Copyright 2014

Students and alumni competing in Herald's Business Plan Challenge

The quest for the win is on.

FIU students and alumni competing in the annual Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge recently pitched their ventures live before a panel of judges. They included e-commerce ventures, health and wellness platforms, and a web-based debt negotiation service.

Now through May 1, community members can visit miamiherald.com/challenge to watch the pitch videos and vote for the People's Pick contest among the FIU Track finalists.

The Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, now in its 18th year, opens the door for anyone with a business idea or an operating startup that is under two years old to compete for funding that could get the venture off the ground or grow an existing business.

The contest is sponsored by FIU's Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center.

"For more than a decade, this exciting and rewarding competition has given countless entrepreneurs a chance to turn their business idea into reality," said Jesus Padilla, program assistant at the Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center.

A record 255 business plans were submitted this year, covering concepts in education, fashion, music, healthy living, toys, pets, social gaming and food. Their ultimate goal: securing investors to get the venture off the ground or grow an existing business active for less than two years.

The Top 6 entries in the FIU Track pitched their ideas before a panel of judges on April 12 at the Miami Herald.

The FIU Track finalists:

Joust, presented by students Jonas Erthal, Julio Benavides amp; Franco Aquino (BBA '15), is an online platform that streamlines the quoting and payment process for automotive services.