Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton has announced that the firm is among the sponsors of the Duke Start-Up Challenge, an entrepreneurship competition now in its tenth year. Semi-finalists were announced last week, and the remaining contestants now move on to the Business Plan portion of the competition.
The Start-Up Challenge runs the course of the 2009-2010 academic year and includes an Elevator Pitch Competition in November, an Executive Summary Competition in February, a Business Plan Competition in March and the Grand Finale in April. Several cash and in-kind prizes are awarded to participants in every phase of the competition. Teams are also provided with feedback at every phase by a panel of judges with significant entrepreneurial experience, to help them progress to the next stages of the Duke Start-Up Challenge and beyond. A list of the 35 semi-finalists, along with short descriptions of their business plans, is posted on the Duke Start-Up Challenge website .
“Since its founding three decades ago, Wyrick Robbins has demonstrated its commitment to entrepreneurs through our dedicated focus on early stage companies,” stated Jason S. Wood, a Wyrick Robbins attorney specializing in intellectual property transactions and strategic partnerships. “The Duke Start-Up Challenge provides a valuable opportunity to up-and-coming entrepreneurs, and we’re proud to help contribute in some small way.”
Wyrick Robbins also demonstrates its commitment to burgeoning entrepreneurs at Duke through its participation in several other programs, including the Duhatch Student Business Incubator and the Duke Entrepreneurship Education Series (DEES).
Duhatch connects enterprising students with mentors from faculty and industry, facilitating business development to help solve the myriad problems a fledgling venture faces. For this program, two Wyrick Robbins attorneys serve as “Coaches on Call” – meeting one on one with very early stage companies or potential entrepreneurs to answer questions and provide legal guidance. Current “coaches” from Wyrick Robbins include Jason S. Wood and J. Christopher Lynch, Wyrick Robbins’ information technology industry team leader.
Additionally, Wood serves as an advisor for Duke’s Entrepreneurial Law Clinic, an invitation-only course that teams third year law students with student business teams.