My first foray into entrepreneurship occurred last fall as a graduate student at Georgetown University. Within the first week of my Master’s program, I had to learn how to tap into my creativity and believe in my ideas when, as part of one of my program’s introductory courses, I was assigned to design a new, unique mobile application.
The mobile application project presented a challenge in that apps are some of the most common business ventures in our current time and the marketplace is full of hundreds of digital platforms designed to meet individuals’ everyday needs. Was there really room in the marketplace for my new app idea? The project seemed like an impossible task. It is hard to judge what society at large considers important. More specifically, it is challenging to judge whether or not my idea will sound as great when explained out loud as it did in my own head.
Some of my fellow students in the course banded together after the assignment wrapped up to take their ideas to the next level. A group launching an application called “Privacy Pirate” even entered Georgetown’s Rocket Pitch business competition, an event run through GEW USA partner Startup Hoyas: The Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative. The Rocket Pitch competition occurs annually and invites students to present two-minute elevator pitches to a panel of judges, as well as, an audience of peers and professionals (Startup Hoyas). Students who participate in the competition are given scores from the audience, with a chance of winning cash prizes should they fall within the top three presenters. Participants also attend a networking event where they receive feedback from judges and entrepreneurs within the Washington, DC area.
Business competitions such as Rocket Pitch are important for aspiring entrepreneurs because of the doors they can open. In general, universities strive to foster creativity in their students through unique class assignments, such as my own mobile application project. Moreover, university sponsored-programs like business competitions further these initiatives in that they offer students support, feedback, and encouragement to promote their ideas, which is sometimes all a student really needs to get the ball rolling.
Since the competition, “Privacy Pirate” has reformed around their idea and is utilizing the positive feedback they received. The group is currently involved in efforts to launch their mobile application in the marketplace within the next few years. Similarly, my own project group titled “Borrow App” has also been inspired to embark on a similar path.
I encourage aspiring entrepreneurs and students to participate in these competitions in any way possible because it is truly an inspirational experience – for participants as much as spectators. Students can especially benefit from university-run competitions because of their connections to industry, research, alumni networks, and other great resources. The greatest source of motivation and encouragement can be found in some of the most unlikely places; it is just a matter of finding the right fit for your idea.