New Venture Competition Feature: ARTEM

ARTEM’s competing team at the Beall New Venture Competition, including Emily Vu in the center.

Each year, the Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship holds an annual business plan contest known as the Beall New Venture Competition. Open to the UCI community, the business puts competitors into teams that develop a business product or service hopes of winning $10,000 in prizes.

Each team submits a business plan, which a panel of judges use to determine who advances to the final round: an eight minute pitch followed by a 12 minute Q&A session. One such team was ARTEM, an electronic market that focuses on selling affordable priced-art. Its co-founder, Physics major and freshman Emily Vu, shares her experience developing ARTEM throughout the competition.

Back in high school, I frequently used an app called “Depop”, where anyone could buy and sell affordable clothes. It had an art section, but it was very neglected and no one really bought the art. That’s when an idea sparked into my head: What if there was an app that was specifically dedicated to affordable art? Even better, what if this app could create a community of underground artists? That’s when ARTEM was born. I strongly felt that this idea should happen, and college would be the perfect place to pursue it.

In debating between committing to UCSB or UCI, the ANTrepreneur Center was what finalized my decision to choose UCI. I first found out about the Center when I was at my SPOP orientation. I knew that it was something I had to be involved in because they provided all of the resources I needed for ARTEM. With one-on-one consultations, networking opportunities, competitions, weekly workshops, fireside chats, and an environment where I was surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurs, I eventually turned ARTEM from an idea into a startup.

I decided to compete in the New Venture Competition after hearing about it through the Center. Some of the interns competed in the competition in previous years, and they encouraged me to participate not only for the chance to win $10,000, but also for a a great learning experience. Even though ARTEM was in its early stages, I decided to dive in head first. I attended every NVC workshop, spoke with multiple mentors, and worked hard with my team on the concept paper and pitch deck.

I still remember the night before the pitch rounds. I didn’t rehearse the pitch a single time, because I didn’t want to embarrass myself; I gave a pitch in front of an audience once before and it didn’t go too well. It was already 8 pm, and I realized I really needed to start practicing my pitch.

I spent the next four hours rehearsing my pitch in front of my teammates, and it was terrible. I stuttered left and right, referred to my notes every five minutes, and my pitch didn’t convey enough of a story.

The next day, I spoke to another competitor, and she was just as nervous. That’s when I realized that I was in the same boat as everyone; I just had to show the judges my passion for this idea and convince them that it is realistic enough to work.

I’m extremely grateful to have competed in the competition and ultimately win first place, with the help of the ANTrepreneur Center, my family, and my friends. More than anything, the New Venture Competition gave me a glimpse of what the real startup world is like (it’s quite intense). It taught me how to manage my time, practice discipline, summarize and condense ideas, speak in public, and persuade an audience to believe in your idea even when it sounds unrealistic. These are things that will stick with me forever.

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