The Nisbet Venture Fund is an annual pitch competition presented by the Hurt Hub@Davidson that provides 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 takes place each spring with the final pitch event held this year on April 24, 2024. To prepare finalists for competition, they receive 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 (2018 – 2023) to support their entrepreneurial journey.
Applications will open on January 17, 2023 at 10am and close on February 15, 2023. Applicants selected to participate in the Nisbet Venture Fund will pitch at a live competition on April 19, 2023 at 6:00pm. 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.
The spring 2023 application will open on January 17, 2023 and close on February 15, 2023. Finalists will be selected and informed by February 24th through email.
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.
$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.
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.
To prepare finalists for the final competition, there will be short weekly educational sessions. These sessions will help teams think through the parts of their business pitch. Optional supplementary learning and practice opportunities will be provided to finalists as well.
Additionally, it is highly recommended that teams take part in the Nisbet Venture Fund’s mentoring program. In your application packet, teams will be asked if you would like to be assigned a dedicated mentor for the competition. If you are a finalist and select yes, the Hurt Hub staff will pair you with a professional who will advise you throughout the competition season.
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.
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.