Students and future business owners from around the world competed Thursday for a chance to win $25,000 at Virginia Tech Knowledge Works's Global Student Business Concept Challenge.
Fourteen teams had 10 minutes to pitch their business plan. While only one team could win, everyone benefits from the event.
"They're gonna have a better startup than if they didn't come here," says Jim Flowers, executive director of VT Knowledge Works.
Sarah Cherruault and Francois Dupayrat, two students from France, started an app called Autimo. They want to make another version of it, but it'll be costly, so they went to the challenge, hoping to win the prize.
And they did. Cherruault and Dupayrat, competing as Team Auticiel, say they plan to use the $25,000 to develop apps to help children with autism.
The students spend a week around the area meeting with local companies to work on their ideas or products. They also go to local restaurants, stores, and museums. The hope is that one day these students will come back and grow their businesses here.
"You tend to open places where you know someone and that gives you a comfort level, a safety net," Flowers says.
The students stay with host families while enjoying the Blacksburg and Roanoke area.
"I love it," Dupayrat says. "It's like the countryside I grew up in, but everything is bigger."