The Meredith Social Entrepreneurship Challenge (MSEC) is giving students an opportunity to test their skills in a “Shark Tank” style competition.
The final stage of the Challenge will be a Community Showcase on Wednesday, April 12 in Johnson Hall rotunda. From 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., the community can view poster exhibits, speak to semi-finalists about their proposals, and vote for their favorite idea. The winners will be announced at the showcase.
The MSEC, sponsored by the School of Business, was created in response to the increasing popularity of entrepreneurial businesses.
“Fifty-five percent of the U.S. workforce now works for a firm with fewer than 100 employees,” said Assistant Professor of Business Nathan Woolard, who is leading the program. “This is a co-curricular program aimed at teaching the merits of small business ownership and scalable business growth in a meaningful way.”
MSEC began in February with an elevator pitch competition. Students entered the competition by submitting an executive summary to would be reviewed by seven independent alumnae business owners. This stage required participants to put their business ideas in writing, and to consider the feasibility, market potential, business model, competition, and social good of the concept.
“This was a great learning opportunity in and of itself,” said Woolard said. “It helped participants to understand the difference between a good idea and a good business idea.”
Twenty semifinalists were chosen from the elevator pitch competition. In preparation for a speedpitch workshop, semifinalists were expected to further refine their ideas, including startup expenses and ongoing costs. The workshop involved spending five minutes each with eight different business owners.
On March 30-31, semifinalists will present their ideas in a forum similar to the TV show Shark Tank. Meredith alumnae will serve as judges.
“The goal is for students to get a deeper understanding of business and to see that although business ownership is hard work, it is realistic and attainable,” Woolard said.
Social good is another focus of the Challenge.
“We want students to understand how businesses can serve as both economic and social change agents,” Woolard said. “Good businesses center on solving problems, both for communities and for people, and we want students to see the connection.”