USD's V2 Pitch Competition Postponed to Spring 2021

2019 V2 winner Connor Hountalas spoke to prospective entrants earlier this spring about his entrepreneurial journey. Connor Hountalas, the 2019 V2 Pitch Competition winner, speaks to prospective entrepreneurs earlier this spring. The 2020 V2 event has been postponed until Spring 2021, it was announced on April 3.

The far-reaching effects of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States and countries around the world has forced a shift for one of the University of San Diego’s annual entrepreneurship highlight events.

On April 3, the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Catalyzer at USD announced that the 2020 Venture Vetting (V2) Pitch Competition will not take place as scheduled on April 23. The next V2 competition will take place in Spring 2021.

"As we all continue to manage the disruption caused by the pandemic and adjust to a new normal, we at the Catalyzer want to continue to be sensitive about not adding more noncurricular stress to our students," the Catalyzer said in an email announcement. "We have been constantly in touch with our students during this period. It appears several students are concerned about finishing their semester strong and are worried about their grades and life due to this unexpected disruption. Asking students to submit pitch decks and practice for the competition when they are dealing with mandatory curriculum loads seemed to be unduly adding to their stress levels."

Postponing the V2 event to next spring was considered by the Catalyzer as "the best way for us to continue to support our students during this time."

While the event will not take place, the Catalyzer will continue to serve students through a series of workshops and activities designed to help all budding Torero entrepreneurs sharpen their skills. Activities include: The Resilient Entrepreneur Series; Pitch sessions with investors and entrepreneurs; Coffee Breaks — stories from the entrepreneurial trenches; Skill-up interactive workshops; and continued one-on-one Zoom sessions with Catalyzer team members. For more information, fill out this form and submit it.

It is hoped that these activities can enhance the ideas that students do enter for V2 in 2021.

"We are actually seeing a lot of pivots and changes to business ideas as students find ways to adapt to completely different market space," said USD School of Business Entrepreneur Manager Regina Bernal. "It is also interesting to see where our innovators are heading, looking at industries that desperately will need to change and adapt. It is such a unique time in history for our student entrepreneurs and one that I predict will forever mark our future."

One other fallout from the V2 postponement is that graduating seniors this year won't get to participate. Understanding this dilemma, the Catalyzer has extended an invitation to all 2020 graduating seniors to apply for the 2021 V2. The Catalyzer stated it will provide necessary travel assistance to one member of each team — if team members are not based in San Diego next year — to ensure their participation.

Torero Ventures Lab Pitches Online April 7

Another avenue for USD student entrepreneurs to strengthen their skillset comes in the form of the Torero Ventures Lab. Co-taught by faculty from USD's School of Business and Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, this academic lab gives students a unique opportunity to test their business ideas before bringing them to market.

The class is actually taught in the fall semester for undergraduate (juniors and seniors) and graduate students from all majors and disciplines. Students participate in a competitive pitch during the spring semester — slated for Tuesday, April 7 online from 12:15-2:15 p.m. — with some teams getting into the TVL fall class. Once accepted, students are paired with USD faculty, mentors and local entrepreneurial community members. The focus of the four-unit class is on customer discovery and prototyping.

— Compiled by Ryan T. Blystone

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