The Innovation Competition is an international pitch competition for teams that seek funding and mentorship in kickstarting their high-potential start ups. This year, the 8th Annual Innovation Competition will take place on Friday, October 14th, 2016. To confront the gender imbalance in women in entrepreneurship, our competition endeavors to support women by requiring each team to have at least one female. This past year, the Innovation Competition hosted 100+ attendees, of which 90% were female, from 28 universities. As such, our mission is to equip women with mentorship, interest, and knowledge to navigate the field of entrepreneurship.

The Innovation Competition features two Keynote speakers, a Ted-Talk series, a career fair, interactive workshops, and pitches of our semifinalists’ start-ups. This year we are welcoming Neely and Chloe Burch, founders of Neely & Chloe as our Keynote speakers. Last year we welcomed Stephanie Kaplan, the CEO and Editor-in-Chief or Her Campus and Whitney Wolfe, co-founder of Tinder and CEO of Bumble as our Keynote speakers. Our Ted-Talk speakers featured Mitch Lasky, a partner at Benchmark Capital, Rohit Mittal, CEO and founder of Mitley, and Claire Kim, a Ventures for America fellow.

Each year, we select eight semifinalists who will pitch their high-potential start-up to a panel of experienced and qualified judges. Each semifinalist will also receive mentorship from venture capitalists or experienced entrepreneurs to help them prepare for the competition and fine-tune their business plans. We award a total of $10,000 to the top three teams. Past sponsors such as .Co have been instrumental in helping winners kickstart important ventures such as Barakat Bundle, which aims to lower infant mortality in developing countries, Double Dee’s, Kenya’s first indigenous undergarment business, and Build IT for Health, which equips high schoolers with the resources to develop complex solutions to global health issues.

For important information and updates, like our page on Facebook. We will be posting spotlights on our speakers, mentors, judges, and semifinalists throughout the summer!


What to Expect 

The Innovation Competition begins at 9 AM with breakfast and registration. Throughout the day, you will hear from our two Keynote speakers and our three Ted Talk speakers, each of whom will share their own perspective on a unique aspect of innovation and entrepreneurship. You will also hear pitches from each of our eight semi-finalists. New to this year are our two interactive workshop sessions, led by professionals in the field of entrepreneurship, where you will learn skills and techniques with a real-world application. Our career fair will take place later in the day, and you will have the opportunity to talk to employers looking for passionate, hardworking undergraduates.





Click on the images below to learn more about each Keynote, Speaker, Judge, Mentor, Workshop Leader, and Company


Neely Burch

Neely graduated from Washington and Lee University in 2013 with a degree in Art History. With a passion for art and the market drivers behind the auction world, she took a job at Sotheby’s. About 10 months later, after a great deal of contemplation, she instead decided to leave Sotheby’s to begin work on her own project. Six months later, in September of 2014 she launched Neely by VNB, a mobile retail concept. Neely visited over 40 colleges and universities retailing shoes, accessories and jewelry out of her bespoke Airstream trailer for a year and a half. After spending a great deal of time on the road with existing and potential new customers, Neely saw an opportunity to create a line that could offer better design and quality than currently available on the market. Neely brought on her sister, Chloe, as her partner, and the two girls began developing their own direct-to-consumer brand of women’s shoes and handbags: Neely & Chloe.

Chloe Burch

Chloe also attended Washington and Lee and graduated the year after her sister with a BA in American History in 2014. After searching for an experience that would allow her to learn a great deal about various components of the fashion world, she accepted a job offer from J.Crew at their New York headquarters. Chloe started in their merchandising department in July of 2014. Merchandising at J. Crew allowed her to touch on all aspects of the business: design, production, planning, allocation and everything in between.  After about a year, Chloe decided to join Neely as her partner, bringing all of her experience to the table. In August of 2015, Neely & Chloe was formed and the two sisters began to build their brand


Workshop Leaders



Career Fair