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Student Business Accelerator Fund (SBAF)

The Student Business Accelerator Fund (SBAF) is a program designed to create and advance a culture of entrepreneurship at Washburn University by supporting student startup ventures.

The principal way that the SBAF program does this is by encouraging students (and recent graduates) to develop new ideas and start ventures by providing funding awards to cover development and startup costs. The SBAF program also matches student entrepreneurs with business professionals and entrepreneurs as project mentors. 

All Washburn students are eligible, as well as alumni who are within two years of graduation. This includes students and graduates of the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program, Entrepreneurship Certificate Program, School of Business, Washburn Technical Institute, and all other disciplines, graduate and undergraduate.

SBAF is supported financially by donations from our alumni, who believe strongly in supporting our students and their entrepreneurial initiatives. 

2024 Competition Information

March 7, 2024 - Info session

  • 12:00 p.m. (Location TBD)

April 1, 2024 - Submission deadline

April 19, 2024 - Presentations

  • Pitch your opportunity to the committee

SBAF is focused on helping students (and graduates) during the seed, startup, and early stage of venture development.  Two different types of awards are available:

  • Development Award. At the seed stage, students have an idea that is in development, perhaps still conceptual in nature.  Development awards may be used to further assess and develop the initial concept, generate market research, talk to customers, research intellectual property (ip) issues, and develop prototypes.  Development awards are limited to $2,500 per phase of development.
  • Startup Award. At the startup stage, students are engaged in starting their business or in the commercialization of their product or service.  Startup awards may be used to purchase equipment and provide capital to pay startup expenses including, but not limited to: inventory, supplies, and marketing expenses. Part-time and “side-gig” student-run businesses are encouraged.  Startup awards are not limited in amount, but typically range from $2,500 to $10,000. 
  • Early Stage Award. Awards are available for those students already in business (early stage) to be used to help grow the business by taking advantage of new marketing or investing in assets to improve offerings. 
  1. For a project to be considered, it must meet the definition of a “business opportunity.” For the SBAF program, a business opportunity is defined as the development of a product or service with the capacity to generate economic value in the form of profits to the business owner. 
  2. Projects at various stages of development are eligible, including seed, startup, and early stage businesses. Existing student businesses looking to grow their business with SBAF assistances are eligible for a development or startup award depending on the amount requested.  
  3. Washburn students can apply themselves or as part of a business team. Great ideas do not occur in isolation; therefore students are encouraged to develop their ideas with others, although this is not required.   
  4. At least one team member must have WU affiliation by being enrolled or previously enrolled in a Washburn graduate or undergraduate program. WU alumni who are within two years of graduation are eligible.
  5. The team member with WU affiliation must have at least a significant ownership stake in the company, typically defined as at least 50% ownership interest. If the proposed ownership stake is less than 50%, this should be discussed with Washburn faculty first to determine eligibility.
  6. Awards may not be used to compensate the student or graduate entrepreneur, who is expected to contribute sweat equity both in the development and startup of the venture.
  7. Students may apply for SBAF award funding in consecutive years for the same project. In fact, this is encouraged for students to match funding with stages of development.

The SBAF Process

Students interested in pursuing funding from the SBAF program apply for consideration by submitting the online registration form and requested project information. Registration forms are available online or in the School of Business office in Henderson, Room 114. 
  1. To apply for a development or early stage award under $2,500, entrepreneurs must provide a business brief that provides a description of the idea, value proposition that highlights the problem being solved or need being met, an estimate of the market size, description of the entrepreneur/team, and a specific request and use of funding with key development timeline (milestones) planned. Completion of a business model canvas is encouraged. For students already in business, this information should be supplemented with an income statement and balance sheet. Business briefs should be concise, no more than two pages typed.
  2. To apply for a startup or early stage award over $2,500, entrepreneurs must provide an executive summary plus a three-year proforma financial. The executive summary should provide a description of the opportunity, a company overview, the product or service, an industry overview, the target market (customer profile), key competitors with competitive advantage clearly defined, the management team with key roles, and a specific request of funding with development timeline (milestones) planned. The executive summary should be professional and no longer than 3-4 pages typed.
The 3-year proforma should include projected income statements, cash flows, and balance sheets for the proposed venture. Sales and cost assumptions should be supported by research.  An Excel spreadsheet to complete the proforma is available on request. 

Deadline to Apply: April 1, 2024 at 5 p.m.  Please submit both 1) Registration form and 2) Project Information.  Submissions can be made electronically, sent to Rick LeJuerrne:

A pre-screening committee of Washburn entrepreneurship faculty reviews all applications and project information. Projects are reviewed based on the thoroughness of information provided and perceived opportunity. During this time, faculty may request to meet personally with the entrepreneur to review the project. After the review, projects will be selected and students will be invited to present their opportunity to the SBAF Committee.  
Student presentations are made to the SBAF committee, which is composed of donors, alumni, local business professionals and entrepreneurs. Students will have 10-15 minutes to present and 10-15 minutes to answer questions from the committee. The SBAF Committee makes all award decisions typically on the day of the presentation.  In addition to a PowerPoint slide deck, students are encouraged to include handouts to support their cause. Assistance on how to develop a PowerPoint presentation to pitch their idea is available. 

This year the presentations will be held on: April 19, 2024 from 2-5pm, in Henderson, Room 104.   

Students are notified of the SBAF Committee decision, and if awarded, sign a contract with the School of Business that outlines the terms and conditions of the funding. Students agree to provide quarterly reports on their progress. Award funding is typically conditioned on achieving the key milestones identified in the project. In some cases, funding is advanced in stages (tranche funding).  Student teams with multiple founders and/or owners will need to have their business entity (partnership, LLC, or Corporation) finalized prior to funding disbursement.
Closing a deal is only the beginning of the SBAF program experience. Newly funded projects will have access to a network of contacts and experienced professionals who can provide valuable guidance for the growth and success of their venture. Each student company that receives funding will be allocated a mentor to aid in the disbursement and management of the funds and to advise their business. Students are required to meet with their assigned mentor at least once per quarter during the first year and report their progress to the SBAF Committee at the end of the first year of operations.  
If you have questions or would like more information about the SBAF program, contact Rick LeJuerrne at 785-670-1306 or He is located in Henderson Resource Learning Center, room 310E.
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