EAST LANSING, Mich.-Michigan State University FCU plans to bring back its "startUP Challenge" again in 2013 after awarding $25,000 in the first year.

The startUP Challenge awarded the $25,000 to a local entrepreneur as part of a promotion tied to the $250,000 loan pool the credit union created to provide loans of up to $15,000 to start-up businesses. This year's winning entry was Crowd Lansing, a locally based website that will help connect potential investors to other startups from across the country looking for funders.

MSUFCU EVP/COO April Clobes reported that 35 people applied to take part in the program, including submitting business plans and being evaluated by CU officials, local entrepreneurs and others. "To me, for a first-year program, that was an outstanding amount of people to enter," she said.

For the 2013 incarnation, MSUFCU plans to set up a partnership with the Spartan Innovations entrepreneurial center on the MSU campus "to help increase the scope and participation" of the challenge.

Another change the $2.3-billion, 169,000-member credit union hopes to make in the coming year is to draw out the timeline, both to get more people to apply and also create more of an event. Clobes said that this year's participants made presentations to the judges but then had to wait a few weeks while the judges deliberated. "We want to create more of an event on the pitch day and do a big reveal of who the contest winner is," she said.

Business lending is a new feature for MSU FCU, and Clobes initially said that increasing awareness of that was one of the main goals for the challenge. She said it's too soon to share raw numbers-some people are still applying for loans from a fund specifically set up to go along with the challenge, she said-and data is not yet available about how many business loan applications were accepted versus applications funded.

"We see significant percentage increases every month, so I can't say it's just due to natural growth and the inception of the program or if it's been boosted by (the challenge) as well."

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the credit union industry

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.