APU students have the opportunity to make their dreams a reality in this “Shark Tank”-inspired competition. 

After a five-year hiatus, Azusa Pacific University is bringing back ZuVenturez, a competition where students pitch their business ideas for a chance to win a $500 cash prize. Signups for  ZuVenturez open on Feb. 22 and the event will take place on April 10.

While this event is new to the current generation of APU students, ZuVenturez has been a success story for many students of the past. 

In 2015, students from the School of Nursing won the competition with their app PreceptMe, which helps connect healthcare students with preceptors (healthcare providers who mentor the students). In 2018, the winner was Venture Leather Company who make high-quality leather bags in Uganda and invests their profit into supporting local Ugandan businesses.

This competition was not just a big deal for the competing students but for the campus as a whole. Innovation and entrepreneurship were celebrated and UTCC was packed with students as they watched APU’s version of “Shark Tank.”

Due to the COVID-19 virus, this APU tradition was shut down in 2019. After five years, the School of Business and Management is relaunching the competition on a smaller scale in hopes of bringing back the entrepreneurial spirit.

Flyer courtesy of the School of Business and Management

Dr. Stacy Brecht, the entrepreneurship and marketing professor, runs the Sigma Nu Tau Entrepreneurship Honor Society and is also helping to rebuild the competition. Jay Sherer, former director of innovation and ZuVenturez, has also contributed to the relaunch.

Dr. Wendi McGehee, interim dean of the School of Business and Management, believes that SBM is the right department to launch the comeback of the event because of its resources and knowledge.

“We can offer support to students who need to understand what it takes to get from ideation all the way to implementation. The finance piece of that, the pitch piece of that, understanding the economic environments…we can offer all the pieces that make their pitch and business comprehensive,” said Dr. McGehee.

Another helpful piece that will be provided during the competition are the coaches. These coaches are “tried and true.” Some will be returning from previous ZuVenturez and some will be new to the competition. Leading up to the event, contestants will be paired with a coach and meet regularly. Coaches will help them strengthen their communication skills, presentations and ideas. 

Another factor that made ZuVenturez successful was the different majors represented in the competition. While it may be jarring for a non-business major to enter the competition, McGehee encourages students of different majors to sign up. 

“You don’t have to be a business major to have a good idea or to solve a problem…Nursing students know what needs are in that industry, music majors know what needs are in their industry. We’re here to provide the business background and support the idea.”

McGehee believes that many APU students have aspirations to be their own boss and want to go out to do good work. By bringing back ZuVenturez, those students will have the tools to chase their dreams as well as cultivate creativity and entrepreneurship through a Christian lens. 

For students who are unsure of joining the event, McGehee said “Let your faith be bigger than your fear. Challenge yourself to take this opportunity.”

If you are interested in ZuVenturez, sign up in a team or as an individual by Feb. 22 here. The event will take place April 10 in Wilden Lecture Hall.