Big Ideas Challenge brings innovative ideas to life

The Big Ideas Challenge is an annual venture competition hosted at Minnesota State University, Mankato where students pitch their innovative business ideas to faculty and peers and compete to win prizes. 

 Applicants send in their applications, containing their initial idea for review a few months prior to the competition. Before being selected to compete, finalists go through a rigorous qualification and evaluation phase and are then connected with mentors that work with students and help them formulate and finalize their business plans.  The competition is open to all majors. 

“It’s a great opportunity for anyone that has an idea, that they need help starting or have already started but just need a little bit more help, to get it off the ground and win prizes that they can put towards their business,” added Ashley Niss, the administrative coordinator for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, when explaining the opportunity the competition provides for students here at MSU. 

Last Thursday, the finalists for the 2022 Big Ideas Challenges gathered in Ostrander Auditorium in the Centennial Student Union to showcase their business plans. The finalists prepared presentations that discussed future milestones and included profitability projections and revenue and loss forecasts for their startups to convince the judges to vote for their ideas.

The start-ups presented by the finalists this year were ELEVATUS, Dialekt, USIL, X-Lease, and Dr. Queen Bee LLC. 

A panel of judges evaluated the ideas presented and analyzed their business plans while reviewing key financial information. 

Logan Sendel, the first-place winner of the Big Ideas Challenge in 2020 for his company Lakeshore Potential, was also in attendance and a judge on the panel. 

Sendel spoke to the audience about his own experiences when competing in 2020 and spoke about how the opportunity along with the prize money helped his company get its initial kickoff. 

“Thank you to everybody that donated that prize money and to everybody that puts this event on,” said Sendel. “It was a great experience for us, and I don’t think we would have been able to get as far without this experience.”

He also had advice for the students in the audience that intend on being future entrepreneurs and are interested in starting their own businesses and encouraged them to feed their entrepreneurial spirit. 

“If you have an idea and you’re passionate about it just jump in and do it and ask for help from other people around you,” added Sendel. 

The night concluded with the announcement of the winners. Dailekt took home collective prize money of $5000 by winning the People’s Choice Award as well as winning the High-Tech Division. 

ELEVATUS won $2000 in third place, Dr Queen Bee won $3000 in second place and USIL took home the first place title and the $5000 award. 

The first-place winner automatically qualifies for the 2022 Minnesota Cup in the youth division. Minnesota Cup is a startup competition for Minnesota’s entrepreneurs. The competition kicked off in March of this year and will conclude in September. The final award ceremony is scheduled for September 19, 2022.

Header Photo:  The Big Ideas Challenge is an annual competition that showcases various students’ business ideas and inventions. This year thousands of dollars were awarded to a variety of categories. (Ajay Kasaudhan/The Reporter)

Write to Hafsa Peerzada at Syedahafsa.peerzada@mnsu.edu

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