VentureStart competition encourages student entrepreneurs

by Melissa Artobello

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The goal: create a team, design an elaborate business model and win cash prizes. On Tuesday, Sept. 24, 50 San Diego State students gathered in the Arts and Letters building for the first workshop of the Lavin VentureStart Competition presented by SDSU alumni.

The VentureStart Competition focuses on start-up and business model development and rewards students for innovative ideas. The competition involves three workshops, in which students are taught valuable skills about the business industry in preparation for their final submissions. Last Tuesday the first workshop, “Information, Ideation, Trend Spotting,” was held centering on stimulating business ideas by spotting trends that have potential as future businesses.

Lavin Entrepreneurship Center Programs Director Bernhard Schroeder led the workshop and provided students with real-life examples about trends and starting a business. Schroeder then challenged the students to form groups and create a business idea for the pet industry. The groups had to create a unique business idea, determine the targeted consumers and establish how to distribute their products. The groups shared their ideas around the room before they were dismissed.

This workshop marked the beginning of a two-month process. On Oct. 8, the teams will attend the second workshop to learn about the key elements of a business model canvas and how to apply that information to their own products. Oct. 24 will be the third and final workshop “Business Model Iteration,” discussing and incorporating consumer interaction to the contestants’ models. After the three workshops, the teams’ ideas are submitted and four to five teams are chosen on Nov. 1 as finalists. On Nov. 12, the finalists will present their models to a panel of judges, ranging from professors to entrepreneurs to patent experts. Each entry will receive feedback from this elite panel of judges, but only three teams will walk away with cash prizes. Third place will receive $150, second place $250 and first place $500 in addition to the Lavin VentureStart Competition Trophy.

The event is hosted by the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center within SDSU’s College of Business Administration. The center was created by SDSU alumni and is supported by entrepreneurs such as Leonard Lavin, founder of Alberto Culver. Because of Lavin’s generous gift to the center, the Lavin VentureStart Competition was made possible. Along with the competition, the center organizes various programs, workshops, internships and events aimed toward giving entrepreneurial students the curriculum, resources and skills that will benefit them in the future. However, the main goal of the center is to get students involved.

“The biggest thing we’re trying to do is get kids from all over the campus to come together,” Schroeder said. “No one student from any one college can build anything.”

The Lavin VentureStart Competition was created for students to let their business ideas be heard and to give them an opportunity to make those dreams a reality. The workshops provide students with extensive knowledge about the business industry that will benefit them within the competition and in the future. More importantly, the competition gives students a chance to seek opportunities.

“We want to teach them how to look at the world and see it versus just walking through it,” Schroeder said.

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