Mendoza hosts ideas challenge
Megan Doyle | Thursday, October 1, 2009
The Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Mendoza College of business hosted Ideas Challenge 2009 on Wednesday night to encourage student innovation and make connections in order to spur scheme development.
The second annual Ideas Challenge serves as an informal precursor to the Notre Dame Business Plan Competitions. The Business Plan Competitions are yearlong events offering students the chance to vie for forty thousand dollars in prize money students by developing designs for business ventures.
“This night is really intended to be a celebration of ideas and innovations,” Program Manager Karen Slaggert said.
Students from all colleges were invited to present their unique ideas in an informal setting. The concept of an Ideas Challenge developed when the Gigot Center saw the need to expand the accessibility of the Business Plan Competitions to non-business majors.
“The Ideas Challenge should serve as a user-friendly outlet for the development of ideas. We wanted to reduce the sense of intimidation for students who do not have business experience but want to participate,” Slaggert said.
The participants, including graduates and undergraduates, represented every college on campus, and the over forty ideas presented ranged in topic from science to electronic networking to service projects.
Students were allotted about 90 seconds to come up with their own “elevator pitch.” This activity simulated a chance encounter with a prospective investor while riding in an elevator and allowed presenters one shot to make a strong impression.
“I intend to participate in the Business Plan Competitions on campus, and I am excited to see what everyone here has to offer,” junior Caitlin Putt said. “There are great resources available here in terms of ideas and talents.”
After the presentations, attendees voted on the best proposals, resulting in a three-way tie.
One of the winning teams, named Team LED Zeppelin, implemented guitar music into an Electrical Engineering Senior Design project.
Seniors Matt Prelee, Jon Altenburger, Rob Jones and Arthur Kinsey developed an idea to use LED markers to teach musical instruments to beginners.
Another participant, junior Mike Taylor, suggested a Web site to offer advice to high school students hoping to become entrepreneurs.
“I mowed lawns in high school, and I think that this would be a great way to give back to the community and help kids trying to manage their own businesses,” Taylor said.
“Listening to all of the ideas that are put forward here can inspire everyone to develop new thoughts as well,” freshman Andrew Charnesky said.
Program Manager Melissa Paulson said she was excited by the positive turnout at the Ideas Challenge.
“Over 140 people were here tonight, and over 40 gave presentations. I saw a great number of social proposals in the room, but I was also impressed by the balance between disciplines,” she said. “Really, I am so glad that so many students were not afraid to get up, pitch their ideas, and have fun with this night.”
The Ideas Challenge is one way in which the Gigot Center has responded to the opening for entrepreneurs in today’s job market.
“So much incentive to take risks is present right now because of the difficulty of breaking into the job market,” Slaggert said. “Our mission is to educate students and create a buzz about innovation so students can become agents of change as they head into the real world.”