Have a novel idea or exciting business concept? Apply to compete in the Tiger's Den and win a Hampden-Sydney Venture Fund investment of up to $15,000. In the process, you will learn from seasoned entrepreneurs, perfect your pitch, and compete for seed funding to accelerate the growth of your venture.


To provide a structured incubator experience for nascent founder who will have a shot at earning working capital to start-up ventures that have launched or are close to launch.


Must be enrolled Hampden-Sydney students and alumni classes 2016-2020. For-profit business models only. See General Rules below for details.


The decisions whether to make any investments and the amounts of those investments will be at the discretion of the judges. If awarded, investment(s) may range from $1,000 to $15,000. 

Investment Conditions

The Hampden-Sydney Venture Fund is an investment by Hampden-Sydney College (or a subsidiary of the College) in a Hampden-Sydney 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, the team will enter into a Convertible Promissory Note and a Loan Agreement with Hampden-Sydney College or a subsidiary of the College (referred to as the "Investor"). If the warrant structure is selected, the team will enter into a Warrant and Investment Agreement with the Investor. Copies of the form agreements for both structures are available for review - contact the director for copies.


  • July 1, 6pm EDT: Online Information Session. Register now.
    Alumni can contact Andrew King for additional details.
  • August 27: start first day of class in the Flemming Center and online
  • December 3: Final Business pitch decks due
  • December (TBD): Finalists pitch to the panel of judges

Judging Criteria

  • Business Purpose - Explanation of the problem that exists and how the business idea solves this problem
  • Potential - Support for the commercial potential, viability, and prospects for success of the business idea
  • Validation - The idea has been tested in some way, big or small, with real potential customers (customer interviews, prototypes, surveys, etc.) 
  • Team - The credibility, "back-ability," and passion of the individuals behind the business idea

Mentorship & Entrepreneurship Education

The following is a sampling of the benefits available to the finalist teams:

  • Education - Prior to the pitch competition, student and local alumni teams will participate in entrepreneurship clinics covering topics such as creating a business model canvas, preparing a pitch, and start-up life. Non-local alumni will have access to alternative educational resources including the Entrepreneur's Dashboard powered by StartupSpaceTM.  
  • Mentoring - Work with experienced mentors and entrepreneurs in the Hampden-Sydney community and beyond
  • Networking - Connect with the Hampden-Sydney entrepreneurial ecosystem including investors, entrepreneurs, and business leaders with a diverse range of expertise
  • Community - Community is an important part of the Hampden-Sydney Venture Fund experience. Teams are expected to learn as much from one another as they do from the Hampden-Sydney College Venture Fund staff and mentors.

General Rules


  1. Each team must include at least one current Hampden-Sydney student or a member of the graduating class of 2016-20.  
  2. Currently enrolled Hampden-Sydney student(s) and/or a member of graduating classes of 2016-20 must own 30 percent or more equity in the business to be eligible for an investment.  
  3. One currently enrolled Hampden-Sydney student or a member of the graduating class of 2016-20 must deliver the pitch and answer the questions from the judges.  
  4. Ventures of winning teams must be organized in limited liability form (corporation, LLC, LLP, or similar structure) in order to receive investment funds, although teams may enter and place in competition without limited liability organization.  


  1. 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 of disclosure.
  2. 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.
  3. Intra-team confidentiality is the sole responsibility of team members.


  1. There is no requirement that judges make an investment in any team. The investment will be granted at the judges' discretion.  
  2. Teams are subject to the Hampden-Sydney College honor code.  
  3. Student teams must attend sign up for INDS 285 Tiger’s Den New Venture Incubator Course. (Non-local alumni and students studying abroad will participate remotely.) 
  4. Teams may be disqualified at any time before, during, or after the pitch competition for failing to comply with the General Rules or the Conditions set forth in the Program Participation Agreement.