events | University News

Students Have Opportunity to Pitch Business Ideas to KC Entrepreneur Barnett Helzberg, Jr.

By Jeff Murphy, October 24, 2018

Barnett Helzberg Jr. EventWARRENSBURG, MO – University of Central Missouri students who have great ideas for a startup business could win an opportunity to pitch those ideas to successful Kansas City entrepreneur, business mentor and philanthropist, Barnett Helzberg, Jr. Helzberg is coming to campus Tuesday, Nov. 6 to provide a presentation and business pitch opportunity as part of the Big Idea Speaker Series in the College of Business and Professional Studies.

Made possible through the sponsorship of the Blaine Whitworth Memorial Foundation, Helzberg will be on campus from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in Ward Edwards Room 2000. His presentation and an opportunity to be considered for a pitch presentations is open to all UCM graduate and undergraduate students, according to Dan Jensen, a faculty member in the college who is coordinating the event. Jensen is an assistant professor and program coordinator for the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise and Master of Science in Leadership programs.

Students who have business ideas they would like to pitch are encouraged to submit them electronically by 8 a.m. Monday Nov. 5, using the online form.

All submissions will be reviewed by the Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise program faculty beginning at the entry form due date. Winning submissions will be announced during the Speaker Series presentation featuring Barnett at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 6. The top three students will each get 15 minutes to pitch to Helzberg and receive his advice.

“Other students who submit their ideas will also get a chance to pitch, but much more quickly and will get less feedback from Mr. Helzberg and the audience,” Jensen said.

Helzberg is the founder of the Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program and past board chairman for Helzberg Diamonds. He expanded the company from 15 units in 1962 into the third largest jewelry retailer in 23 states. The company was sold to Berkshire Hathaway in 1995.  Helzberg is the author of a book that followed, “What I Learned Before I Sold to Warren Buffet.” Helzberg and his wife, Shirley, also established the Shirley and Barnett Helzberg Foundation, which supports the arts, as well as education and human services. They have supported UCM through their philanthropy.

The Big Idea Speaker Series is conducted multiple times in the fall and spring semesters at UCM. It brings entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders to campus for presentations, and provides educational opportunities and “lessons learned” from experienced entrepreneurs who speak before an audience of UCM students, faculty, staff and community business professionals.

To learn more about the Big Idea Speaker Series or other Big Idea events at UCM, contact


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