Great Ideas Competition opens doors for students and community

Written by: 
Mackenzie Beaver & Esther Insigne
The young founders of Albatross pose with their award money.


To be inclusive of all into entrepreneurship, the Great Ideas Competition allowed not only students and community members to compete, but they also added a Young Entrepreneurs category this year. Attendees and competitors agreed valuable lessons were learned, and opportunities opened from the competition.

The Willes Center for International Entrepreneurship held its annual Great Ideas Competition from Nov. 14- 15. Booths were displayed in the Heber J. Grant Building at BYU–Hawaii on Nov. 14, and the next day competitors presented to a panel of judges at the Hawaiian Journey Theater at the Polynesian Cultural Center. The rest of the public events were at the HGB and consisted of Willes Talks from the judges and awarding of the winners.

Finalist competitors’ booth presentations

Tyler Johnson, a senior from Arizona majoring in business, said, “Great Ideas is a fun business competition. This competition allows students to all come together as one and celebrate all of their ideas. The competition is also a great way for students to compete against each other.” Johnson continued to explain that ideas in this competition range from already existing businesses to the beginning stages of thinking.

Johnson currently owns Ty’s Beach Bus, a food truck in Kahuku, HI. The food bus serves flavored sodas and waffles on a stick.

While Johnson already has made his idea and dream a reality, freshman from Utah, Kaleah Liechty’s, idea has not been realized yet. Liechty said, “I entered into the Great Ideas competition because it was required for my entrepreneurship class, and out of over 200 entries, I got in. I just submitted my proposal and to my surprise, I was accepted.”

Liecthy had the MODWISH idea, a company which will build tiny houses and sell the houses on the ‘tiny house’ market. “I plan on selling the houses for $75k. It will only take us about $50k to build, and we will use the $25k profit to help rehabilitate homeless people.”

Liechty explained she came up with this idea because she loves tiny houses and knows she wants to help people out. “I feel that doing this would be a great way to give back.”

Also making it to the finals of the Great Ideas competition, Addison Hellum, a freshman computer science major from Hawaii Kai, brought his idea on finding internships to life. Hellum’s great idea, titled Verity, is an idea to help students find an internship easier.

Hellum said, “This summer I did an internship, so I know how hard they are to find. With this program, I want students to enter a database and then they can receive emails and notifications with internships interested in them or that pertain closely to their major or career goals.”

Hellum explained he know how hard it is to find an internship. He used his own personal experience with an internship as a way to help make it easier for future students interested in getting work experience.

Great Ideas judges impart life lessons to future entrepreneurs at Willes Talks

Old Spice commercials played on screen, Eminem driving a car around Detroit, failed businesses, the ‘Why Not Me?’ principle and continuous self-improvement were some topics the audience took notes of or nodded their heads to during the Willes Talks.

The five Great Ideas judges, Jason Bagley, Andrew and Rita Fowers, Donald Kelly, and Benoy Tamang encouraged the audience to accept mistakes and not let them weigh you down. They said everyone should be open to new ideas every day and understand that this was a part of the whole business journey.

The ‘why not me’ principle

Donald Kelly of The Sales Evangelist said an entrepreneur “started making real innovations when you start attacking problematic things – the things that society says, ‘Well, nobody will do that’ or ‘In some future day we’ll take care of that.’”

He remarked how there will be people who will one day set foot on Mars or find the cure of cancer and how those people could be you if you stop waiting for something to happen and act now. The why not me principle encouraged the audience to act upon their great ideas.

Life lessons

Andrew Foyers of The Shaka Guide summarized his talk into five life lessons:

Life Lesson #1: Choose wisely and marry a life partner
Life Lesson #2: Follow your passion but make sure you have a back-up plan
Life Lesson #3: Embrace your mistakes
Life Lesson #4: Continue to serve the Lord and pay your tithing.
Life Lesson #5: Listen to the promptings of the Spirit

Foyers shared how he and his wife, Rita, who was the CEO of The Shaka Guide, despite some failed businesses, stood right back up and continued to establish other business ventures until they became successful.

They had to make tough calls and had to embrace failure to get to where they are now. He said, “The ideas you have can succeed. It may not succeed the first time, but if you keep at it, then you can achieve real success as an entrepreneur or whatever career you choose.”

Through the eyes of a child

Jason Bagley of Wieden+Kennedy said future entrepreneurs should not think too much about what they’re going to make but instead, think about why they’re going to make it and why they’re going to be involved in a business.

With a piece of advice, “No matter what you do, don’t be too smart or too wise for your own good. You have to always look at things the way a child would look at them. You have to walk in stupid every day. Don’t ever be such an expert that you’re not open to new ways of looking at things and sometimes seemingly stupid ways of looking at things,” Bagley ended his talk.

Improving yourself

Benoy Tamang of BlueRiver Direct started his talk with a quote, “The future is solely created in the present. The future can’t be created in any other place but the present. What an individual creates now determines what the new now, or what we call the future, will be like.”

Tamang continued by saying we, as individuals, must continue to improve ourselves. “The biggest continuous improvement that you should make is change the core person of who you are, not just intellectual but the core being.

“Start today. Start immediately and continuously repenting and becoming a better person,” he urged to the audience.


The messages were received with great applause from the audience, which was followed by the awarding of winners by the Willes Center for the competition.

The winners for this year’s Great Ideas competition are listed below in their respective categories:

Young Entrepreneur:

1st – Albatross
2nd – North Shore Delivery
3rd – Surfboard Crib


1st – PCC Pig Farm
2nd – 3D Solutions
3rd – Reefsavers


1st – Pup Me Up
2nd – Verity
3rd – Rope Bridge


1st – Gilgerem
2nd – Bling It Candles
3rd – Ty’s Beach Bus

Teams who participated were inspired by traditions from their own home countries or problems they observed from their environments such as the workplace or their hometowns. Solutions such as more efficient waste disposals or directly connecting businesses to internship seekers were proposed.

One of the challenges Levi Johnson of Verity experienced during the competition was the target size they had for their idea. “We planned it to be smaller and… as we looked more at our feasibility, we realized we could be a whole lot bigger, so we had a lot of work to think about and to talk to each other which helped us be our idea that we are today.”

Erin Royal of Bling It Candles shared that her favorite part of the competition was when they got to talk to people about their idea in the booth presentation. They remarked that people were dropping by their booth, asking questions and were sharing the same excitement they had for Bling It Candles.

Daryl Royal, who is also running the business with his wife, Erin, shared, “It’s a close intimate way to get to know people and you get to really show your excitement... In the presentation that’s a little harder because you have such a tight time limit but, in the booth, you were able to really show what you love about what you do.”

Ganbat Ganbold and Mungunsukh Ganbaatar of PCC Pig Farms expressed that they would talk to the Polynesian Cultural Center and propose their idea. Ganbold and Ganbaatar who both worked at the warehouse noticed the food waste the restaurants of the PCC had during the end of their operations and how much money was spent on their disposal. Their goal was to make new job opportunities in the PCC available for students and to help them learn more about pig farms so that they can implement one in their own home countries in the future.

After hearing that they won, Ganbaatar felt happy because they didn’t expect they would win. He said, “Now, I feel like we could implement the idea.”

One of the judges, Donald Kelly, loved how the teams were helping the community through their business ideas. He said, “I think it’s important [because] we sometimes neglect and take advantage of the earth. We need to be good stewards… We need to take care of [the earth] because if we don’t, it’s not going to take care of us.”

Kelly said that he wanted participants and the audience to remember that there are many great ideas all of us could think of “but they do nothing until we act on those ideas and we are willing to act on those ideas.”


Date Published: 
Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Last Edited: 
Tuesday, November 20, 2018