Seed Grants Plant Opportunity for Student Entrepreneurs

PROVO, Utah – Mar 11, 2022 – BYU student entrepreneurs looking for guidance and financial backing now have the opportunity to receive both through the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology’s new Seed Grants program. A part of the BYU Marriott School of Business, the Rollins Center strives to support student-led entrepreneurial ventures through various programs. One of the center’s newest additions, the Seed Grants program provides students with meaningful mentoring relationships and necessary funding.

Prior to the Seed Grants program, the Rollins Center sponsored the New Venture Challenge and the Business Model Competition, rewarding winning student startups with monetary assistance. The Seed Grants program will replace these two competitions and allow for funding to be given to more startups.

One such startup is Raeya, a sustainable athletic-wear company founded by masters of information systems management student Anna Yardley, a native of Kaysville, Utah. Raeya was one of five student companies to receive a traction grant of $2,000 during the Seed Grant’s first round, held on January 28, 2022. “I think the new Seeds Grant approach is genius," says Yardley. “This new program not only offers students a chance to get capital to help grow their business, but is also an amazing mentoring opportunity.”

Chris Crittenden, managing director of the Rollins Center, agrees that the new Seed Grants program will better cater to the needs of student entrepreneurs. “In a competition, you win or lose. What’s different about the Seed Grants program is the committee is trying to nurture everyone along,” explains Crittenden. “The grant process is more like a relationship. If the committee doesn't give a team money this month, that doesn’t mean we won’t next month. We give groups feedback so they can come back and obtain funding later.”

Seed Grants are awarded every month. A group of committee members composed of investors, alumni, and faculty gather to hear student entrepreneurs pitch their ideas. Students then have the opportunity of receiving either a validation or traction grant. Validation grants are for entrepreneurs in the beginning phases of their startups and focus on prototyping, market research, and problem-solving. With a validation grant, students may receive reimbursement up to $500 for expenses they have already incurred.

The second type of funding available is the traction grant. A company has the opportunity to receive up to $27,000 over time as students continue meeting milestones and implementing feedback from the committee.

“Companies will be at different stages over time. One company may come in and pitch for a validation grant, receive it, and then apply to come back for a traction grant after having completed necessary milestones,” says Crittenden. Students may apply for a seed grant no matter what phase their startups are currently in.

“Teams will be helped to progress from idea validation all the way to having a product and being ready to run with and grow their companies,” says finance senior Braden Burk, a member of the seed grant committee from Meridian, Idaho. “I am excited to see how students learn from investors who have real exposure in the field.”

Following the first monthly meeting of the program in January, both Burk and Crittenden say the event was a success. They are looking forward to seeing the growth that comes from this approach. Participants in the program also affirmed the new system’s efficacy and timeliness.

“The expectation is that after students receive grant money, they will use the funds in the way they outlined in their pitches. In a follow-up session, the teams report back on any progress made since receiving the grant. Throughout this process there is a relationship developed between successful venture capitalists and student entrepreneurs,” says Yardley. “I received my first grant to spend on running Facebook ads to better know my audience and sell current inventory. I can’t wait to follow up on how the grant money has helped my brand and ask for additional help moving forward.”

The new Seed Grants program allows for student entrepreneurs to learn from experienced mentors. Photo by BYU Photo.
The new Seed Grants program allows for student entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to a committee of experienced professionals. Photo by Pexels.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Marissa Lundeen