As the Willes Center for International Entrepreneurship prepares for the sixth annual Great Ideas Competition, students and professors alike agree it is an important event for the entrepreneurial spirit of BYU–Hawaii.
Director of the Willes Center Jason Earl said the Great Ideas Competition is divided into four segments: Pre-Revenue, Revenue, Social Impact, and Young Entrepreneurs. Earl said, “[The competition is] a great event to involve students from all across campus.” He said this is because most entrants are typically not business majors, so it leads to a variety of students.
Tyler Lutz, a junior from Ohio majoring in supply chain management, said he believes the Great Ideas Competition is important because it “provides the environment and opportunity for students to learn to be effective businessmen and women.”
Lutz said the competition teaches students how to become problem solvers. He said, “They learn dynamic skills that they will be able to apply in their jobs and in their future careers.”
Earl said the goal of the competition is three-fold, “We want students to learn how to learn, how to make money, and how to live a life of meaning.” He said he believes if they can teach entrants these three things through the competition, then they will have an advantage against others in their careers.
PJ Rogers, an assistant business professor, said the Great Ideas Competition is a catalyst that has helped propel students from various disciplines and majors towards their careers. He said the competition is great because it gives students the opportunity and experience to be able to combine their own skills with business principles.
Rogers said this combination of skills has led to many students finding their entrepreneurial careers. Rogers mentioned three former competitors who found success through the Great Ideas Competition.
The founder of WELL Africa is BYUH alumnus Sery Kone. The aim of the organization is to liberate child workers in the Ivory Coast and provide them with education. Kone established WELL Africa after winning the Great Ideas Competition.
Another BYUH Alumnus, Tyler Johnson, created Ty’s Beach Bus after winning the Great Ideas Competition. Ty’s Beach Bus sells fresh churros, mixed island sodas and their signature product, waffles on a stick.
Elvin Laceda, a senior from the Philippines majoring in political science, is also the founder or RiceUp. RiceUp, which has been presented by the school’s Enactus teams over the past 2 years, educates and empowers farmers in the Philippines. RiceUp was another successful company that started as a result of winning the Great Ideas Competition.
Earl said the most important aspect of the competition for entrants to focus on is their vision for their companies. He said if entrants can show why they are the right person, how their idea will help people, or change the world, the judges will pick up on it.
He compared the Great Ideas Competition to a surf competition, “At a surf competition, you don’t really care about the surfboard, you are about the surfer themselves.” He said, “Even more important than the idea is the entrepreneur that they are investing in.”