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Bring your venture ideas for sustainable business to life through the Abrams Sustainable Business Challenge.

The Abrams Challenge is an annual pitch competition for Loyola University Chicago students who want to envision, plan, launch, and scale eco-friendly ventures or products. Simulating a real-life entrepreneurial process, students will pitch their ideas to an esteemed panel of judges on Earth Day for the chance to win up to $20,000 in prize money.

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Interested in participating but don't have a team? Fill out this form here.

ABRAMS CHALLENGE EXPERIENCE

The Abrams Challenge is a year-long immersive learning experience that culminates in an annual sustainable business pitch competition. Finalists for the 2021-2022 academic year will be invited to pitch their ideas to an esteemed panel of judges on Earth Day 2022.

Participant Requirements

Any full-time enrolled student at Loyola University Chicago is invited to participate in the Abrams Challenge. Loyola students who are enrolled full-time in the fall semester and graduating in December are eligible to participate.

Students must form teams of 2-4 members and develop their pitches through a series of extra-curricular workshops and classes led by faculty members from the Quinlan School of Business and the School for Environmental Sustainability.

Challenge Requirements

The pitch competition takes place over two rounds. Finalist teams from round one will be selected to participate in round two of the Abrams Challenge.

ROUND ONE REQUIREMENTS

Each team submits: 

  1. A written executive summary (no more than two pages, single-spaced) with a clear explanation of the business concept and value proposition.
  2. A 3-minute video pitch of the business concept and value proposition. 

The business concept submitted must be the original work of the team.

Submission Deadline: February 28, 2022, at midnight.

Submit Now

ROUND TWO REQUIREMENTS 

Finalists are invited to: 

  1. Present a 10-minute pitch in front of an esteemed panel of judges on Earth Day 2022.
  2. Participate in a 10-minute Q&A session with the judging panel.

The pitch competition will take place on April 22, 2022, and three winning teams will be awarded prize money to develop and launch their ventures.

Challenge Prizes

Three winning teams from the pitch competition on April 22, 2022, will receive prize money to develop, scale, and launch their sustainable business ventures or products. 

1st Place: $20,000

2nd Place: $15,000

3rd Place: $10,000

ABRAMS CHALLENGE SUPPORT

Participating teams will have access to curricular support, extra-curricular workshops, and mentorship. Winning teams will receive ongoing support through Loyola’s Ignite Lab.

Curricular Support

While not required, students who are planning to participate in the Abrams Challenge are encouraged to consult with their academic advisor about enrolling in any of the following classes in the 2021-2022 academic year:

Students who wish to expand their skills in entrepreneurship may pursue a minor in this field. The Entrepreneurship Minor provides excellent foundational knowledge of strategic aspects of the entrepreneurial process.

Additionally, students interested in learning more about sustainability in business and industry can pursue the Sustainability Management Minor, which provides foundational knowledge of the applications of sustainability in management, marketing, and economics. 

Extra-Curricular Workshops

Participating students will be encouraged to attend ongoing extra-curricular workshops designed to help prepare teams for each stage of the Abrams Challenge. Workshops will be facilitated by entrepreneurship and sustainable business management faculty. The workshops will take place monthly between November 2021 and April 2022.

Mentorship

After the second extra-curricular workshop, teams will be paired with mentors who have deep experience in new venture creation and in developing and launching new environmentally sustainable products, concepts, or ideas.

Ongoing Support

The three winning teams of the Abrams Challenge will receive ongoing support and counsel from Ignite Lab, Loyola’s flagship incubator, which includes invitations to special workshops and events.

Winning teams will also receive a four-month membership to 1871, Chicago’s technology and entrepreneurship center that supports early stage, growth stage and corporate innovators building extraordinary businesses, from idea to Fortune 50.

ABRAMS CHALLENGE TIMELINE

September 29, 2021:  Abrams Challenge Information Session. Register here.

October 20, 2021: Abrams Challenge Information Session. Register here

November 12, 2021: Abrams Challenge Kickoff Gathering. RSVP here.

February 28, 2022: Video Pitch & Executive Summary Deadline

March 18, 2022: Finalists are notified of moving to Round Two

April 22, 2022: Final pitch competition takes place and three winning teams are awarded prize money to develop and launch their ventures

Confidentiality

Participants should be aware that final pitches will be presented in a public forum. Confidentiality is not guaranteed in any way. Please do not include sensitive or confidential material in your submissions or your pitch. 

FAQs

When do teams need to register by?

Teams are strongly encouraged to register in advance of the February 28th submission deadline. If there are any changes to the team after registration, please email AbramsChallenge@luc.edu. The team will be considered final upon submission of the video pitch and executive summary. 

How will teams be judged?

A panel of judges will review round one submissions and select finalists to participate in round two of the Abrams Challenge. A separate panel of judges will judge the final pitch competition and determine the three winning teams. Pitches are judged on the following criteria:

  • Value Creation
  • Environmental Impact
  • Innovation
  • Venture Viability
  • Financial Ask and Forecast

Download Judging Criteria

What classes are part of the Abrams Challenge? Are they required?

While not required, students who are planning to participate in the Abrams Challenge are encouraged to consult with their academic advisor about enrolling in any of the following classes in the 2021-2022 academic year:

Do I have to be an entrepreneurship major or environmental science major to participate?

No. Students from across all majors, programs, and levels of study who are enrolled full-time are encouraged to participate in the Abrams Challenge.

However, students who wish to learn more about entrepreneurship or sustainability may pursue a minor in either of these two fields.

If my team wins the Abrams Challenge, do we have to use the prize money toward developing our sustainable business venture?

Yes. Prize dollars must be used to further develop your sustainable business idea. We are hoping to grow the next generation of sustainable business entrepreneurs!

Will participating in the workshops be required?

Yes. At least one member of the team will have to participate in each one of the workshops provided.

Do teams need to be formed with students enrolled in the same classes? Can a team include both graduate and undergraduate students?

Teams can be formed across the university and can include both graduate and undergraduate students.

Who can I contact if I have more questions?

For questions or more information, please email AbramsChallenge@luc.edu.

I'm not interested in participating, but I want to follow along. How can I receive updates about the Abrams Challenge?

Sign up here to follow the teams' progress, get exclusive updates, and receive special invitations to Abrams Challenge gatherings.