Student competitors at the 2024 Bronco Pitch Competition.

The Bronco Pitch Competition is an annual event where Western Michigan University and area high school students can pitch their innovative business ideas to expert entrepreneurs. This is their opportunity to strengthen their entrepreneurial skills and advance their business concepts toward launching a profitable business.

2024 Bronco Pitch Competition

A student team stands in front of the judges at the 2024 Bronco Pitch Competition.

2024 Bronco Pitch Competition





  • Where is the competition held?

    The competition will be held in Schneider Hall at the Haworth College of Business. The address for the building is 2300 Business Court, Kalamazoo MI 49006 and parking will be available in lot 72R.

  • Who can participate?

    Any current undergraduate or graduate Western Michigan University student with an original business idea in the early startup stage can participate. There is also a high school pitch competition segment, where local high school student entrepreneurs with original business ideas will compete against other high school student entrepreneurs.

  • Is there a cost to participate?

    No, this free event is sponsored by the Haworth College of Business. All participants will receive lunch and a gift for attending the competition.

  • Can teams participate?

    Yes, teams can be comprised of up to three participants. All college team participants must be Western Michigan University students. All high school team participants must be high school students. We recommend that one student pitch the business idea and the other team members be ready to help answer questions from the judges.

  • What is a business pitch?

    A short, simple description of your business idea that demonstrates how you can solve a problem and offer a valuable solution. It is not a sales pitch.

  • What makes an effective pitch?

    Show passion and excitement for your idea! Know who you are pitching the product or service to. This could include potential customers, investors, lenders and more. Start with an attention-grabbing hook or opening statement. Then, you will need to include:

    • The problem
    • The solution
    • The product or service
    • Target market and size
    • Competitors
    • Closing statement
  • How long are the pitch presentations and can competitors use slides or props?

    Each presenter will have only three minutes to pitch the business idea, and there will be timekeepers in each room. Slides and props are not allowed, but there will be space for your demo, product and marketing materials in the room.

  • Who are the judges?

    Judges for both the open and final rounds will be a diverse mix of WMU faculty, staff and local community members. Their job is to fairly score the student pitch presentations using a judging rubric. They will take between two to three minutes at the end of the pitch to ask questions.

  • Can I invite guests?

    Guests are encouraged to attend the final round of pitch presentations starting at noon in 2000 Schneider Hall.

  • What is the schedule of events on the day of the competition?
    9 to 9:30 a.m.Student check-in2150 Schneider Hall (Dean's Conference Room)
    9:45 to 10:45 a.m.Open roundsClassrooms on the lower level
    11 to 11:50 a.m.Lunch and student showcase2130 Schneider Hall (Study Lounge)
    Noon to 12:35 p.m.Final round (high school)2000 Schneider Hall (Brown Auditorium)
    12:45 to 1:15 p.m.Final round (college)2000 Schneider Hall (Brown Auditorium)
    1:15 to 1:45 p.m.Winners announced,
    group photos, networking
    2000 Schneider Hall (Brown Auditorium)

Entrepreneurial opportunities at WMU

About K.C. O'Shaughnessy

The Bronco Pitch Competition is funded and was started in memory of Dr. K.C. O'Shaughnessy, a professor of management in the Haworth College of Business and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, who passed away in 2011. The work he started in the area of entrepreneurship led to the creation of events like this competition, the minor in entrepreneurship, and the formation of the business accelerator Starting Gate. His legacy lives on in the students who now benefit from these programs.

O'Shaughnessy was the founding director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, a clearinghouse for ideas on entrepreneurial studies.

He joined the WMU faculty in 1994. He taught strategic management, human resource management and managing change. His commitment to his students was always evident. He loved teaching and exploring ideas with his undergraduate and graduate students.

  • Dr. K.C. O'Shaughnessy sitting at his office desk with a laptop.