Yuma Abuzz with Entrepreneurial Energy as FORGE and Singleton Foundation's Venture Valley Tournament Draws Enthusiastic Crowd

Feb. 27, 2024
Students competing in the Venture Valley tournament

Yuma students competing in the Venture Valley tournament by playing an interactive game that teaches business skills

FORGE aims to cultivate entrepreneurial mindset everywhere the University of Arizona has a presence. On February 21st, FORGE partnered with The Singleton Foundation for Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship, University of Arizona Yuma, and the Southwest AG Summit at Arizona Western College to provide the opportunity for students to learn basic entrepreneurial skills and win cash through a Venture Valley Collegiate Cup Tournament.  Venture Valley is a fast-paced mobile and PC business strategy game where players take on the role of an entrepreneur, pitting their business savvy against others. 

This is the third partnership between University of Arizona FORGE and the Singleton Foundation to host Venture Valley tournaments. This fast-paced multiplayer business simulation game uses game-play to help players develop an understanding of basic business skills. Concepts learned include cause and effect on factors including pricing, wages, advertising, research and development, operational maintenance, product quality, and the cost and benefits of business loans.

Over 60 students attended the Yuma tournament, bringing lots of entrepreneurial spirit to the challenge.  Student champion Nathan Echeverria was the grand prize winner of the $2,000 prize. Students Sebastion Rojas and Leonid Reyes placed second and third, winning $1,000 and $500 prizes. 

Venture Valley winners Sebastion Rojas, Nathan Echeverria, and Leonid Reyes

Venture Valley winners Sebastion Rojas, Nathan Echeverria, and Leonid Reyes

FORGE coordinated the event with Tanya Hodges, the Regional Academic Programs Manager and Executive Director of Business Initiatives and Grant Development for University of Arizona Yuma Academic Center.

“The impact of the Venture Valley event on Yuma students was the development and increase of the innovative/entrepreneurial mindset, “ said Hodges. “Many Yuma college and university students only think about working for someone else. Venture Valley helped them see themselves as business owners and enabled them to dream about their future career goals through entrepreneurship opportunities. It also brought students together with these same career goals.”

Many student participants won smaller cash prizes and all students had an opportunity to learn about free, online programs from FORGE to nurture entrepreneurial know-how.  The FORGE team was on hand to talk about tools that any student can access including:

  • Entrepreneurial Mindset Assessment: a quick survey to help students understand their strengths and areas of improvement in the 8 domains of the entrepreneurial mindset.
  • Venturing 101: a free set of short, online courses that provide an overview of the venture process for anyone interested in learning the basics of venturing.
  • Online Student Consultations: students can meet with FORGE staff or peer coaches to get assistance with venture creation and development.
  • Flop! Lessons on failing today to fuel your tomorrow: virtual sessions for students and groups bringing stories of motivation, innovation, and resilience from professionals in a wide range of industries.
  • FORGE Fireside: podcasts and recorded video interviews offering insights from notable leaders and founders.
Notch founder Paul Cunningham connects with Paul Valdez

Paul Valdez chats with Notch founder Paul Cunningham about FORGE programs

“This was a great opportunity to meet an incredible group of highly motivated students who were unaware that these resources are available to them,” said Paul Valdez, Associate Director of Student Venture Pathways.  “It was fantastic to work with the Singleton Foundation and the team from Yuma. They did a great job sharing out this event and creating a fun and engaging environment for the tournament.”

In addition to online resources. FORGE also maintains a presence at the Yuma Academic Center where Mentor in Residence Randy Nelson provides one-on-one guidance.  Two FORGE Venture Advisor companies, Notch and Yuma Clinical Trials, are based in Yuma where they meet with Nelson regularly. 

Notch founder, Paul Cunningham, stopped by the tournament to take a look. 

“I’m very impressed by this,” Cunningham said. “This is a cool way to engage students in learning how to be entrepreneurial and it’s great that FORGE was able to bring this to Yuma.”

A huge thank you to everyone who competed and helped to organize this incredible event!  Through initiatives like these, FORGE continues to blaze a trail, empowering students with the knowledge and skills essential for entrepreneurial success.