Six finalists will pitch business startup ideas to judges during a Shark Tank-style finale on Thursday at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business.
The annual Proving Ground competition began in 2009. This year, a total of $51,000 in prize money is at stake, according to USC.
Last year, third-year law students Tina Abbasi and Drew Ferguson and senior finance student Jason Thomas won the two main prize categories. Abbasi and Ferguson won the $17,500 Avenir Discovery prize for the undergraduate or graduate students or young alumni with the most innovative business concept focusing on an existing need or problem. Their concept, Navibas, is a platform designed to increase access to emergency services at crowded events where cellular service is limited.
Thomas won the $17,500 undergraduate Maxient Innovation prize. His creation, Sow Inc., is an interactive platform that facilities the delivery of fresh farm products.
Thursday’s finale begins at 6 p.m. in the W.W. Hootie Johnson Performance Hall. It is free and open to the public.
Finalists will have five minutes to pitch their startup idea and then face a round of questioning from a panel of judges.