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        The Tiger Cage

        The Tiger Cage Business Idea Competition is held annually to identify and support innovative early-stage products or services ideas created by Auburn University students.

        • If you have an idea for a new business venture and are looking for an opportunity to secure early-stage seed funding to incubate your idea, this program is designed for you. You will have the opportunity to describe your startup idea, pitch it to a seasoned group of judges playing the role of investors, and potentially win startup capital that will help jumpstart your business.
        • You will compete for a share of $75,000 in startup capital, sponsored by the Harbert College of Business as well as a $4,000 innovation award sponsored by the Thomas Walter Center for Technology Management
        • Competing teams will have access to mentors from the Auburn family of business professionals, entrepreneurs-in-residence, and other successful entrepreneurs.


        Required submission materials

        1. A 250-word summary of your business idea. This will be used to introduce the judges to your business concept. Clearly state the problem you are addressing, your solution, and the market opportunity.
        2. A one-page Business Model Canvas that describes your business model. You can find the Business Model Canvas template and additional information at
        3. Three to five PowerPoint slides that describe the problem you are addressing, your solution, and the market opportunity. Your slides should be designed to interest a panel of angel investors, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and experts experienced in business development and funding. Your goal is for members of the judging panel to see the market potential of your idea and want to learn more.
        4. A video, up to three minutes in length, describing your business idea, your business model, and the problem it is designed to solve.

        A series of workshops, conducted by Auburn faculty, staff, entrepreneurs-in-residence, and other guest speakers, will be offered to assist you in preparing to compete in the event. You will also have the opportunity to schedule individual coaching and mentoring sessions.

        Tiger Cage Rounds

        Tiger Cage competitions are often broken into several rounds to allow judges plenty of opportunity to award the best ideas. Check out the details below for more information. 

        • Tiger Cage Kickoff: Tuesday August 22, 2023 and Thursday, August 24, 2023 at 4:00pm

          Location: Horton-Hardgrave Hall Innovation Lab (Room 012)

          If you have an idea for a business plan, join us at this year's Tiger Cage Business Idea Competition Kickoff. You'll learn from experts how to take your idea and make it tangible ... and to compete for $75,000 in capital funding.

        • Competitor Application Cutoff: Wednesday, November 15, 2023

          An independent panel of judges will review your submissions and select the top twenty teams to advance to the quarter-final round. Selected teams, as well as teams that did not advance, will have the opportunity to participate in a series of mentoring and coaching sessions on business plan development and effectively presenting your business idea to potential investors.

        • Tiger Cage Quarter-Final Round: January 26, 2024

          Each of the top twenty teams selected from the online submissions will deliver a business plan pitch to a group of judges with extensive experience in business formation and funding. The presentation environment is designed to simulate a typical pitch to an angel investor or venture capital firm. Teams will prepare a PowerPoint presentation to be used during their presentation.

          • Each team will have up to 10 minutes to tell their story (5 minutes for their presentation and 5 minutes for questions from the judges.)
          • Judges will select the top eight teams to advance to the Tiger Cage Semi-Final Round.
        • Tiger Cage Semi-Final Round: February 23, 2024

          Judges will select the top four teams to advance to the Tiger Cage Final-Round.

        • Tiger Cage Finals: March 29, 2024

          This is a public event where the top four teams will compete for a share of the startup capital prize pool.

        Eligibility and Guidelines

        1. Individuals and teams of up to six Auburn students are eligible to enter. This is a competition for Auburn University and Auburn University Montgomery undergraduate and graduate students. On-campus and online students are eligible to participate. Auburn students enrolled in Fall Semester 2023 classes from any school, college, or academic department can participate. Students planning to graduate at the end of the Fall 2023 Semester may participate.
        2. An active student, or Fall 2023 Semester graduate, must lead the team but recent Auburn alumni (within one year of graduation) can join teams.
        3. We strongly encourage teams to be inter-disciplinary and consist of a minimum of three members, however, one-person “teams” are permitted.
        4. Teams that have received prior outside investment from venture capital firms, private investors, or industry sources are not eligible to compete.
        5. Previous Tiger Cage finalists are not eligible to compete.
        6. All entry materials will be treated as confidential. The only individuals with access to the entry materials will be judges and members of the event faculty and staff. No other provisions are made to protect intellectual property.
        7. Startup capital awards will be granted only to seed the startup of the submitted idea and will be paid out in stages according to mutually agreed-upon milestones and proper documentation. No substitutions or pivots are permitted without the approval of the Director of the New Venture Accelerator.
        8. The Harbert College of Business reserves the right to disqualify, at its sole discretion, any team participating in the competition at any time, for any reason. Reasons for disqualification include, but are not limited to, plagiarism and any other form of academic dishonesty, misrepresentation, misappropriation, or infringement of the intellectual property of others, as well as any failure to comply with these guidelines. Disqualified teams shall forfeit any and all awards and other benefits.
        9. Only one submission per student team is permitted.

        Questions: Contact Lou Bifano, Director, New Venture Accelerator (

        Student workspace is available in the New Venture Accelerator located in the Research and Innovation Center (Suite 101, 540 Devall Drive)

        Previous Tiger Cage Winners

        • 2023

          In first place was Dropplel who received $25,000 in startup capital.  Led by Parvin Fathi-Hafshejani,  Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, Dropllel is a diagnostic tool that provides accurate, rapid, and cost-effective detection of virus’ thereby successfully lowering the possibility of large-scale spread.

          Second place, receiving $12,000 in startup capital, went to Rodopto, led by Scott Rowe, Harbert College of Business. Rodopto is an agricultural company dedicated to sustainable crop production utilizing advancements in drone technology. 

          Third place, receiving $8,000 in startup capital went to OMNIS, led by Zakariya Veasy, and Evan Henley, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.  OMNIS is a peer-to-peer social platform that allows individuals to borrow money through the community with short-term, micro-loans that meet their immediate needs.

          Fourth Place, receiving $5,000 in startup capital went to Archangel Defense, led by Shay Pilcher, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Archangel Defense is a provider of customized equipment for any combat situation imaginable, designed for peak mission performance, and above all to make sure everyone who defends our country makes it home.

          Click here to learn more about 2023's Tiger Cage Business Idea Competition

        • 2022

          In first place was IGNTE who received $25,000 in startup capital. Led by Jacob Cordero, business administration, and Emmett Deen, Computer Science, IGNTE is a platform that gives organizations a means of showing their sponsor’s ads on Twitch.

          Second place and $12,000 in startup capital went to The Best Roping Dummy. Led by Will Jordan, Agricultural Communications, The Best Roping Dummy is an autonomous team roping training system that reduces the need for live cattle and improves practice capabilities. 

          A tie for third place, and splitting $15,000, went to Toft by 2153 and Feature Finder. Led by Jesse Stewart, Software Engineering, Studio Art; Brooke Hopton-Jones, Computer Science; and Sydney Pham, Software Engineering, Toft by 2153 is a game development studio specializing in next-generation, cross-platform, multiplayer games.  Led by Zane Barbao, Management and Entrepreneurship and Luke Matthews, Professional Flight, Feature Finder is a social music platform designed to revolutionize the entire music industry.

          Click here to learn more about 2022's Tiger Cage Business Idea Competition.

        • 2021

          Four student teams, StalLock (Chase Maasdorp and Wynn Gamble), Dead Bird (Mitch Owens), KultureXchange (MaKayla Smith) and Vulcan Line Tools (Zac Young), competed for a share of more than $50,000 in startup capital on Friday, March 26, in the Tiger Cage Business Idea Competition Finals. The virtual event, which was aired via Zoom, resulted in a first place award for Vulcan Line Tools. Congratulations and good luck with your startup!

          Learn more about the 2021 winners here

        • 2020

          In first place was SwiftSku, a platform that brings Big Data to convenience stores, founded by mechanical engineering major Daniel Mazur and mechanical engineering and accounting major Mit Patel. Second place was awarded to BrewMats, a product design of a portable mat for Beer Pong that prevents the cups from being knocked over, created by finance major Everett Conner. And in third was Remora Robotics, a drone that cleans waterways, designed by Zach Wadzinski, Gi Lee, Harrison Smith and Dakota Newsome, from the Ginn College of Engineering.

          To learn more about 2020's Tiger Cage Business Idea Competition, check out "Remote Tiger Cage competition won by team that develops Big Data algorithms for retail" in the News.

        • 2019

          In first place was FlashTract, a software that expedites the payment process for construction companies, created by civil engineering majors Ben Conry and Ben Chenault. Second place was awarded to Precision Performance Insoles, a device placed within insoles that maps the foot structure for comfort, designed by engineering majors Jordan Coker and Mohamed Badawy. In third was Parasky, a device that produces augmented reality in flight cockpits, designed by engineering management major Dan O’Leary, occupational safety and ergonomics major Fehmi Capanoglu and electric and computer engineering major Baha Yakupoglu.

          To learn more about 2019's Tiger Cage Business Idea Competition, check out "Software development team Flashtract wins 2019 Tiger Cage" in the News.

        • 2018

          In first place was ESCAPE Therapy, a garment to aid with physical therapy, designed by kinesiology majors Sarah Gascon and Matt Hanks and consumer and design services major Dawn Michaelson. Second place was awarded to Snippety Snap, a public cell phone stand and integrated mobile app that allows users to take photographs in popular locations, developed by public administration and public policy students Olivia Cook and Courtney Haun. In third was Enki Engineering, a spiral engineering calculation notebook, designed by supply chain management major Terran Ray, software engineering major Garrett Raab and marketing major Jackie Litschewski.

          To learn more about 2018's Tiger Cage Business Idea Competition, check out "Auburn students win $50,000 in funds and business services toward their electrotherapy garment to aid injury rehabilitation" in the Newsroom.

        • 2017

          In first place was BioErgo Solutions, . Second place was awarded to Soleline, a footwear storage and display solution, designed by engineering major Gibson Wang, electrical engineering major Berk Anadur and business administration major Frank Nguyen. And in third place was Honey Do, a peer-to-peer mobile app that enables individuals engaged in custom projects to find help locally and nationally, created by chemical engineering student Michael Minkler and MBA student Vlad Saveljeus.

          To learn more about 2017's Tiger Cage Business Idea Competition, check out "Harbert College graduate student among Tiger Cage winners" in the News.

        • 2016

          In first place was Envelope Aerospace, a device that would provide more accurate forecasts and dramatically increase the flight times of weather balloons, designed by  chemical engineering major Troy Ferguson, engineering systems major Shawn Majzlik and political science major Dennis French. Second place was awarded to EZXS, a backpack that could move around the body for easy access, designed by industrial systems graduate students Siddarth Doogar, Chaitanya Pawar, Rishi Kamat and Akilesh Yamsani. In third was HillVoy Solutions, a software that allows employees to descretely file complaints, developed by information systems management major Bobby Hillman, finance major Zach LaVoy and computer science major Eric Jackson.

          To learn more about 2016's Tiger Cage Business Idea Competition, check out "Tiger Cage winners pitch alternative to expensive weather balloons" in the News.

        • 2015

          In first place was Parking Grid Technologies, app-based software that alerts commuters to available parking spots on-demand, developed by Jonathan Philip and Alex Wakefield. Second place was awarded to SimplyProse, an editing and writing platform designed by supply chain management major Cole Kinchler, industrial and systems engineering major Sharan Kalva and finance major Jake Wright. In third was LifeLike Projections, a program that customizes retail stores via projection-mapping technology, created by information systems management major Vincent McNeeley.

          To learn more about 2015's Tiger Cage Business Idea Competition, check out "Students win Tiger Cage competition by designing app to locate vacant parking spaces" in the Newsroom.

        Contact Us

        Have questions about the Tiger Cage competitions? We can help.

        Lou Bifano

        Lou Bifano

        Director of Entrepreneurship Strategy