Category Archives: Business Plans & Competitions

Business Contest Innovation | 2012 Maryland Pinterest Pitch Contest | Gov O’Malley

7 years ago I wrote a paper that included the case of Wisconsin as the first state hosting a business plan competition. Today, I learned via a student @georgemasonU that Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland was hosting a business plan contest on Pinterest. Brilliant, Simple, Fun!

Governor O’Malley with UMD President Wallace Loh and UMD Student Entrepreneur at the Cupids Cup in College Park. 30 March 2012

I saw O’Malley speak at the Cupid’s Cup a few weeks ago (see pic) and he was pretty hyped up about his state (where I live) and all of the things going on there for entrepreneurship. This latest turn is great! From Governor O’Malley’s office:

The contest will allow participants to pitch their businesses using 10 images on a Pinterest board. Winners will be featured on Governor Martin O’Malley’s Pinterest page and will also receive a prize courtesy of our generous partners at the Baltimore Angels.

Contest Guidelines and Rules

Submissions will consist of a maximum of 10 images arranged on a Pinterest board.

Images must be credited to the source and follow all copyright rules.

This contest is restricted to Maryland residents, students attending a Maryland University or College and Maryland based businesses.

All submissions must be received by April 30, 2012 at 5 p.m. (Eastern).

Board Categories

Pitches must be made in one of the following two categories:

Student Entrepreneurs: This category is limited to students enrolled in a K-12 or post secondary program at a Maryland school, college and/or University.

Bootstrappers: This category is limited to people and organizations who have not have raised money outside of family and friends.

The Awards

Submissions will be showcased on Governor Martin O’Malley’s website. Boards and pins will be available for public comment.

Following the public comment period, a panel of judges will select a first place and second place winner for each of the two categories.

First place winners will receive a MacBook Air and second place winners will receive an iPad courtesy of our generous partners at the Baltimore Angels. First place winners will also be featured on Governor Martin O’Malley’s official Pinterest page.

via 2012 Maryland Pinterest Pitch Contest.

Biggest Innovation in Higher Education Since Elective: The Future of Badges

When Thomas Jefferson and colleagues introduced the elective system at the University of VA, they radically altered the future of higher education in the US and globally. Will badges do the same thing? The Chronicle of Higher Education has an excellent commentary by Kevin Carey on badges and a recent badge competition. Carey at the Chronicle, A Future Full of Badges:

Meanwhile, across the mountains, in Silicon Valley, the Mozilla Foundation was also thinking about the future. Mozilla, a nonprofit organization built around the ethos of the open Internet, created the popular Firefox Web browser, which anyone can download, free. Along with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla is sponsoring a competition for the development of digital “open badges.” The first winners were announced last month, and one of them was the UC-Davis sustainable-agriculture program.

What is a digital badge, exactly? The MacArthur foundation says it’s “a validated indicator of accomplishment, skill, quality or interest,” which calls to mind the colorful pieces of cloth that Girl Scouts sew onto their sashes. But that’s a simplification that borders on meaninglessness. The winning Davis entry describes something far more sophisticated and important.

Instead of being built around major requirements and grades in standard three-credit courses, the Davis badge system is based on the sustainable-agriculture program’s core competencies—”systems thinking,” for example. It is designed to organize evidence of both formal and informal learning, from within traditional higher education and without.

Say you’re an employer considering a job candidate. Under “systems thinking,” the applicant’s badge portfolio would include some of the UC-Davis courses he’s passed, along with grades. But it would also include evidence of the applicant’s specific skills, like “integrated pest management,” which he might have learned working on a farm. Other badges would describe workshops attended, awards won, and specific projects completed. Each badge would allow the employer to click through to more detailed levels of evidence and explanation—documents, assessment results, hyperlinks, video, and more.

The badge system, moreover, isn’t just a transcript, CV, and work portfolio rolled together into a cool digital package. It’s also a way to structure the process of education itself. Students will be able to customize learning goals within the larger curricular framework, integrate continuing peer and faculty feedback about their progress toward achieving those goals, and tailor the way badges and the metadata within them are displayed to the outside world. Students won’t just earn badges—they’ll build them, in an act of continuous learning. Continue reading

Cupid’s Cup 2012 | Zombie Races | Food Prep Ed | 3D Sound Production

I attended the 7th Annual Cupid’s Cup Business Competition and watched as 5 teams pitched their businesses. Reed Street Productions, a Zombie race event company (see the video of their pitch below) has booked over $3 million in revenue in less than 2 years. (It must be noted that Cupid’s Cup is a BUSINESS COMPETITION, not a BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION — all competitors have operating firms — yes their revenues, development, profits, etc can vary widely)

Kevin Plank, Under Armour founder and CEO, underwrites the competition (it is named after the campus flower delivery service he created while an undergrad, walk on football player in College Park) and this year featured Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, UMD President Loh, and some other great visitors. Past winners and participants such as My Fridge Rental, Crooked Monkey, and North Star Games were present. The real participation of alumni entrepreneurs appears to be one of the strengths of University of Maryland, the Smith School of Business, and the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.

Over 600 people were there as Reed Street Productions, the Zombie race company (Run for Your Life!), gave a great pitch — including astounding sales, cash flow, and strategy results and exciting multimedia. They took home the $17,500 first prize and also won the audience choice award. (watch their pitch below)

Visit to ASU Skysong | G3Box | AZ Pro DJs | Coolest College Start-Up

Last week while in Scottsdale I was fortunate to visit with 3 of the founders of G3Box, a start-up out of ASU converting shipping containers into mobile medical clinics. Clay, Gabby, and Billy (John) are dynamic young entrepreneurs looking to solve a specific global problem and their successes so far really highlight the culture of entrepreneurship being built at ASU. Details of their story and the ASU programs, curriculum and people involved in their development will be included as we release portions of my research over the next 3-6 months.

While visiting G3Box at ASU’s Skysong‘s Edson student accelerator I was introduced to Will Curran, founder of Arizona Pro DJs an incredibly successful entertainment service provider that he founded at ASU. Will also works out of Skysong and is building a high impact firm — in terms of revenues, customers, wages paid etc. Will’s story highlights the concept of the campus as market for experimenting with new ideas and iterations and as a launching pad to move beyond campus or to other campuses.

Both G3Box and AZ Pro DJs are in the running for America’s Coolest College Start-Up, sponsored by Inc Magazine. You can watch their videos and vote for them. You can also check out a bunch of other great student firms.

Vote for your favorite America’s Coolest College Start-Up | Inc.com.

PitchIt! Conference & Challenge | WeMedia.com | Deadline 13 Mar 2012

$50,000 to help innovators, both commercial and social. Submit your idea to the We Media PitchIt Challenge by 9 pm 13 March 2012 and get a chance to win one of two $25,000 awards to build out your vision. Time is short, but if you can mobilize your supporter today you can get to the next round by community votes. (Submit your idearules/faqs)

Check out some of the ideas that have been submitted (they are broken out into commercial and non profit — #socent #socinn):

Review+: Review+ helps local businesses generate qualified prospects by leveraging their satisfied customers to build trust and awareness for them. Customer reviews are posted real-time, both on the customer’s Facebook wall, and on the vendor’s own website. What makes this possible is our proprietary remote content delivery system that offers a scalable mechanism to publish fresh and optimized content to the vendor website in real-time, with no manual intervention from the vendor.

Enable U: People with disabilities graduate college 10% less often and find employment 32% less often than people without disabilities. There are many businesses that want to hire more students with disabilities and would be happy to sponsor a non-profit program that helps diversify their workforce. Enable U will increase graduation rates and job placement rates by pairing disabled college students with peer mentors in their first & last semesters.

Radmatter: RadMatter innovates campus recruiting with best practices from leading online, social games – from World of Warcraft to Farmville. Our wildly captivating candidate experience provides intrinsic and extrinsic rewards related to winning career opportunities. RadMatter is important for society and the economy. We foster a happier, more engaged workforce in the the right jobs with the right companies.

 

 

 

PitchIt! Conference & Challenge | WeMedia.com.

TED Releases Educational Videos | Wired Campus | Disrupt Edu

TED is the latest to directly jump into the education market — offering something for those looking for online learning, open source edu, uncollege, hack edu, or any other angle on disrupting education. They are calling on top educators to step up and join in with a short lesson to share with the world. TED clearly has some understanding of what video learners want (its why I am videoing my research interviews and other events for remixing later into edu assets). From the Wired Campus column at the Chronicle of Higher Education:

The nonprofit group called TED, known for streaming 18-minute video lectures about big ideas, today opened a new YouTube channel designed for teachers and professors, with videos that are even shorter.The new channel, called TED-Ed, was announced a year ago, but its leaders are only now unveiling the project’s first videos. There are only 11 as of today, but the goal is to add new ones regularly. Within three months from now, a new video could appear each day, said Chris Anderson, TED’s curator, in a conference call with reporters late last week.To produce the new videos, the group is connecting content experts with professional animators to create highly illustrated productions. The average length of these videos is about five minutes, and Mr. Anderson said he envisions a teacher playing one in class at the start of a lesson “to ignite excitement” about the topic.

 

via TED, Known for Idea Talks, Releases Educational Videos – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

D.C.’s Newest Accelerator “The Fort” Debuts Inaugural Class | TechCrunch

More accelerator news in the DC Metro. From Techcrunch

Hot, new Washington D.C. tech accelerator known as The Fort is debuting its inaugural class of startups today. The organization grew out the efforts from early stage VC firm Fortify Ventures LLC, also known as Fortify.vc (that’s its URL, too), which had previously invested in nearly dozen D.C.-area tech companies.

Over the past 9 months, The Fort’s co-founders, Jonathon Perrelli and Carla Valdes, have been busy trying to spark innovation in the nation’s capital. They set up the fund, invested in group of startups, created the accelerator, hosted a pitch competition called “Distilled Intelligence” which handed out $25K to winners, and selected a dozen more startups for The Fort’s first program.

“D.C. is not a place where people are always working together,” says Perrelli of the group’s efforts, “but now there is this uprising. People are trying to build something here.”

He notes that the area, despite being the center of government where important policy decisions are made, has been slow to join in the burgeoning tech scene. But things have been changing. With The Fort, the hope is to provide a path to get D.C. area startups off the ground.

The program, which gives founders anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000 in seed capital, was lured to the area from nearby Arlington thanks to a $100,000 grant from D.C. Mayor Vicent Gray. Now set up in offices on K Street two blocks from The White House, the organization its opening its doors to 12 new companies who will spend 6 months in its program.

Its interesting to note that accelerator founders are now playing the  economic development game. And, once again we see more pressure on universities in the entrepreneurship education space. BTW, I met some of the founders in the The Fort’s first class at GWU’s Startup Job Fair earlier this week.  Some cool new ventures.

via D.C.’s Newest Tech Accelerator “The Fort” Debuts Inaugural Batch | TechCrunch.

London Business School | Luxury Business Plan Competition

Entrepreneurship education continues to evolve to meet the needs of students and the marketplace. The new luxury business plan competition at London Business School is an innovative new take on the classic bplan competition. From the Financial:

Applicants from London Business School are being invited to submit business plans that demonstrate pioneering thinking and innovative approaches in the luxury sector.

According to London Business School, the overall winner of the competition will receive a new business support package worth in excess of £10,000. Candidates who are successfully chosen for the final round of judging will receive access to experienced industry mentors from Walpole member companies as they develop their business plans in advance of the final stage of judging.

Applicants will be judged on the quality of their business concept and articulation of the innovation, which can include market, strategic, technological and other forms of innovation that can be reasonably demonstrated as new or evolutionary for the luxury industry.

The final judging will be conducted by an expert panel of luxury executives, investors and London Business School professors.

Could we see the rise of luxury brands out of bschools? Under Armour, Ecko, Nike, and others have come directly from students.

via The FINANCIAL – London Business School and Walpole launch Innovation in Luxury Business Plan Competition.

3 Ways to Accelerate Your Social Venture | #Socent #socinn

Scott Henderson of Mashable points to three ways to accelerate your social venture.

In exchange for equity stakes, for-profit accelerators and incubators provide robust resources and access to experts. Y Combinator, TechStars and a growing population of other companies have paved the way. Fortunately, social impact startups (for-profit and non-profit) are feeling the love, too, thanks to springboard organizations like Skoll Foundation, Scwab Foundation, Echoing Green and Ashoka.

Here are three more programs worth considering if you want to accelerate the growth of your social-impact startup.

Unreasonable Institute – Boulder, Colorado: Unreasonable’s marketplace is open; you can help determine or even be one of the projects selected for this summer’s program. Do you like the mountains and being connected to a global roster of mentors? Check this program out.

Civic Accelerator – Atlanta, Georgia: Just announced this year, the Points of Light Insitute’s Civic Incubator program is expanding to launch one of the first accelerators focused on social entrepreneurs. Learn more as it rolls out the program in the coming weeks and months.

MassChallenge – Boston, Massachusetts: In its third year, MassChallenge is open to all startups and has no strings attached. Compete for $1 million in cash prizes, interact with over 600 mentors and experts over four months, and enjoy free office space overlooking Boston Harbor. Four of last year’s top cash prize winners were social-impact startups. Apply for this year’s program starting March 1.

via 3 Best Social Good Startup Accelerators You’ve Never Heard Of.

Join the MIT IDEAS Global Challenge | #socent #socinn

The MIT Global Challenge is calling for help in identifying and solving global problems. There are a variety of ways to participate in this #socent activity.  Read more about how to get involved in the MIT Global Challenge.

This type of initiative highlights not only the support for innovation and problem solving on campuses (entrepreneurship) but also the openness and fluidity of the university — much as the frontier was open to all who could get there. (see the graphic below for just how open the MIT Global Challenge)

Join the MIT IDEAS Global Challenge | MIT IDEAS Global Challenge.