Ron Fowler, St. Thomas student Jules Porter and Laura Dunham, chair of the Entrepreneurship Department

Fowler Business Concept Challenge Deadline Oct. 22

The clock is ticking for anyone interested in entering this year’s Fowler Business Concept Challenge. With an Oct. 22 deadline, the Fowler is open to all St. Thomas students regardless of their major. The competition is a chance to unleash your inner problem-solver and win your share of more than $40,000 in scholarships.

Students can compete in two tracks – business concept or social venture. To submit your idea, you don’t need a full business plan, but you will need to provide a description of your idea.

The Fowler Frenzie will be held at the Anderson Student Center's create [space] at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, October 18. During the Frenzie, faculty and mentors will be on hand to provide help for students looking to improve their concepts before the Oct. 22 submission deadline . Food and drinks will be provided.

For Jules Porter J.D./MBA ’18, entering the Fowler was life changing. Last year, she proposed an idea for an African-American owned and directed video game company and ended up winning the social venture category and a $16,000 scholarship.

“When we have people of color in games they are only 3 percent of the total number of heroes in the 50 years of the video game industry,” she said. “If you want to go slay the dragon or save a village, you can’t really do that as a black character.”

With a goal of making “fun, empowering and impactful” video games, Porter asked everyone she knew – professors, students, people in the business community – to listen to her Fowler pitch in preparation for the competition.

“What I learned about St. Thomas faculty is they are so nice, but they will be brutally honest with you, which was exactly what I needed, since it was my first time trying to pitch anything,” Porter said.

Porter, who is currently working on developing her video game company, says people who are passionate and have an idea should enter the Fowler because it could you lead you down an unexpected path.

“A year ago, I had no idea I would want to start my own video game company,” she said. “But here I am. It feels so surreal and so amazing.”

Mechanical engineering major Jalen Betsinger entered the Fowler last year after becoming frustrated with the homework service he was using. His idea for a peer tutoring company earned him second place in the business concept division along with a $7,500 scholarship.

“I’ve always had a lot of ideas and the Fowler interested me,” said Betsinger, a senior. “Two days before the deadline, I thought, let’s just do it and see how it turns out.”

The best part about participating in the Fowler, he said, was having a chance to embrace his entrepreneurial spirit.

“Ever since last year’s Fowler I’ve had more ideas,” Betsinger said. “I’ve looked into a couple start-ups and other products. I have a good one I’ll be submitting for the Fowler this year – I’m doing it again.”

You can see businesses started by past Fowler winners – including Protégé Biomedical – here.

Fowler semifinalists will be announced on Monday, Oct. 29. On Friday, Nov. 16, semifinalists will pitch their ideas to a panel of local entrepreneurs and business people. Winners will be awarded their share of more than $40,000 in scholarships.

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.