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Invest in Entrepreneurship at The University of Alabama

Raised toward our $1,000,000 Goal
50 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on November 21, at 11:59 PM CST
Project Owners

University of Alabama | Crimson Venture Fund

Propelling Entrepreneurship Students

Funding to GROW their Businesses

Crimson Venture Fund

This is how it works. Your tax-deductible donation goes into the Crimson Venture Fund. This is a restricted gift account at the University of Alabama.

Crimson Accelerator Program

Next, the money is used to fund the UA Crimson Accelerator program. It helps UA students by providing initial funding to start their own businesses. How does that work? The company gets $50,000 in addition to a summer of acceleration. In exchange the University gets six percent equity which creates an ecosystem of sustained support for the fund which helps new companies go through future accelerators.

What Happens When a Company Hits the Jackpot

The money made by any wins goes back into the Crimson Venture Fund. This means your money gets stretched. Your investment leads to the acquisition of additional funds that can be used for more accelerator programs, or it can help students in other ways focused on learning entrepreneurship.

 The Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute Story

At The University of Alabama, the Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute (AEI) has been growing businesses, creating jobs, and providing students with opportunities to engage in real-world experiences. Entrepreneurship work ramped up in 2016 when a team of faculty and alumni began getting ready to move into and manage The EDGE, a brand new, high technology 26,300 square foot incubator and accelerator.

The Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute (AEI) developed a growth and expansion strategy to

  • find innovators and entrepreneurs
  • build businesses and
  • grow businesses

River Pitch a 3-Minute Business Idea Pitch Competition 

Over the last five years, we can see the results of the growth work of AEI.

  • 2016 - Dr. Theresa M. Welbourne hired as the Will and Maggie Brooke Professor in Entrepreneurship and Executive Director of Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute (AEI). Theresa joins a group of faculty across the University who have been working on entrepreneurship, supporting student business owners, and expanding resources on campus.
  • 2017 - Edward K. Aldag, Jr. supports the expansion of the annual business plan competition with a $50,000 grand prize that helps accomplish priority #1 = finding innovators and entrepreneurs. The annual competition expands to 40 teams. The first annual River Pitch (3-minute business idea pitch) competition is added. 

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2021 Aldag First Place Winners: 210 Diagnostic Solutions

  • 2018 - Community business competition added; student competition expands.
  • 2019 - February - Grand opening of The EDGE; first summer Crimson Entrepreneurship Academy (CAE, a pre-accelerator) offered. Numerous workshops, learning events and networking programs held at The EDGE. First pilot accelerator program. Darryl Robinson accepted the role as chair of the newly formed AEI advisory board, leading a group of UA alumni dedicated to helping support entrepreneurship on campus.  
  • 2020 - The COVID-19 year - the competitions continue virtually. Added the first faculty and staff pitch competition. Summer pre-accelerator run virtually. The pre-accelerator has had a 77% success rate to date - helping to meet AEI’s second strategic goal of building businesses. Accelerator initiative on hold due to the pandemic.
  • 2021 - 55 student teams compete in the Aldag business plan competition; over 20 faculty / staff submit to compete in the pitch competition. The summer Crimson Entrepreneurship Academy was back in person at The EDGE with 25 students representing 19 teams. Accelerator program funding begins with a crowdfunding campaign to meet the 3rd strategic goal of helping students grow their businesses.


2021 Crimson Entrepreneurship Academy 


AEI has had success in finding innovators and entrepreneurs; success in helping them build their businesses BUT we now need your help in propelling our entrepreneurs with funding to GROW their businesses.

We are raising $1,000,000 dollars to help entrepreneur students grow and accelerate their businesses. We are launching the UA Crimson Venture Fund, and it will provide the finances to run the Crimson Accelerator Program, which we piloted in 2018 and 2019. After our success we are ready to go with our first cohort.


Get Involved 

The AEI team is looking for volunteers who can help coach students to meet milestones in the program. They also need judges, guest speakers and individuals who can help out in numerous other ways.  If you want to be part of the success story, please email Dr. Welbourne and get involved today.  

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Reboot Reforestation

2021 Aldag Business Plan Competition Grand Prize Winner

Reboot Reforestation (2021 Aldag Competition Grand Prize Winner)


Reboot Reforestation aims to plant 1 billion trees by 2030 using innovative drone technology!

Drone Reforestation, Ecological Surveys, and Conservation

Reboot Reforestation has partnered with The National Oceanic and Applications Research Center to develop a seed scattering device to attach to heavy lift drones for efficient and cost-effective reforestation and restoration even in hazardous terrain. Reboot Reforestation offers ecological surveys of ecosystem health, productivity, dump sites, coastline dynamics, plant species, and invasive species. Reboot Reforestation is partnering with Coldwater Gardens to establish a gopher tortoise sanctuary in a restored longleaf pine savanna ecosystem.

Choose a giving level


Idea Spark

Friends who donate at this level will receive an AEI pen so you can quickly jot down your own new ideas.


Idea Maker

Friends who donate at this level will receive an AEI pen and notepad so you can not only jot down your own ideas but share them with friends and family.


Entrepreneur Coach

Friends who donate at this level will receive an AEI coffee cup; this allows you to sip on your coffee while talking to an entrepreneur.


Entrepreneur Builder

Friends who donate at this level will receive an AEI coffee cup and a pen for thinking with coffee and note taking.


Entrepreneur Team Supporter

Friends at this level will receive an AEI coffee cup, notebook, and pen – you are all set to have caffeinated conversations, take notes, and share those notes.


Entrepreneur Business Builder

Any donation of $10,000 or more provides you with membership in the Crimson Entrepreneurship Angel Network. You have the opportunity to coach and mentor companies and also have the first opportunity to personally invest in the graduating startups. Friends at this level will receive an AEI swag bag with an assortment of gifts to remind you how much you are helping build our teams.


Entrepreneur Legend Maker

Any donation of $10,000 or more provides you with membership in the Crimson Entrepreneurship Angel Network. You have the opportunity to coach and mentor companies and also have the first opportunity to personally invest in the graduating startups. Supporters at this level become an AEI Associate. You will have opportunities to attend AEI football weekend events, workshops, meet the entrepreneurs in the various programs, meet potential interns interested in entrepreneurship in established organizations and coach the start-up teams (both virtually and in person). You will receive a personalized swag box.


Angel Network Builder

Rise to angel status; at this level you are not only an AEI associate but also become a founding member of the AEI Angel Network. At this level, you will help us build out the angel network and be part of the group helping to determine who to include in the accelerator classes. You also will be the first to meet class members and as such, you also are the first to have an opportunity to personally invest in these companies when they graduate from the accelerator.