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2020 Applications are now open!



What is Campus 1871?


For one weekend a year, 1871 brings together more than 100 students from the the following 1871 University Partners:

DePaul University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University Chicago, Northwestern University, Trinity Christian College, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Illinois Springfield

Each year 1871 and their university partners team up to create Campus 1871, a pathway to innovation! Participating students have the chance to build a business and disrupt an industry through an immersive experience that will build their skills in collaboration, ideation, and problem-solving. After two days of intensive workshops, lectures, and mentoring, student-led teams pitch their businesses to a panel of industry leaders in Chicago’s tech community.

The weekend will include keynote speakers, mentorship, pitches, and a grand prize for the winning team! The purpose of Campus 1871 is to provide students with an opportunity to simulate the experience of building and pitching their own business.

*Note, you must be able to attend the entire event in order to be eligible, from Saturday, April 4 at 8 am through Sunday, April 5 at 3:00 pm. Campus 1871 will close for the evening at 10 pm on Saturday and re-open on Sunday at 7 am.


Applications are now open!


But I’m not a developer. Is that okay?

If you have the technical or creative abilities to build an app or functioning platform, that is great! However, it takes a team of cross-talented individuals to build great businesses. Any students interested in becoming founders, building a business, solving problems, developing ideas, pitching business ideas, and collaborating with other students should apply, regardless of their major.

How does the competition work?


Once students are accepted there will be an opportunity to connect virtually via Slack. Students can share one minute videos of their business idea – you aren’t required to pitch an idea, but we will need about 20-30 business ideas to form teams! Feel free to comment on the ideas you like! On the morning of Saturday, April 4th teams will be assigned and begin to develop a business strategy, create a value proposition, and build out the product. Over the course of the event, students will also receive basic startup courses, informative speeches, and mentorship. Using these lessons, students will participate in a culminating pitch contest on Sunday, April 5th, where each team will present their idea in front of a panel of expert judges. Competition winners may receive a number of assorted prizes!

Teams will be judged on the realistic potential of their business, their revenue plan, how well they pitch, and their overall design.


2020 Applications are now open!

Competition Rules:

  • Your product should be made from scratch and not from a device, platform or application you have already started working on.
  • You cannot outsource any of the coding or design components of your product.
  • You do not need to have a functioning product by the end of the weekend, but you will need to create visual demonstrations of what the app and user interface might look like and how it would work.
  • The general rules for the challenge will be presented at the beginning of the event.

Pitching Rules:

  • Your presentation must be created and presented in Microsoft PowerPoint
  • You have 3 minutes to pitch your company to a panel of judges and 2 minutes for questions from the judges
  • You must choose 1 person from your team to pitch
  • You will be judged on the following categories:
    • The realistic potential of your business
    • Your revenue plan
    • How well you pitch
    • Overall design

When will I be notified on whether I’ve been accepted or not?

Applicants will be notified of the status of their acceptance at the end of February 2020.

If you are interested in getting involved as a volunteer, sponsor or if you just want to learn more, please feel free to reach out to [email protected].

2020 Applications are now open!