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Ideas Challenge promotes competition

Tony Rivera | Thursday, September 22, 2011

From Craigslist for college students to cell phone cases that double as cordless chargers, the ideas were flying freely in the Mendoza College of Business basement Wednesday.

As part of the Ideas Challenge Competition, sponsored by the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship Studies, students had no more than 60 seconds to stand in front of their peers and pitch their new business ventures.

The Ideas Challenge is “a fun, spontaneous and energetic celebration of entrepreneurship,” Assistant Director of the Gigot Center, Karen Slaggert, said. “Tonight encourages students to think innovatively, and the ideas presented tonight were amazing.”

The competition, open to all students regardless of major, was a chance for students to become entrepreneurs without any kind of formal presentation.

Senior Kyle Collins said his idea was to create a company that would use coffee grounds from used Keurig cups to make household deodorizers, a process known as “up-cycling.”

“Tonight was neat because it was very informal,” he said.

Collins said the atmosphere also allowed for a wide range of ideas.

MBA student Mike Worthington said his idea was to create a medical strip that people with diabetes could dip into their drinks and measure their level of sugar consumption.

“The idea came from my strategic management class,” Worthington said. “Originally [the product] was aimed to test all kinds of nutrients, but I figured it would be more marketable if I targeted it to one area.”

Some students also presented their ideas as partners.

First-time participants Stephen Zerfas and Dominic Romeo, both sophomores, said they saw the night as a great opportunity to share their ongoing idea for a secondary market for microfinance, one that they first began thinking about long before the challenge.

“We discussed multiple ideas,” Zerfas said. “We have been thinking since the first semester of last year, so we figured a night like this would be a good way to get their foot in the door.”

Sophomore Zac Bublitz took the opportunity to present his idea for a product aimed at making messy foods easier to eat.

“Taco tape would be an edible adhesive that you could apply to any sort of food,” he said. “It could be practical and cleaner for when you’re, say, driving a car.”

Slaggert said she was surprised by the large turnout at the Ideas Challenge.

“We actually lost track of the students coming in after 180,” she said. “Students were coming and going, looking for a place to sit, sitting on the floor.”

At the end of the night, winners of the competition were announced based off the votes cast by students.