Boyd Venture Challenge

The Boyd Venture Challenge is a seed-fund grant competition conducted in the spring semester each year. Companies are awarded up to $30,000 in startup capital. Funds may be awarded to one company or split among several companies.

Click below to view the 2024 schedule.

  • March 25 – Application Period Opens at 8 a.m.
  • April 7 – Application Period Closes at 11:59 p.m.
  • April 12 – Invitation to Pitch
  • May 3 – Pitch to the Judges
  • May 7 – Awards Ceremony


In general, any legally established, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, student-owned business is eligible to apply. Specifically:

  • Student-owned businesses must have a federal tax ID (FEIN or TIN).
  • Student-owned businesses can be a corporation, LLC or partnership.
    • In the past, the Anderson Center has allowed students with a sole proprietorship to apply to the Boyd Venture Challenge. A sole proprietorship with a business license is a legal business, but is not a legal entity, and provides no liability protection. Further, outside investment is not possible. Effective with the 2020 Boyd Venture Challenge, students may apply as a sole proprietorship but will be required to form a legal entity before any award payment is made. Options include an LLC or “S” corporation. The Anderson Center will provide guidance in entity selection if required.
  • The student owner must hold majority interest in the business.
  • Student-owned businesses awarded funds in previous Boyd Venture Challenge competitions can apply again but must show how past funds were used to advance the business.


The application period opens during the spring semester each year. To apply, complete and submit the online application form. Final applications must be submitted via the online form in order to be considered for the competition. Once the applications are received, judges will review and invite selected applicants to pitch their business plan in person.

Be sure to answer all questions carefully, clearly, and professionally in the application process.

If you have any questions, please email

Executive summaries should include:

  • Name of the business
  • Activities to date
  • A clear definition of the market problem or opportunity
  • Business model (price, cost, profit)
  • Value proposition
  • Talent required/talent already hired
  • Timeline, milestones and costs to move from current status to operating entity, if not already in operation
  • Financial projections
  • How will business achieve sustainability; what future products or services will follow
  • 2 page limit

Applications should include a cover sheet with name, contact information, academic year and major. Do not include your name in the submission document itself. The document author must remain anonymous to the judges.

Once the applications are received, judges will review the executive summaries and invite selected applicants to pitch their business plan in person.

Our Benefactor

The Boyd Venture Challenge is made possible by the generosity of Randy Boyd, founder and executive chairman of Radio Systems Corporation, the makers of PetSafe, Invisible Fence and SportDog brands. Radio Systems is a business built on the knowledge that pets are members of the family. Radio Systems’ 400 worldwide employees produce the industry’s most popular and innovative products in pet training, containment, safety and lifestyle for an audience dear to their hearts: their own pets.