$50,000 in prize money is a student’s to win

Along with the hiring of Executive Director Patrick Bultema, this year, The Big Idea has expanded its horizons in order to spark and develop student interests in entrepreneurship and business innovation.

Bultema is a serial entrepreneur who has served as a founder, inventor, executive, investor, board member, and advisor to over 50 startups. In adopting the title of Executive Director, Bultema has continued to develop The Big Idea’s Pitch Competition and the Innovative Speaker Series.

The Pitch Competition is a campus-wide competition open to groups of students who have an innovative business idea for which they need funding. The top team or teams selected by a panel of judges comprised of CC alumni and other startup venture capitalists and philanthropists can win up to $50,000 in seed money.

“Through the competition, we want to get students exposed to and involved with start-ups,” said Bultema. “We are trying to create bridges for students to take the learnings here and apply that to a career afterwards.”

Last year was the first year The Big Idea hosted The Pitch Competition, and the response was very positive.

“Tons of teams submitted last year,” Bultema, said. “The important thing then was finding if there was an appetite; clearly there was.”

As an effort to improve the quality of applications, Bultema is offering a start-up boot camp during Half Block that will focus on the key deliverables teams should include in their presentation pack for the competition.

“The boot camp is everything students will need to be successful in the competition,” said Bultema. “It will definitely make every step of the process much easier. By the way, it’s almost full.”

Registration, which includes a one-page summary of the idea and a list of team members, is due on Jan. 31, while the first draft of teams’ presentation packs are due Feb. 28. From these drafts, a pool of finalists will be selected to continue in the competition.

On March 24, final presentation packs will be presented to the judges to thoroughly examine before the finalists present their start up idea on April 1.

“Even if teams don’t win, there will be plenty of investors from all sectors looking for ideas they can put money into,” said Bultema.

In addition to The Pitch Competition, Bultema has organized a series of accomplished entrepreneurs and start up business people to speak for the CC and surrounding community.

“This series is designed to primarily allow for students and the CC community to hear and interact with some innovate inventors,” Bultema said. “It also though is a chance to reach out beyond the CC community and engage a broader spectrum of people, like lawyers and accountants, that could also contribute innovate ideas.”

Four time Emmy-winner Noel Maxam presented the most recent of these speeches on Tuesday.

Maxam has been involved with the production 3,500 hours of television for major networks like CBS, NBC, ABC, and Disney. His most recent quest is to influence the shift in television production from large corporations to what he calls “prosumers.”

“A prosumer is someone who uses accessible technology like a GoPro to reduce total cost output in production,” said Maxam. “The prosumer is not sacrificing much versus the big corporations that are losing a lot of money with cost inefficient techniques.”

With the rise of the prosumer in modern television, which is reaching well beyond the dying spectrum of cable access, people, in particular graduating college students, can find creative routes by which they can enter such a competitive business.

Maxam’s philosophy expands beyond the film industry. In his lecture, he emphasized the importance of asking yourself what opportunities are in a field for innovator, how can you be that innovator, and most importantly, are you willing to do what you have to do to be at the same level as the established people in that field.

“Look for the way you can make it simpler. If you can create a better mousetrap, that’s always the better business,” said Maxam. “The way you discover it is by immersing yourself in the business and finding ways to make it better.”

As a means of building on the foundation of last year, Bultema has worked towards getting more mentors and advisors similar Maxam to work with teams. In fact, Maxam also has had experience with and admires the work of such competitions.

“I’m involved with several start-ups that pitch, and it’s a great undertaking,” Maxam, said. “Creating companies and finding disruption is the only way for you to continue going forward in a career.”

Elizabeth Forster

Staff Writer

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