University students across New Mexico have a new opportunity in December to compete for prize money to fund their early-stage business ventures.

STC.UNM and Innovation Academy will co-host the Comcast Pitch Deck Competition. This year, Comcast and Nusenda Credit Union will sponsor the platform for student entrepreneurs to showcase their innovations and hone their pitching skills in front of investors. The $20,000 prize pool, funded by Comcast, will be awarded to the five best individuals or team presentations.

  1. First Place:  $10,000
  2. Second Place: $5,000
  3. Third Place: $2,500
  4. Fourth Place: $1,000
  5. Fifth Place: $1,000

“We’re proud to power the dreams of these dynamic student entrepreneurs to help them grow and launch their businesses,” said Chris Dunkeson, area vice president, Comcast. “These students represent some of the best, young talent in Albuquerque, and we feel confident that our investment will return dividends for our local community.”

“STC and the Innovation Academy are thrilled to be partnering with our community sponsor Comcast for this event,” said STC CEO Lisa Kuuttila. “This is a wonderful learning experience for new and current student entrepreneurs from not only UNM and its branch campuses but for students at all New Mexico colleges and universities. The Comcast Pitch Deck Competition allows us to take our entrepreneurial training programs to the next level and we are very grateful to Comcast for their generous support in helping us to achieve this goal.”

Innovation Academy Executive Director Rob DelCampo added, “This contest meets a critical milestone for our student entrepreneurs. The opportunity to do an investment-style pitch in this setting really complements the other educational opportunities we already offer.”

Pitch deck competitions go further than the typical elevator pitch by including visual representations and summaries for a new company, business plan or startup vision. The goals of a pitch deck are to spark interest from potential investors, meet investors and give entrepreneurs more experience presenting to large audiences. Judges look for quality of message delivery through non-verbal cues, (voice, eye contact, gestures, movement) and persuasive and creative content which “connects all the dots” toward commercialization.

The student finalists recently submitted five-minute videos and their preliminary slides for review. Finalists have access to resources and coaching to help them prepare for the final, live round on Dec. 2. The five finalists competing are:

· George Boujaoude, Tomas Manzanares, Christian Seely: Bitekast - A podcast listening platform advancing the way we listen to podcasts.

· Alissa Chavez: EasyFlo - An eco-friendly Baby Bottle

· Sam Crooks: Film Spots - Online platform to scout and reserve film sites.

· Anna Kuuttila and Sara Kuuttila-Webbert: Smarter Starter - Children’s educational products tailored for children ages 0-4

· Erik Strobert: Perspective Components Inc. - Seamless integration of artificial intelligence and gimbal hardware to deliver perfect recordings.

The event is free and starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Lobo Rainforest Building. Community members, family, friends and supporters are invited to attend the final round. The five finalists will present their 10-minute pitch decks to a panel of judges with five additional minutes of Q&A. Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served. Please register if you plan to attend.