The Failure Fund

keep up to date with Failure Fund recipients here.

Student with Whiteboard

The Failure Fund is a grant competition that awards Davidson students with between $150-1000 to pursue a creative or innovative idea. The purpose of this scholarship is to fund the creative ideas of Davidson students while empowering them to model the traits of innovators and creative entrepreneurs, mainly by being comfortable with failure.

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Avinger Scholarship

The Avinger Scholarship flyer

Purpose of Award: Established in honor of Robert L. Avinger, Jr., a member of the Davidson Class of 1960 and professor of Economics from 1967-1980, The Avinger Scholarship will identify and recognize a rising sophomore, junior or senior who shows the vision, qualities, and passions of a innovator, giving evidence of creativity, energy, and initiative that will lead to success in future endeavors.
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Venture Fund

Davidson Venture Fund is a pitch competition that gives students and recent alumni (’13-’17) the opportunity to compete for up to $25,000 in investment in innovative, for-profit ventures. Finalists receive up to 4 weeks of coaching and mentorship from seasoned entrepreneurs before pitching live on-campus in front of a panel of investors and entrepreneurs!

Application released the week of Feb. 19, 2018!


  • March 25: Submit application materials by 10pmEST (Read: All 3 parts!)
  • March 27: Finalists are notified by email regarding advancement to Pitch Day!
  • March 27 – April 25: Finalists participate in formal and informal entrepreneurship education opportunities and work with mentors to develop their business
  • April 25: Pitch your idea to panel of entrepreneurs and investors. Winner(s) will be announced at the competition!



  1. Submit a written application online: Explain your idea. How much capital are you seeking through Davidson Venture Fund? What problem are you attempting to solve? Who are your potential customers? Who are your competitors? How does your solution work? How will your venture make money? How have you paid for the venture so far? How much capital do you need to achieve your next milestone? Describe your team and venture ownership.
  2. Create a 2-minute “pitch” video about your business idea! We care much more about the content of your talk than the video production quality. A webcam or smartphone video is sufficient. Speak loudly and clearly, and be sure the volume of the video is adequate.
  3. Sign a Program Participant Agreement to acknowledge and agree with the program terms and conditions.  (Feel free to let us know if you have any questions!  We’re here to help!)
Male on a laptop computer


Who is eligible?

  • Enrolled Davidson students and alumni classes of 2013-2017. 

Does my venture qualify?

  • We accept applications from any profit business model.

Does my entire team have to be Davidson students or alum?

  • No. But they must own at least ⅓ of the company.

Do you give out more than one award?

  • Usually.

Do you pay for travel?

  • We generally reimburse up to $250.


  • Each team must include at least one currently enrolled Davidson student(s) and/or at least one Davidson alumni classes 2013-2017.
  • Currently enrolled Davidson student(s) and/or alumni classes 2013-2017 must own 33.3 percent or more equity in the business to be eligible for an investment.
  • One currently enrolled Davidson student or alumnus/a class of 2013-2017 must deliver the pitch and answer questions from the judges.
  • Teams may compete and win without being incorporated (or, in the case of a limited liability company, organized), but in order to receive investment teams must be incorporated or organized.


  • Confidentiality of information is not guaranteed and teams should not include any confidential information in their submissions, including trade secrets or other proprietary information that would be at risk for disclosure.
  • Entry into this competition may be considered a public disclosure for patent purposes. If teams plan to file patent protection on an aspect of their business, they should consult with an intellectual property attorney before entering.
  • Intra-team confidentiality is the sole responsibility of team members.


  • There is no requirement that the judges make an investment in any team. The investment will be granted in the judges’ discretion.
  • Teams are subject to the College Honor Code.
  • Student teams must attend all on-campus bootcamps or educational clinics in February. Non-local alumni and students studying abroad must participate in a series of digital modules.
  • Teams may be disqualified at any time before, during, or after the pitch competition for failing to comply with these general rules or the conditions set forth in the program participation agreement.


Investment from the Davidson Venture Fund is an investment by Davidson College (or a subsidiary of the college) in a Davidson student or young alumni business venture. While teams may compete and win the investment without being incorporated (or, in the case of a limited liability company, organized), the investment will only be disbursed to a corporation or limited liability company.

The winning team(s) will have the option to structure the investment as either a convertible note or a warrant. If the convertible note structure is selected, then the team will enter into a Convertible Promissory Note and a Loan Agreement with Davidson College or a subsidiary of the college (referred to as the “Investor”). If the warrant structure is selected, then the team will enter into a Warrant and Investment Agreement with the Investor.


The following is a sampling of the benefits available to the finalist teams.


Prior to the pitch competition, student and local alumni teams will participate in entrepreneurship clinics covering the basics of company formation and IP, business model canvas, pitch preparation, startup life, and more. Non-local alumni will have access to alternative educational resources.


Work with experienced mentors and entrepreneurs in the Davidson College community and beyond.


Connect with the Davidson entrepreneurial ecosystem including investors, entrepreneurs, and business leaders with a diverse range of expertise.


Community is an important part of the Davidson Venture Fund experience. Teams are expected to learn as much from one another as they do from the Davidson Venture Fund staff and mentors.