Story by Larissa Wurm
A campus organization is offering students the chance to win $500 dollars cash for merely proposing an idea.
Drake Enactus, formerly Drake Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), is holding a competition this month, titled Project Bulldog.
“It’s a ‘Shark Tank’-like event that all the schools on campus can get involved in,” said Maryna Rath, vice president of projects for Drake Enactus and junior public relations and marketing double major.
“Shark Tank” is a T.V. show on ABC.
In the show, entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a set of millionaires, billionaires and successful businessmen and women, otherwise known as “the sharks.”
Project Bulldog is similar, in that teams of two to four students will have 10 minutes to present their ideas to a panel of five judges from a range of industries in the area.
Registration, which ends Oct. 5, is simple.
All that is necessary is a team and an idea.
The requirements are that it must have a positive effect on the community, must be original, sustainable for future use, realistic, and able to funded under $1 million.
Ideas should also not rely completely on social media.
Ideally, the team’s ideas will be something the judges would want to invest in.
As for what kind of ideas they are looking for, Rath and senior marketing and management double major and Enactus President T.J. Mitchel say it’s very general and broad.
“It can be anything that will help the community,” Mitchel said.
“Since this is the first year that we’re doing it, we don’t really have a good grasp on the ideas people have,” Mitchel said. “We want to make more of an inclusive entrepreneurial community at Drake because we haven’t had one in the past. We thought that letting people pitch their ideas and get rewarded for it would actually be a really good idea to foster that kind of environment here.”
“Since we’re getting professionals from the Des Moines community in here, let them see how Drake students are thinking entrepreneurially and what they think is a need in the community,” Rath said.
There are four prizes for the competition.
First place receives $500, second receives $250, third receives $150, and there’s an additional $100 prize given to the audience choice.
Once a winner is chosen, it is up to them if they want to see that project enacted.
“Our hope is that they will stay in contact with the judges that were interested in their idea and try to get it started,” Mitchel said. “I think bringing together experienced people in the startup field with students will be the ultimate prize.”
Rath and Mitchel both said the grand prize isn’t really enough to start a business, but hope it will act as an incentive.
“We hope they would go out there and start a business from their idea,” Mitchel said. “This (project) is mostly just having people have their idea be known. It would really be cool if they actually pursued it after they won or an entrepreneur wanted to work on it with them.”
The idea for the “Shark Tank” inspired project came from a brainstorming session to get more students on campus involved.
“We thought of different entrepreneurial things that are cool, and originally thought of Shark Tank because a lot of people like to watch that show,” Mitchel said. “We were trying to think of something that a wide range of student would like, know about and understand. And off of that, make participation go up because they have something to base it off of.”
Drake Enactus is a student-led organization that goes out into the community and applies entrepreneurial concepts to helping different organizations, Mitchel said.
It is a chapter of a national non-profit organization.
The goal of Drake Enactus is to help people in the community and the world sustain their business project.
The name of the organization was changed last year in a “rebranding effort to include more students of all majors,” Mitchel said.
“So we’re not really a service organization or a professional organization, but more a combination of both,” Mitchel said.
Enactus has four different projects that they work on throughout the year, including helping start a non-profit coffee shop where employees will be disadvantaged youth, programming with the new “Sprout” community garden, a suicide prevention project new this year, helping fundraise for a project with the Uganda class, building a playground and a disability school.
Final presentations for Project Bulldog are Oct. 19 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Sussman Theater in Olmsted and are open to students and the public to come watch.