The Nisbet Venture Fund (formerly Davidson Venture Fund) is an annual pitch competition that gives Davidson students and recent alumni the opportunity to compete for up to $25,000 in investment in their innovative, for-profit ventures. Established in 2014 through the generous support from Marian Nisbet and Chip Nisbet ’86, the competition has run each year with the exception of spring 2020. Finalists receive up to six weeks of coaching and mentorship from seasoned entrepreneurs and business professionals before pitching to a panel of investors and entrepreneurs!
The Nisbet Venture Fund is specifically designed for currently enrolled Davidson College students and recent alumni (2016 – 2021) to support their entrepreneurial journey.
Thank you to our 2022 award and program sponsors, Marian Nisbet and Chip Nisbet ’86, Michael Best, and Northwestern Mutual.
Applicants selected to participate in the Nisbet Venture Fund will pitch at a live competition on April 21, 2022. To prepare finalists for a strong pitch, a series of educational workshops, experiences, and mentoring opportunities are available throughout the spring term.
In order to encourage both idea-stage as well as established ventures, selected applicants have the opportunity to participate and pitch on one of two tracks: the Incubation track or the Acceleration track.
Applications are now open until March 4th at 4pm. They will be sorted and scored by a committee in their respective categories. Finalists will be announced the week of March 7.
Applications open on January 28th and are submitted electronically through a form found on this page.
When a student or recent alumni applies for the Nisbet Venture Fund they will have the option on the application to select if they would like their venture to be considered for the Incubation Track, the Acceleration Track, or Either Track.
Once the applications are received, they will be sorted and scored by a committee in their respective categories. Finalists are chosen on the merits of their written application.
$25,000 Acceleration Track
The winner(s) receives a $25,000 investment by Davidson college in their business; the investment is structured as a convertible note or a warrant. The winner is determined by a panel of judges. Please review our FAQ for further details.
The top prize winner will also receive pro-bono legal support from Michael Best and get to select one option from the following:
Option 1: Cleanup Package: Review and Cleanup of Organizational Documents (up to 5)
Option 3: Member Entity Package: Operating Agreement, Trademark Clearance Search, and Organizer Consent
$2,500 Incubation Track
The winner(s) receives a $2,500 grant. The award may be paid to the venture or to one individual. The winner is determined by a panel of judges.
$5,000 Audience Choice
This award will be granted to the venture with the most audience votes as determined by an online vote. Applicants must submit a pitch no longer than two minutes by April 8th, 2021 at 10am. Voting will run for a week from April, 13 12pm EST – April 20th 12pm EST, 2022.
Wednesday, February 2, 4:30-6:00pm Come stretch your idea-muscles with the Hurt Hub! In this workshop, a facilitator will guide you through a series of exercises to explore where you might discover potential opportunities for an entrepreneurial idea or innovation. We will uncover different ways to start thinking with an entrepreneurial mindset and by the end of the workshop, you’ll have an inspiration list for your next big idea!
Thursday, February 17, 4:30-6:00pmAre you new to entrepreneurship and don’t know where to begin? In this workshop, we’ll talk about the entrepreneur mindset and introduce a popular tool called the Business Model Canvas. Instructed by Dezbee McDaniel, co-founder of Clinispan Health and Innovator in Residence at UNC-Chapel, you'll learn from his experience as an entrepreneur and leave with an initial strategy for getting started with your own business idea.
Thursday, February 24, 4:30-5:30pm What goes into creating a solid pitch? What can you do to attract others to your idea and put confidence in potential investors? In this workshop, we’ll cover what should go into your pitch deck and go over the best practices and common mistakes entrepreneurs make when presenting their venture.
This workshop will be taught by Juan Garzón, Executive Director of Innovate Charlotte and Pitch Breakfast.
What goes into creating a solid pitch? What can you do to attract others to your idea and put confidence in potential investors? In this workshop, we’ll cover what should go into your pitch deck and go over the best practices and common mistakes entrepreneurs make when presenting their venture. This workshop will be taught by Juan Garzón, Executive Director of Innovate Charlotte and Pitch Breakfast.
Tuesday, March 8, 12pm-1:30pm It is critical for the entrepreneur to truly understand their customer in order to develop effective and viable solutions. In this presentation, we will go over techniques to develop empathy and understanding of your customer as well as discuss market sizing and potential.
Wednesday, March 23, 12:00pm-1:00pm
Entrepreneurship is anything but linear, and it can be difficult knowing where you should focus your resources. In this panel discussion, we will chat with three entrepreneurs about how they’ve gone about prioritizing and selecting the people, tools, and processes they use to run a successful startup.
Part of the Hub Club Lunch series!
Thursday, March 24, 6:30p-8:00pm
Monday, April 4, 4:30pm-6:00pm
Establishing strong agreements helps enforce the policies and procedures your venture needs to keep healthy working relationships. In this workshop, we will discuss the important considerations in creating strong contracts and agreements for your small business as well as what kind of agreements that might come up as an entrepreneur. This workshop is in partnership with Michael Best and will be instructed by Michael Fulks and David Sigmon.
Thursday, April 7, 3:30-5:30pm
Perfect your pitch by attending this speed mentoring event where experienced business mentors will listen and provide feedback on your presentation.
This event is designed for the selected finalists of the Nisbet Venture Fund. A registration link will be provided in an e-mail to those selected.
No, but they must own at least 25% of the company.
Acceleration Track Finalists: Yes. Finalists selected for the Acceleration track are assigned and required to participate in weekly mentoring sessions. Teams are also encouraged to attend any relevant events or clinics hosted at the Hub. Non-local alumni and students studying abroad must participate in remote mentoring sessions.
Incubation Track Finalists: Are encouraged to attend office hours at the Hurt Hub leading up to the pitch competition, though it is not a requirement. Incubation Track Finalists are not assigned a specific mentor. Teams are also encouraged to attend the educational workshops and clinics hosted by the Hurt Hub.
Usually, one finalist team on the Acceleration Track takes home the entire $25,000 prize. When the judges believe there should be more than one winner, they have the discretion to divide up the prize. In addition, there is no requirement that the judges make an investment in any team. The investment will be granted in the judges’ discretion.
The Incubation Track finalists will compete for the $2,500 prize and all finalists are placed in the same pool for the $5,000 audience choice award.
We generally reimburse up to $250.
Investment from the Nisbet Venture Fund is an investment by Davidson College (or a subsidiary of the college) in a Davidson student or young alumni business venture.
Sebastian Charmot (’22) + Oğuzhan Çölkesen (’22)
Emre Koc (’20) + Altan Tutar (’20) + Huseyin Altinisik (’21)
Mariem Bchir (’20)
Nathan Engstrom (’21) + Zane Libke (’21)
Kim Bako (’21) + Patrick Sullivan (’21)
Lorena James (’21)
Andrew Wright (’20) + Jackson Miller (’20)
Arianna Montero-Colbert (’19)
Houston Downes (’18)
Charlie Goldberg (’19)
Get it Poppin’ Clothing Line
Peter (Andy) Baay (’17)
Data Engineer at Tresata, Armfield Capital Management, LLC
Violet Degnan (’17)
Scott Cunningham (16’)
Tori Mayernick (’14)
Hives for Lives
Jared Blakney (’14)
Generations Tee Shirt Co.