Finding Funding

Money. Many people would argue it makes the world go ‘round. In a more practical sense, money is essential to entrepreneurship. A lot of great entrepreneurs say that they’re driven more by helping people through their product than they are by money; however, even those entrepreneurs would likely concede that they wouldn’t be able to have as big of an impact as they do without a little bit of capital to help them along the way. For these reasons and more, knowing where funding will come from is a key question that every entrepreneur has to answer.

While many college students have had success raising money from external investors, there are other opportunities available to raise money through on-campus competitions, grants, and more that may seem less daunting. For Cornell students, a few popular sources of funding are highlighted below:

1) Business Plan Competitions

College business plan competitions are a popular choice among Cornell entrepreneurs because they provide rewards for writing a good business plan, which is something that most entrepreneurs likely already hoped to do. Among these, one of the most popular is the New York State Business Plan Competition, which offers more than $500,000 in annual prizes spread across ventures run by college students in multiple different sectors. In fact, the XBoard team from Cornell recently took home $10,000 for their innovations in creating the “world’s first trickable electric skateboard.”

2) On-Campus Funding Grants

cpfbIn an effort to support the creativity of its student body, Cornell has established many funding grants to reward student innovation. Examples on campus that may provide funding to student ventures include the Community Partnership Funding Board, Engaged Cornell, and the Janet McKinley ’74 Family Grant. Accomplished Cornell entrepreneurs have used these grants to bring their ventures to the next level, as Shaibyaa Rajbhandari ’18 did by expanding her efforts to benefit Nepal through Utthan to a new platform called Patuka.

3) Pitch Competitions

Pitch competitions offer cash prizes to students looking to bring inspiring ideas to life. For many student entrepreneurs, the ability to practice a pitch in front of a real audience also provides a great opportunity to develop presentation skills for other pitches. Cornell entrepreneurs Sam Kramer and Andrew Smith experienced this firsthand by taking first place in the eLab pitch competition and Life Changing Labs pitch competition, respectively. With the money they’ve raised, both hope to build the momentum they have growing both on and off campus.

For more on funding resources, click any of the links above to learn more about the funding opportunity, or how Cornell student entrepreneurs used them to impact their ventures.