Are you a business founder or have exciting business concept? Apply to compete in the Tigers Den and win an award of up to $20,000 sponsored by the Flemming Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.


The Tigers Den program provides an incubator experience for founders with ventures that have launched or are close to launch. The pitch competition offers students from all over the college a chance to share their ideas and business progress regardless of participation in Flemming Center programming.

Founders who successfully navigate the pitch competition will be invited to join the 2022-23 incubator. The incubator will run throughout the following academic year and can include the spring EL-OFF course or be extra-curricular on a as needed basis.


Any student who is enrolled currently at Hampden-Sydney and alumni classes 2018-2021 are eligible to participate. You must have a developed business or non-profit model with customer validation that you will actively grow in the following 12 months.


The decisions whether to make any awards and the amounts of those investments will be at the discretion of the judges. If awarded, awards(s) may range from $1,000 to $20,000.


You, as a Tigers Den presenter, will have 7 minutes to make a pitch in front of a panel of judges who are alumni and founders of businesses. You will have access to a projector, sound system, and PC computer. The content of the pitch is at your discretion – you can present a slide deck or create an infomercial video that meets the criteria below. Your goal is to convince your future customers and the panel of judges that you have an organization that can have meaningful impact on a significant problem.


  • April 27—Submit your final presentation documentation for consideration for admittance to the competition
  • Saturday, April 30, 4 pm—Finalists pitch to judges panel and top three awardees selected
  • Wednesday, May 4—announcement of award denominations


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 StartupSpace TM.  
  • 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.


There is no requirement that judges make an investment in any team. The investment will be granted at the judges' discretion. Teams are subject to the Hampden-Sydney College honor code.