Do you have a compelling seed or early-stage venture?
Seeking investors to take it to the next level?

The Galant Challenge connects seed and early-stage ventures from the UVA community with potential investors. Since launching in 2012, the annual pitch competition hosted by the McIntire School of Commerce's Galant Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is one of the nation's premier university startup events, with significant funding by investors each year. In the 2022 Challenge, more than $3 million was invested in six companies by our panel of investors. The 2023 Challenge reached historic levelsentrepreneur teams who pitched raised more than $15 million to take their ventures to the next level.

The 2024 Galant Challenge took place at UVA on April 25, 2024.

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How It Works

Entrepreneurs in the UVA community are invited to submit a pitch to the Galant Challenge, UVA's premiere startup event connecting seed and early-stage ventures with potential investors. Since the Challenge started in 2012, more than $25 million has been invested in teams selected to pitch in the Challenge.

Eligibility: UVA students, alumni, faculty, and staff who are founders or members of the startup's management team are eligible to apply. Four to six finalist teams are ultimately chosen to showcase at the Galant Challenge. 

Submit Your Pitch: Include all requested information to ensure your submission receives full consideration. Each submission should include a short PowerPoint describing your concept in 10-20 slides. Check out Guy Kawasaki's 10-20-30 approach. Each submission should also include your five-minute "elevator pitch" video; cell phone footage is perfectly appropriate.

Deadline: The 2024 deadline has passed. All pitches were due through our online submission form no later than midnight EST on Friday, March 8. Submission must not include proprietary data. Photos and videos will be taken during the Challenge.

Save the Date! Finalists pitch in person at the McIntire School of Commerce in Charlottesville at the Galant Challenge. Submitters are notified by email if their venture is selected as a finalist.

Investor Panel

Shelby Bonnie (McIntire '86)
Shelby Bonnie (McIntire '86)
Chairman of the Board, RPX Corporation

Shelby Bonnie was an early pioneer in the Internet space. He was a Co-Founder of CNET Networks in 1993 and ran it as Chairman and CEO from 2000 to 2006. He led efforts at CNET to innovate in the advertising space and was Chairman of the IAB from 2001 until 2003. He was named Publisher of the Year by the IAB in 2006. After CNET, he started, ran, and ultimately sold Whiskey Media. He worked as a Managing Director at Allen & Company from 2012 to 2016 before starting Pylon AI in 2016. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of RPX Corporation. He also serves at the Vice Chairman of the Environmental Defense Fund. 

Ralph Sampson (A&S '83)
Ralph Sampson (A&S '83)
Founder and CEO of The Sampson Group

As the Founder and CEO of TSG, Ralph Sampson, basketball legend and Hall of Famer, is renowned for his college and NBA career and business savvy. Standing at 7 feet 4 inches, his unmatched versatility and skill earned him multiple college Player of the Year awards, All-Star titles, and the NBA Rookie of the Year, revolutionizing the center position. Beyond basketball, Mr. Sampson has excelled as an entrepreneur, applying his strategic insight across various industries and emerging as a formidable figure in the business world. His commitment extends to community involvement and philanthropy, focusing on youth empowerment, education, and health. Mr. Sampson's legacy embodies excellence in athletics, business acumen, and community service, serving as an enduring inspiration across multiple spheres.


Marty Weiner
Marty Weiner
Founding Engineer, Pinterest

Marty was a founding engineer at Pinterest and spent 4.5 exciting years building Pinterest from tiny to big. In 2015 he joined Reddit as its first CTO tasked with helping bring the company into working order. Much gray hair was created, but now Reddit has even IPO’d and is on the next leg of its story. He "retired" in 2019 and now spends his time advising companies on how to grow from tiny to IPO, while chasing kids around the house and building full size droids (and with the AI explosion happening, hoping to make these droids do things that scare us a little. Marty sits on the board of the Tom Tom Foundation, where he's helping put together the 2024 Technology for Good Track.

Mark Galant (McIntire '80)
Mark Galant (McIntire '80)
CEO, Tydall Investment Partners; Founder, Galant Center for Entrepreneurship

Mark Galant is the Founder of GAIN Capital/, a leading online FX trading firm. He served as CEO from its beginning in 1999 until 2007. Mr. Galant continued as Chairman until December 2010, when the firm went public on the NYSE. Before GAIN, his Wall Street trading career included Global Head of Options for Credit Suisse. He followed GAIN with the founding of Tydall Trading, a high-frequency algorithmic trading firm, trading over $10 billion a day. He currently is the CEO of Tydall Holdings, a real estate development and startup investment firm. Mr. Galant holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in Commerce (Finance) from the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Galant Challenge?

The Galant Challenge is a "Shark Tank"-style pitch event held annually at the University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce to expose startups founded by UVA community members (students, alumni, faculty, and staff) to potential investors.  The Galant Challenge has resulted in more than $25 million in capital raised for finalists since 2012.

Who are the investors?

Led by Mark E. Galant (McIntire '80), the investor panel changes annually but is typically composed of leading entrepreneurs and investors ready to put real capital into the final ventures selected to pitch. In recent years the panel featured Paul Tudor Jones (A&S '76) of Tudor Investment Corporation, Baiju Bhatt, Co-Founder of Robinhood, and John Griffin (McIntire '85) of Blue Ridge Capital, among others.

Who has been funded in past Galant Challenges?

Each year, dozens of pitches are submitted to the Galant Challenge, with four to six ventures ultimately selected to pitch in person to our panel of investors at the UVA McIntire School of Commerce. Of those, many are selected for funding by one or more investors, with the total dollars committed jumping from $1.8 million in 2021 to $3.1 million in 2022. The 2023 event reached historic levels: Entrepreneur teams seeking funding raised more than $15 million to take their ventures to the next level. 

Check out the Past Events section below for recaps of each year's Challenge, with details about the companies and investments that resulted.

Can anyone attend the Challenge?

The Challenge is open to the public, but we request that you RSVP.  

Media must reach out to Amanda Morris at to RSVP.