by Loe Cole | photos by Amy Morris
Students from ENI 3101 ended the semester on a high note, as they competed in teams against their peers at the biannual Business Model Competition on April 21. The event was supported by the Herman J. Russell, Sr. Center for Entrepreneurship and hosted by the course instructor, Dr. Isabelle Monlouis. ENI 3101: Entrepreneurial Thinking for Startups is focused on creating brilliant entrepreneurs by studying the philosophy, behaviors, concepts, methods, and techniques of innovative entrepreneurship today.
Shelby Bock, a ENI 3101 student said, “I learned a lot about the adaptability of startups. I didn’t realize all the stages startups go through.” Bock continued, “I didn’t realize the process was so immutable, whereas the startup can change to be something completely different but still start from the same idea, have the same team, or the same basic structure.”
The night began with a poster presentation, dinner, and networking, a casual start to an exciting competition. The pitch competition consisted of 6 amazing teams who pitched their businesses in front of three judges: Richard Welke, Monique Mills and Wallace Taylor. As each team held their ground under interrogation from the judges the audience watched anxiously.
UrPalette an online platform for visual artists seeking to make money from their art work, was up first. Salvage Me, took the battle field next making a strong case for do-it-yourselfers and contract workers through an app that provides support for home improvement projects.
Struggle Book shifted the focus to an issue many students face, food. Struggle Book is using technology to help students plan affordable meals because honestly “the struggle is real.”
Zaynah Mason, co-founder of Struggle Book, was quite nervous at the beginning of the competition, although her nerves went unnoticed as she presented with a charming smile and kept the audience engaged with a bit of laughter.
“Overall, it was pretty nerve-wracking, but rewarding and helpful. ENI 3101 has been one of my favorite classes at GSU,” said Mason.
Besides, struggling to find food students need help managing their money. That’s where Payback comes in, an app that is teaching financial discipline, helping students reach financial goals and connecting individuals who share financial objectives.
Whereas Fendo has put a millennial spin on Angie’s List. Instead of searching the web or Yelp for reviews, gather the services or products you use in Fendo. Fendo is an app where you share and view ratings with the people you trust, your friends.
However, taking home the cake of one-thousand-dollar grand prize, was Observe. A virtual platform aimed at eliminating the uncertainty high school students and college students face when deciding which college degree to pursue. A degree may seem interesting but course descriptions do not give students an inside look at the potential professions. Observe is job shadowing gone virtual.
Dr. Monlouis had much to be proud about that night as her budding students flourished at the Business Model Competition.
“Lawrence Chen (co-founder of Observe) along with his team mates, used the class to move Observe from a great technical solution to a problem he was passionate about into a compelling business model with a creative go-to market strategy.”
Struggle Book placed second winning five-hundred dollars and Fendo took third place winning three-hundred dollars.
Kia Walker, who graduated May 2016, attended the first Business Model Competition in the Fall and decided to come out for the Spring action.
“I was impressed by the last group who came in the fall but they stepped it up another notch in the spring competition. Lots of good projects, I can understand why the judges had some tough decisions to make,” Walker said. “I’m excited to see where these teams will be six months to a year from now.”
All the teams that participated demonstrated creativity by using entrepreneurship to formulate businesses that reflect their interest and passion. By allowing students to dive into the real-world experiences, ENI is shaping the next generation of innovative entrepreneurs.