NexusLA envisions the Bayou Classic BizTech Challenge evolving into a nationwide program to enhance the diversity of our nation’s technology-based workforce by connecting private corporations, associations, and governmental institutions to our nation’s HBCUs, and supplementing the HBCUs’ internal capacity to deliver high quality entrepreneurial education. Over the past two years, we have made significant advancement toward realization of this vision.
Expansion of the program to schools outside of the State of Louisiana who wish to participate
The 2017 program enjoyed participation from seven HBCUs in Louisiana, Texas and Alabama. We’re ramping up our marketing campaign early this year, targeting 17 HBCUs and other Predominately Black Institutions in Louisiana and surrounding states, through social media and partnerships with faculty members and student clubs.
Development of nationwide partnerships with private industry and governmental institutions in targeted, high-growth industry sectors
Our partnerships include national entities such as the American Robotics Manufacturing Institute, AutoDesk, and America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Institute, as well as local and regional IT firms. Students competing in the BizTech Challenge may submit technology-based projects of their own design, or select from a list of practically-based challenge project ideas submitted by our industry partners, who may also provide the student teams with mentorship from industry professionals. The top three teams in each category will compete for cash scholarships totaling $1,750, serving as further motivation for students to explore these industry sectors. The top 5 teams from across all categories will be eligible to present their project at the Bayou Classic pitch event in New Orleans, and compete for an additional grand prize of $10,000.
Delivery of business and entrepreneurial education
In addition to receiving at least one team mentor, the students will receive supplemental instruction through a series of webinars on such topics as the Business Model Canvas, customer discovery, business financials, discovering personal workplace strengths, building a pitch, delivering successful presentations, and building an effective LinkedIn profile. NexusLA will also provide links to entrepreneurial resources for online sites or support organizations located in the team’s geographic area. The education and resources provided, combined with feedback from mentors, instructors, and judges, will lead to more successful outcomes for the students.
Fostering entrepreneurship on HBCU campuses
Student teams in Louisiana wishing to continue development of their concept after the final pitch event may enter NexusLA’s LA HBCU Accelerator to receive direct technical assistance and resources from NexusLA staff. Teams outside Louisiana will be referred to entrepreneurial assistance organizations in their area.