CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon college students and entrepreneurs are invited to pitch their venture ideas for the chance to win prizes and cash.

Oregon State University's Austin Entrepreneurship Program will hold The American Dream Elevator Pitch Competition on Friday, April 16, at the Construction and Engineering Hall of OSU's LaSells Stewart Center, 875 S.W. 26th St., Corvallis. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided.

The idea of an elevator pitch is that the entrepreneur has about the length of an elevator ride to explain a business idea. Participants will each have 90 seconds to pitch their venture idea to a panel of judges, which will include successful entrepreneurs, senior executives, venture advisors and investors. The participant must tell the judges what their venture does and convince the panel why it is compelling to both investors and customers.

Participants will compete in one of two categories: a student entrepreneur division and an entrepreneur division.

Each division will compete separately, and the finalists in each will go head to head for the top overall prizes. The award for first place is $500, while second place winners will receive $250, and third place finishers $200.

Entries must be received by April 9 to be eligible to compete in the event. For information on entry requirements, visit

To help contestants prepare for the competition, the Austin Entrepreneurship Program is offering a class to on how to develop the perfect elevator pitch on Wednesday, April 7, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at OSU's Kelley Engineering Center, Room 1003. Jean Bonifas of Springboard Northwest will lead the training session. To attend the free class, e-mail Mary McKillop at Space is limited.

The Austin Entrepreneurship Program is the largest residential living-learning facility dedicated to entrepreneurship in the nation. Because the majority of its residents are first-year students, the program shapes many students from the start of their OSU experience, providing a deeper immersion in entrepreneurial thinking.

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Mary McKillop, 541-713-8044