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Four teams representing three academic disciplines will compete virtually for a share of $50,000 in startup capital on Friday, March 26, in Auburn University’s seventh annual Tiger Cage Student Business Pitch Finals, presented by the Harbert College of Business.
The 2021 Tiger Cage finalists, chosen after Friday’s semifinal round, are:
“As always, we had a broad range of business ideas,” said Lou Bifano, Director of Entrepreneurship Strategy at Auburn University. “This group of teams have better ideas than perhaps some in the past and are stronger at telling their stories.”
This is the first group of Tiger Cage finalists who have come through the program, which began in the fall, entirely during a pandemic. I think they’re a gritty bunch. They’re tough. They’ve had so many other things to deal with.”
COVID-19 forced last year's Tiger Cage Final Round and all of the 2020-21 competition into a virtual setting. For the first time, teams pitched their business plans before industry professional judges via Zoom.
“Pitching remotely rather than face-to-face is more challenging for the students, but they have stepped up,” said Bifano. “The all-Zoom format will better prepare students to use video conferencing tools after graduation.”
Though pitching remotely remains a hurdle for students, Tiger Cage teams have enjoyed the luxury of utilizing the New Venture Accelerator – 7,000 square feet of office space within the Research and Innovation Center at The Park dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship.
"This gives us the ability to provide working space and networking opportunities for the competitors and provides students with state-of-the-art technology for collaboration and video conferencing," Bifano said. "It also provides a training room with ample social distancing for workshops, while giving our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (Phil Fraher and Scott McGlon) plenty of working space for coaching and mentoring.
“Entrepreneurship is thriving at Auburn University and the Tiger Cage allows our students to develop a business plan, continue to evolve their plan with a financial prospectus, learn how to pitch their ideas – then tie it all together with proposals and pitches before industry professional judges. That’s what the Tiger Cage is all about – preparing our young entrepreneurs for what they might encounter beyond Auburn.”