The new podcast follows four college teams through the Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC) as the students prepare to pitch and compete for up to $3 million in prizes in one of the largest and richest intercollegiate startup competitions. The miniseries is hosted by This Is Small Business’ Andrea Marquez, a future small business owner, and welcomes Mitchella Gilbert (“Mitch”), founder of OYA Femtech Apparel and an ex-RBPC competitor, as co-host.
Similar to This Is Small Business episodes, the miniseries offers valuable insights and learnings for entrepreneurs looking to succeed in the world of business pitch competitions or business owners looking to make their business more attractive for potential investors.
Here’s what to look for:

Page overview

Key business insights

Key business insights
High-pressure environment
Diverse perspectives
Money, money, money
Key business insights
A photo of two students talking in a hallway.Alex Duncan and Kevin Long from Outmore Living, one of the four teams that the miniseries follows.

Every episode is filled with valuable lessons that the hosts and competitors are learning as they go. We’ll hear from competitors as they prepare before the competition and check in with them after every round of feedback with judges and investors. We’ll also be hearing from judges, investors, and event organizers as they give us insight to the makings of a successful and outstanding pitch.

“Is this a company into which I and other investors are willing to put our money? I want to see passion from the team. I want to see them on fire and that they are so driven to succeed that I absolutely want to jump along for the ride.” —Mitra Miller, RBPC judge and angel investor

High-pressure environment
A photo of a man standing with his arms crossed next to a woman whose hand is on her hip. They are standing outside.Julio Fredin and Sloane Tilley from Dia, one of the four teams that the miniseries follows. Photo by Slyworks Photography

Competitors are at Rice University for three days where they have to give 15-minute pitches and a 60-second elevator pitch a number of times. They receive feedback from judges and must implement it within hours before they have to do it all over again. The atmosphere is busy and tense, with limited sleep.

“There were so many forces and stakeholders and actors, and they're probably in competition season, so it's not exactly like this is the only competition. It's like they have competitions on competitions, and they're probably not sleeping that much in general, so everything's happening at one time and you're just really holding onto the wheel trying to survive.” —Mitch Gilbert, CEO of Oya Femtech Apparel, past competitor at RBPC, and This Is Small Business Next Generation co-host

Diverse perspectives
A photo of two people walking through a hallway. Mitch Gilbert and Andrea Marquez, This Is Small Business Next Generation co-hosts

We will hear every point of view in the miniseries, from competitors to judges, investors, volunteers, organizers, and past event winner Mitch Gilbert.

“The more I think about the competition, the more I realize it's less about whatever place we get and more about the journey of figuring out our business plan and the process, talking to the mentors that we're going to get connected with, getting the feedback from everyone, and improving our goal. And at the end of the day, bringing this thing to the world … If we could do that, then that's a win.” —Shiv Bhakta, co-founder of Active Surfaces, RBPC competitor

Money, money, money
A photo of three adults laying on a wood floor.Shiv Bhakta, Richard Swartwout, and Khalid McCaskill from Active Surfaces, one of the four teams that the miniseries follows. Photo by Slyworks Photography

Competitors have a chance to win up to $3 million in prize money with more than 20 additional prizes offered. This amount of money makes a major impact on the the future of the competing startups.

“It's so easy whenever you have so many balls in the air to get overwhelmed and start looking down the road of 'how am I going to get all these things done?'” —Sloane Tilley, CEO of Dia, RBPC competitor

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A photo of two team members presenting to an university classroom in the Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC).Bilal Issifou from Unchained Inc.,one of the four teams that the miniseries follows

The miniseries is a documentary-reality format that digs deep into how the competitors are feeling, the challenges they are facing, and what’s at stake for them and their future.

“I think business school so much focuses on leading a business or being in an existing business, but the act of starting a business is really different. It's doing it alone. It's being a founder. It's taking a leap that's much harder. It's really like the NCAA tournament of business startup competitions. And so, you feel that pressure. And if you're a business owner or a founder, pressure needs to bring out the best in you. You need to find a way to get the nerves down and just be who you are.” —Peter Rodriguez, dean of the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University

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The first episode of This is Small Business Next Generation launches on Tuesday, June 20 and will be available to listen on Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Listen to the trailer and subscribe to This is Small Business.