North Texas Shark Tank

Oklahoma businessman and philanthropist Jerome “Bruzzy” Westheimer, pictured with the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2016, is funding the Westheimer Business Plan Competition.

DENTON – Enterprising students at the University of North Texas can compete in a new challenge putting their business creativity to the test, thanks to funding from an Oklahoma business leader.

The university announced that the Westheimer Business Plan Competition, sponsored by business philanthropist and UNT alumnus Jerome “Bruzzy” Westheimer, gives students the chance to create original business ideas – including enterprises, products and services – and to pitch those proposals to a panel of venture capitalists, consultants, entrepreneurs and executives.

First-, second- and third-place winners will receive $10,000, $5,000 and $1,000, respectively, per team. Remaining finalists will take home $100 per individual.

“This competition provides a special opportunity for students to think critically and get in front of admired business leaders to gain constructive, personalized feedback for their proposals,” Marilyn Wiley, dean of the UNT College of Business, said in a news release.

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Westheimer earned his bachelor’s degree in administrative management in 1965, He is currently president of Valbel West, an oil and gas producer and geology business in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and president and CEO of the Jerome Westheimer Family Foundation.

He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the university, and he was inducted into the North Texas Athletics Hall of Fame as a Fred McCain Honoree, both in 2016.

“When you are forced to stand before a board of directors to present your idea, you’re going to find out what the real world is really about,” Westheimer said in the news release. The competition is like a “mini ‘Shark Tank.’ ” that will give students valuable experience in an authentic, business setting.

The Westheimer New Venture Competition is open to all UNT students in teams of three. Up to 12 teams will be chosen to pitch their plans to about a dozen judges during a 15-minute presentation on April 28.

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For details or to submit proposals: – FWBP Staff