Fall is an exciting time on campus. Students are settling into their new schedules, the trees are bursting with colorful leaves and fresh business ideas are in high demand. That’s right – it’s time to pitch that business idea you’ve been thinking about because entries are now being accepted for the Fowler Business Concept Challenge.
The Fowler is open to all St. Thomas students regardless of their field of study. You don’t need to have a comprehensive business plan all ready to go, but you will need a new business idea along with a description of your concept.
“Students today need to build and practice the skills of innovation, which are in such strong demand among employers,” said Laura Dunham, associate dean of the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship. “The Fowler is a fun and engaging way for students to build their abilities in that area while getting the opportunity to win major scholarship awards for their entrepreneurial thinking. Great entrepreneurial ideas are everywhere and we provide the workshops and mentors to help you develop your ideas, no matter how early-stage, into strong pitches.”
Students can compete in two tracks – business concept or social venture – with submissions due by end of day Oct. 28. And you don’t have to go it alone. Along with online resources, there are several Fowler-related events happening including workshops, one-on-one sessions and the Fowler Frenzie, to provide support for all students interested in entering so they can feel confident about going into the competition on an even playing field, said John McVea, an associate professor in entrepreneurship.
“Faculty and students will participate together to fine-tune their ideas and develop compelling ways to present their thoughts,” McVea said. “We want students from engineering, sociology, theology, business and any other disciplines to be able to communicate their ideas in the language of value creation for the common good.”
Eric Martin ‘19, who along with Jay Louricas ‘19 won the Social Venture Track last year, said the Fowler was a prime opportunity to showcase his capabilities outside of the classroom.
“The skills that are honed in preparation for the Fowler are perhaps some of the most valuable and marketable skills one can have,” Martin said. “The creative aspect combined with the objective and realistic outlook necessary to create a viable business plan are all necessities when it comes to today’s business climate. In addition, the networks which were accessed as a result helped provide me with opportunities to connect with business professionals in the community, ultimately helping me land a position as a developer for Ryan Companies.”
David Zimmermann, last year’s third runner-up in the Business Track, added, “I have learned that experience trumps everything, and if you're looking to forge a business idea the Fowler is the place to do it.”
Fowler semifinalists will be announced Wednesday, Nov. 6. On Friday, Nov. 22, semifinalists will pitch their ideas to a panel of local entrepreneurs and businesspeople with $62,000 in scholarships on the line.
Need some Fowler inspiration? Check out a decade of winning ideas here.
The Fowler Business Concept Challenge is named in recognition of Ron Fowler ’66, chairman and CEO of Liquid Investments, Inc., whose gift to the university has made this and future competitions possible.
You can find out more information about the competition including dates for Fowler-related events at the Fowler Business Concept Challenge website.