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Venture Design Challenge

Recampus Team at Semifinals

Do you have an idea that can change the world? Would you like to win money for having the courage to share it?

Sign up for the Venture Design Challenge and make your pitch!

In our annual pitch competition, Lake Forest College students identify a problem worth solving and mobilize the people, resources, mindsets, and networks to solve it.

You will connect with mentors, receive coaching, and compete for $10,000 in total prizes, transforming your idea into action.

Open to all Lake Forest College students from freshman to seniors and all majors in between!

Sign up here.

Venture Design Challenge Promo from ENTP on Vimeo.

Students from around the world compete in the Venture Design Challenge

The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program empowers and inspires tomorrow’s Forester entrepreneurs to dream big and believe in themselves and their ideas. 

24 students from 8 countries and 5 continents pitched in the 2022 Venture Design Challenge. 

Winner of Best Business Idea: EDUNFT.eth (Val Halitjaha ’22 & Luis Landeros ’22) 

Winner of Best Social Innovation: Blueview Glass (Jerries Azar ’22 & Keano Chicalia ’22)  

Winner of Most Promising Opportunity: PlanOrganise (Rob Delismon ’22, Steve Dermont ’22, & Mona McCormack ’22)  

Social Impact Award Winner: Volunteer Me (Connor Cahill ’22, Ely Dobrodt ’22, Joey Jaquint ’22, Maggie Swansen ’22) 

Crowd Favorite for Best Pitch: A Amaryllis (Anila Buja ’23, Jaclyn Lonergan ’23, & Ariela Menendez Iglesias ’23)

The student teams pitched 3 social impact and 5 business venture ideas to a panel of judges. 

The competition highlights, encourages, and rewards liberal arts college students building innovative business ideas. 

Winner of Best Business Pitch: A Amaryllis (Anila Buja ’23, Jaclyn Lonergan ’23, Ariela Menendez Iglesias ’23) 

“I am forever grateful for this program at Lake Forest, I would not be the person I am today without it. Entrepreneurship to me means to DARE” – ENTP...
“My skillsets in terms of public speaking have grown immensely and I found that through giving presentations or pitches often, I have become much more comfortable and less...
“I believe one critical skill that entrepreneurship minors at Lake Forest College have is our skill of learning how to give a successful presentation to a live audience and...
“I used to struggle with public speaking before, however, as part of all the entrepreneurship classes I had to present ideas, and that has helped me challenge myself and...

“I love entrepreneurship courses at Lake Forest College!” – ENTP Senior 

What is the Venture Design Challenge?

In Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s annual pitch competition, students design a venture that solves a real social or business problem. The Venture Design Challenge is open to all Lake Forest College students from freshman to seniors and all majors from data science to chemistry to graphic design and anything and everything in between.  ENTP minors are required to participate in the pitch competition. 

The Venture Design Challenge is designed to help early-stage student founders assess and validate their business venture and develop their minimal viable product. Student teams work with mentors and coaches as they take their venture idea to the final pitch. 

At the final pitch, students draw upon all that they have learned in the ENTP minor, including, but not limited to, human-centric design, storytelling, resilience, customer discovery and development, marketing, competitor analysis, financial modeling, and fearless asking. All students compete in the semi-finals where a panel of judges determine which teams advance to the finals to compete for $10,000 in total prizes.

The competition takes place in the Oppenheimer Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and is generously sponsored by the Entrepreneurship Advisory Council.

Who is eligible?

1. Are you currently enrolled at Lake Forest College?

2.  Do you have a problem you want to solve?

If you ansered yes to both questions, you qualify to compete! 

Now, choose your venture path:

Choose your venture path

Are you pitching a business or social innovation venture?

A business venture is a for-profit solution (product, service, system) to a
market problem that creates economic value (technology, business, food,
medicine, etc…).

A social innovation venture is a solution to a societal problem that creates social value (education, science, environment/climate, health, medicine, psychology, equality/social justice, etc…). It involves developing effective solutions to challenging and often systemic social and environmental issues in support of social progress.

Why join?
The Venture Design Challenge brings together students dedicated to solving problems through venture creation. The competition takes students through an extensive process of personal and professional development including team building, expert industry-specific mentorship and coaching.

Participate in the Venture Design Challenge and learn how to:

  • Find a problem worth solving
  • Work on a team
  • Define your problem and solution
  • Design a compelling pitch presentation
  • Write an empathy story
  • Define your product or service
  • Evaluate the potential market
  • Articulate your value proposition
  • Build connections with mentors and local start-up champions
  • Write a business summary
  • Sell your ideas
Competition timeline
  1. Workshops run weekly
  2. Mentoring runs February - April
  3. Semi-finals: tentatively scheduled for Saturday, April 22, 2023
  4. Finals: tentatively scheduled for Saturday, April 29, 2023
Ready to compete?

The competition is for degree-seeking college student currently enrolled on a full-or part-time basis in the academic year from August 2022 through May 2023. This includes students who graduated, or will graduate, any time after May 2023 (e.g., a student who graduates December 2022 is still eligible to participate). Students who graduated on or before May 2022 are not eligible to participate.

Prior Activity: Students who participated in previous Lake Forest College pitch competitions ARE eligible to compete; you do NOT need to have a new idea to participate.

Students who participated in, or even won, the Davis Prize for Peace ARE eligible to enter this competition.

Team Composition: This is an undergraduate student competition. Competing team members may be from different majors and minors; in fact, it is encouraged.

Each team must have at least two, and no more than five, current students. Teams may bring no more than five team members to participate in the semi-finals or finals.

We encourage family, friends, teachers and other classmates to support participants in the competition.

Sign up now!

The information represented here is subject to change, especially scheduled times, up until the day of the event. If you have any questions, please contact Entrepreneurship & Innovation’s Venture Challenge Lead and Interim Director, Professor Kate Jackson at
The Venture Design Challenge semi-final and final round presentations may be recorded (photography and videography) for future promotional use of Lake Forest College and ENTP. By applying, you agree for your image, likeness, and name to be used in any publications or purposes of Lake Forest College's Entrepreneurship and Innovation program.
Meet past Venture Design Challenge winners

2022 Venture Design Challenge Winners

The following students teams were awarded prizes in the 2022 pitch competition:
  • Best Business Pitch (A Amaryllis): Anila Buja, Jaclyn Lonergan, & Ariela Menendez Iglesias
  • Best Business Idea (EDUNFT.eth): Valdrin Halitjaha and Luis Landeros
  • Best Social Innovation (Blueview Glass): Jerries Azar and Keano Chicalia
  • Most Promising Opportunity (PlanOrganise): Rob Delismon, Steven Dermont, and Mona McCormack
  • Social Impact Award (Volunteer Me): Connor Cahill, Ely Dobrodt, Joey Jaquint, Maggie Swansen
  • Audience Favorite (A Amaryllis): Anila Buja, Jaclyn Lonergan, & Ariela Menendez Iglesias

2021 Venture Design Challenge Winners

The following students teams were awarded prizes in the 2021 pitch competition, which you can view here.

  • Winning teams: Christine Hanna (MyBody); Alec Brent and Eoghan Kelly (REPS Sports Networking); Audrey Shirtz and Manisha Kumar (Optical Inclusion)
  • Runners-up: Thomas Anderson, Jay Patel, and Molly Gniady (SES Labs); Dylan Petrou and Elias Kraus (TOP); Tyranny Miller and Aidan Burke (TunesU)
  • Audience Favorite: Dylan Petrou and Elias Kraus (TOP)

2020 Venture Design Challenge Winners

Our winners from the 2020 Venture Design Challenge pitched amazing social innovation and business venture ideas, which you can learn about here.

2018 Venture Design Challenge Winners

The following students teams were awarded prizes in the 2018 pitch competition:

  • Best Business Venture - Vito Brunetti (SportSpek Trading)
  • Best Social Venture - Karla Figueroa and Fatemeh Riahi (Nibipure)
  • Runners up - Ryan Widmer (MyID) and Lindelo, Dlamini, Kailey Gonzales, and Jabulani Sifundza (H.E.R. Comforts)
  • Best Overall Pitch - Noel Orwothwun, Koku Donkor, and Moyosore Tejumola (Nabta)
  • Best Idea - Alec Brent (the GoodSamaritan App)
Competition rules & regulations
Ventures that are not in keeping with the values of Lake Forest College or otherwise deemed unethical or objectionable will not be considered
Each applicant’s submission must be entirely the team’s own original creation and must not infringe upon or violate any laws or any rights of third parties, including, but not limited to, such violations as infringement of copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret or other proprietary or property right, libel, defamation, violation of rights of privacy, publicity, personality or celebrity, or any contract right, or any other right of any individual, corporation or entity.
Disqualification: The College reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify any applicant for any reason, including, but not limited to, for the submission of any incomplete entry or any entry not complying with these Official Rules, or any applicant that it finds to be: (i) tampering with the entry process or otherwise tampering with the operation of the Competition, the Competition website, or any other website or web banner ad related to the Competition; (ii) acting in violation of the Official Rules; (iii) acting in a non-sportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, harass, harm, mislead, or defraud any other individual or entity; or (iv) otherwise in violation of law, in each case as solely determined by the College. Any person attempting to defraud the College, the Competition, or any other applicant or in any way tamper with the Competition will be ineligible to compete in or win the Competition and the College may seek any and all remedies
General Conditions of Participation in This Competition: Except where prohibited by law, submission of an entry constitutes the applicant’s consent, for purposes of advertising, trade, promotion, and publicity, to permit Lake Forest College and its affiliates, without notice or further compensation, a royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, modify, create derivative works from and display in any and all forms of media, now known and hereafter devised, such applicant’s name, likeness, pictures, photographs, video, voice, biographical information, and statements.

Mentor a Startup Team

If you're an alum or a community member who would like to mentor a team, sign up here.

Support the pitch competition  here.

Dean DeBiase, emcee  Judges panel

From left, Dean DeBiase emcees, and judges panel deliberates at final competition.