The first 2018 Empower Your Dreams workshop was held Wednesday, Feb. 21 to kick off this year’s competition.
Jason Earl, director of the Willes Center for International Entrepreneurship, said, “I think this is the future of our graduates building the kingdom.” He also said he believes that the confidence you gain when you create something of value and get it out there will set you for the rest of your life.
Empower Your Dreams is a school and community-wide competition open to anyone willing to submit an original business plan. There are three student categories with first place prizes of $5,000, second place prizes of $3,000, and third place prizes of $1,000. The community category first place prize is $1,500, second place $1,000, and third place $500.
Sam Mangakahia, a sophomore from Australia majoring in graphic design, said participating in the school’s business competitions “pushes you into creating your idea to a more refined level.” Of his personal experience, Mangakahia commented, “I enjoy business and the thrill of selling a product that you designed and you put your heart and soul into. For them to react and enjoy it as well, it’s enthralling.”
In an interview, Earl said entrepreneurs are able to find three things by starting their own business: “What they are passionate about, what are they good at, and what drives their economic engine.” He added, “If you can pull those three things together, then you’ve got a real business plan.
“We want students from all across campus from all types of majors. All you have to do is come to us with an idea, and we’ll help you try to put together a business plan that makes sense.”
PJ Rogers, assistant professor of supply chain and operations, repeated, “Get involved. Get involved. Let me say that again. Get involved.”
“Most students have a great idea but they don’t know how to monetize it,” he said. “We teach in a way that is step by step by step, so someone who [has not] taken business classes can still say, ‘Oh I can do this!’”
Eaton said, “I’m grateful for the Willes center and all these awesome teachers that do so much for us and these amazing opportunities we have here.” He also mentioned that he wasn’t aware of the opportunities before this semester.
Concerning the competition in itself, Rogers stated, “I think if you’re a student at BYU-Hawaii and you don’t enter these competitions, you’re crazy!”
He said many people believe they don’t need to learn about business or take entrepreneurship if they don’t plan on being involved in business. However, he said, “Everyone’s going to run a business. It’s called Home Incorporated. So if you don’t understand the basic concepts of business, how are you going to make that possible?”
The Empower Your Dreams workshops will continue every Wednesday for the next three weeks - Feb. 28, Mar. 7, and Mar. 14. Business plan submissions are due Mar. 16 by 5 p.m. For more information, visit https://willescenter.byuh.edu/empower-your-dreams.