This year’s Great Ideas Competition will differ from previous competitions with a video presentation being optional and more focus on developing the community category. Over 150 people attended the competition kick-off in the HGB on Oct. 11 to learn about the changes.
The workshop began with the overview of the Willes Center for International Entrepreneurship by Jason Scott Earl, academic director of the center. He said it is a place on campus made to help students find something they’re good at, do what they’re passionate about, and find ways to create a new venture.
Paul Wilson, assistant professor at the Willes Center and former video marketer, said a video is optional this time. He explained, “We opted to make the video optional so students won’t be intimidated to join the competition. In the past, it has generally been the presentation of their idea followed by the video. We will put less emphasis on video to give students the chance to better present their ideas through slideshow and video.
“Even if they don’t do a video, they can still present... this is more than just a talk or Sunday school lesson – [it’s] a more in-depth presentation to be able to highlight the other fields.”
Although the video is optional, Wilson encourages whoever makes it to the finals to have a video. He explained, “It will be an advantage because it is harder to do, which means lesser people will do it. It means you will have a greater chance to protect the presentation before anyone sees it. But if you don’t want to make a video, put and show everything in your slideshow.”
Rick Suaava, a graduate Willes Center TA from Samoa, said they’re focusing to develop the quality of the community category. “The community category was a little unprepared and there was no presentation skills because they didn’t know. We’re trying to get the community to come in so we can help them better their idea on the presentation. We try to invite them to come and learn more skills.”
Wilson said there are a lot of resources for students like the workshops and service missionaries to help them grow from good to great. “They may have a great idea, but going to the workshops and seeing the faculty and missionaries of the Willes Center can take it even further. We’re emphasizing: ‘What makes your idea great?’ There are a lot of great ideas, but we’re really pushing students to create great ideas.”
Another change Suaava mentioned is how many people are entering. “I was shocked when I saw the attendance in the kick off. When I was here as a student, it wasn’t that many. We only had 30-40 students who attended last year when I graduated.”
Earl talked about the idea of a former TESOL student, Sze Wan Feigleson, who is the founder of Accent Champion, a business that provides specialized accent reduction coaching to native Chinese speakers and empowering them with a proficient command of English pronunciation.
Earl said, “She identified the problem through an opportunity. And an amazing thing she showed was the before and after of a guy she trained. The video was helpful even though it was not flashy; it just highlights the service.”
Earl enumerated on five specific aspects that can help students in the competition:
1.Identify a problem
Earl said, “The best ideas are not vitamins, they’re painkillers. Find something that has a huge burning problem and bring in a solution. That’s the starting point of a great idea.”
2. Identify the market size
According to Earl, there’s a way to identify who the real buyer and customer is. “If there’s no market and no growth, it’s just probably a good idea that no one cares about.”
3. You need to describe the business
“You need to identify what the service is. It’s amazing how other people can talk for 20 minutes and not say anything about the business,” Earl explained.
4. You need to describe how services are sold
Earl said the service must be identified whether it’s direct sales, through Amazon, or door to door. “You should be very explicit about it.”
5. The management team
“Tell us you have a mentor, you’re working with someone at BYU-Hawaii, and you’re with a group of people who is as compassionate as you are,” Earl explained.
David Stratton Waite, Willes Center projects advisor and assistant professor, instructed everyone to stand up in the middle of the workshop. He said, “Meet two people you don’t know and tell them your biggest question about Great Ideas.
“Look around. There’s a possibility that you don’t have an idea, but the person next to you does. You can still make a good team. You’ll remember this experience more than any of your classes. Keep coming to us, ask, but still lean on to one another. ”
In regards to advice for participants, Wilson shared some tips on what it takes to win. “When I was a student like you, I entered the Provo competition. It changed my life and it set me on the track of entrepreneurship. I’m a huge advocate for this because it helps people understand what they need to do to be successful.”
Another tip Wilson mentioned is to “make sense beyond you.” He explained, “You may understand your idea, but you may not be able to present it. Go outside of your own group and
connect with people who will say you’re doing great when you really are.”
Markee Camiso, an international cultural studies sophomore from the Philippines, said the workshop inspires students to try any idea, big or small. “You’re here not just because you want to enter the contest, but also to enhance your skills and abilities. Even though you don’t win now, at least you can use your skills and ideas in the future,” he added.
According to Wilson, Great Ideas is not a competition exclusively for business majors. He said, “We’ve had winners from every type of field. If you feel like you have a great idea and you can do well in your field, we invite you to join. Because of the diversity of our school, we have a better chance of generating ideas that we won’t find anywhere else.”
Siuola Feinga, a business management senior from Tonga, said she likes the willingness of the Willes Center to give out money for students’ great ideas because it motivates students to become great business people.
Feinga said, “I never thought I would be interested to come up with ideas. This workshop made me want to come up with something.”
The deadline for the Great Ideas competition is Nov. 3 before 5 p.m.