Avinger Impact Fund

Nisbet Venture Fund

The 2024 competition will take place on April 24th.

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. 

Fund INfo

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. 

Description of the Tracks

The Incubation Track (15 finalist spots total) 

  • Generally characterized by being a newly formed idea with limited time and resources committed to its development prior to application
  • Eligible to pitch for a $2,500 prize (non-equity) (2 minute pitch, with no judge Q&A)
  • Eligible for an assigned mentor throughout competition season
  • Eligible to attend all Nisbet Venture Fund finalist prep sessions
  • Eligible for the Audience Choice $5,000 prize (Recorded Pitch)
  • Venture does not need to be incorporated

The Acceleration Track  (5 finalist spots total)

  • Generally characterized by a significant amount of time and resources committed to the venture prior to application.
  • Teams with generated revenue or venture capital exceeding $5,000 are only eligible to pitch on the Acceleration Track and not the Incubation Track.
  • Eligible to pitch for the top $25,000 equity prize (5 min full pitch, with 3 min judge Q&A)
  • Eligible for an assigned mentor throughout competition season
  • Eligible to attend all Nisbet Venture Fund finalist prep sessions
  • Eligible for the Audience Choice $5,000 prize (Recorded Pitch)
  • Venture must be formed legal entity in order to receive grand prize (registered as a business)

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. 

  • Individuals or teams must include an enrolled Davidson College student or recent Davidson alumni from a graduating class between 2017-2022.
  • In order to receive the $25,000 investment, the venture must be a formed legal entity (corporation or limited liability company). Teams competing for the Audience Choice or Incubation Prize do not need to be incorporated/organized.
  • To participate in the Accelerated Track, Davidson College alumni from the classes of 2017-2022 and/or currently enrolled Davidson student(s) must own 25% or more equity in the business to be eligible for an investment. If more than one Davidson College alumni from the classes of 2017-2022 and/or currently enrolled Davidson student(s) own equity, at least one of those team members must own 25% or more equity in the business.
  • The Davidson College student or recent alumni must deliver the pitch and answer the judges’ questions.
  • Past equity winning ventures of the Davidson Venture Competition are not eligible to participate in the pitch competition. Past finalists whose venture did not receive funding from the Davidson Venture Fund competition remain eligible.
  • Teams with generated revenue or venture capital funding in excess of $250,000 are not eligible to compete in either pitch. This includes funding from both institutional and non-institutional sources (pitch contests, grants, bank loans, etc.)
  • Teams with generated revenue or venture capital exceeding $5,000 are only eligible to pitch on the Acceleration Track and not the Incubation Track.
  • The following entities are ineligible to compete in the Nisbet Venture Fund Competition: endowments, capital campaigns, lobbying organizations, political parties, labor organizations, and entities that may be connected to prohibited drug-related activities.

$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.


Confidentiality & Permissions

Confidentiality of information is not guaranteed and teams should not include any confidential information in their submissions, including trade secrets or other proprietary information that would be at risk for disclosure. Entry into this competition may be considered a public disclosure for patent purposes. If teams plan to file patent protection on an aspect of their business, they should consult with an intellectual property attorney before entering. Intra-team confidentiality is the sole responsibility of team

Additional & Permissions members.

Teams are subject to the Davidson College Honor Code. Teams may be disqualified at any time before, during, or after the pitch competition for failing to comply with these general rules or the conditions set forth in the program participation agreement.

Educational Programming

Students brainstorming at a table
Your Next Big Idea Workshop (In-person)

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!

three individuals discuss a drawing
Intro to Entrepreneurship (Virtual)

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.

Best Practices In Pitching (Virtual)

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.  

Instructor in front of class
Defining Your Customer and Market (In-Person)

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.

Hurt Hub lobby
Prioritizing Your Startup's people, tools, and processes panel (In-Person)

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!

Classroom of students
Go-To-Market Strategy Workshop

Thursday, March 24, 6:30p-8:00pm

Ready to put your product or service out into the world? Join the Hurt Hub@Davidson and Laura McGuire of Fifty Fifty Consulting for a workshop on developing a Go-To-Market strategy. In this workshop you will learn how to bring your venture to market by understanding the customer journey, choosing effective marketing tactics, and developing methods for measuring your success. This workshop is part of the Nisbet Venture Fund educational series. Open to all and conducted in-person.

Structuring Contracts and Agreements Workshop

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.  

Students and Mentor talk
Pitch Practice Speed Mentoring

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.


Individuals or teams must include an enrolled Davidson College student or recent Davidson alumni from a graduating class between 2018-2023. We accept applications from any profit business model. 


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.

While teams may compete and win the investment without being incorporated (or, in the case of a limited liability company, organized), the investment will only be disbursed to a corporation or limited liability company. The winning team(s) will have the option to structure the investment as either a convertible note or a warrant. If the convertible note structure is selected, then the team will enter into a Convertible Promissory Note and a Loan Agreement with Davidson College or a subsidiary of the college (referred to as the “Investor”). If the warrant structure is selected, then the team will enter into a Warrant and Investment Agreement with the Investor.



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