LOOKING FOR ‘BIG IDEAS’: West Chester University’s annual Business Idea Competition is looking for participants for the 9th year of the event | business

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WEST CHESTER – The Entrepreneurial Leadership Center at West Chester University is again looking for “big ideas” for the Business Idea Competition 2021.

Developing an idea into a fully-fledged company takes time, preparation and resources. For the past nine years, West Chester University has held its Business Idea Competition to give entrepreneurs the opportunity to share their ideas.

The WCU Business Idea Competition is organized by Dr. Edwin Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center, the Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic and the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce sponsored and encourages creativity and brainstorming by recognizing innovative ideas for new products, services and technologies.

“This contest is a way to get an idea to market to see if it catches on,” said Patricia Diggin, director of the Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center. She added that entrepreneurs need to think about how long it takes to go from idea to reality – “not to dampen anyone’s dreams but to understand that this is a process”.

The competition is a “first step”.

This year’s competition includes $ 11,500 in prize money – and, according to Diggin, an opportunity for entrants to hear their ideas from business people and potential investors.

Entrepreneurs will compete in four areas:

  • Chester County High School students
  • West Chester University students
  • West Chester University students, alumni, faculty and staff
  • Startups based in Chester County

The process begins with participants from each category submitting an online application. This year’s deadline has been extended by a week, according to Diggin. Applications are now due by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, February 28th

She said the virtual platform the competition is now using allows for some flexibility, adding that the organizers want to encourage as many participants as possible. Information and application documents can be found at www.wcubizideas.com

In the application, each individual or team applicant is asked to explain the product, service, or technology that can serve as the basis for a new business – with an emphasis on description, uniqueness, and target market. Each applicant answers five questions, which should be answered with a maximum of 500 characters.

The applications are then reviewed by business angels, entrepreneurs and business consultants. The four best ideas on each route will take part in a “Fast Pitch” competition on March 25th. Each team or each participant has two minutes to present their idea to a jury.

The results of the “Fast Pitch” round will be combined with the results of the first round of evaluation to determine which people or teams will participate in the Business Idea Pitch on each route on April 14th.

The two best participants from each route reach the final round, where they present their ideas to a jury and the public. In this final round, the competitors focus on a description of their idea, the uniqueness of the idea and the market for the product, service, or technology.

The final round is open to the public, but registration is required. To register, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/9th-annual-business-idea-pitch-tickets-142026413827

Diggin said it is crucial for entrepreneurs to be able to talk about their ideas – from all angles.

“Everyone sees ‘Shark Tank’ and thinks it’s not that hard – but it’s hard. Those things about valuation, source of income, and exit strategy are all things business owners need to think about, ”she said.

The pandemic had an impact on last year’s Business Idea Competition, said Diggin and was noticed immediately after the first applications were due. The competition was held virtually and presentations were recorded. Diggin said the final was postponed to September – organizers hoped the situation would improve and a personal competition final could take place.

For this year’s event, Diggin said they made a decision at the beginning of the planning to hold the event virtually and keep the competition back on schedule.

She acknowledged the pandemic is affecting submissions for this year’s contest and expects the final numbers to be below previous years.

Diggin said that while the virtual space has both positives and negatives – one of the negatives associated with this competition is “burnout” – especially for high school and college students.

“They do most of their work virtually,” she said, adding that it is difficult for them to take that extra step and take on another activity.

Still, she said that applications are being received.

“It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality,” she said.

Next year, Diggin said they want to add a new contest –

specially dedicated to social entrepreneurship. Ideas have a social application.

“The past year focused on this. We have seen a need for this over the past few years and seen an acceleration due to COVID, “she said.

According to the rules, ideas that have not yet been commercialized and can serve as the basis for a new business are eligible for competition. Participants can participate individually or as a team with up to four members and participants can submit multiple ideas.

For information on West Chester University’s ninth annual business ideas competition or to register, please visit http://www.wcubizideas.com/. Email questions to the Cottrell Center team at cottrellcenter@wcupa.edu

The Dr. Edwin Cottrell Entrepreneurship Center promotes entrepreneurship at West Chester University and across Chester County by preparing students to contribute to the entrepreneurship ecosystem, provide access to resources, and fuel the creation and growth of new businesses.

An Angel Venture Fair Workshop will take place on Thursday, February 25th from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Participants learn how to prepare a company for investment and how to create the perfect pitch. You’ll also learn how to prepare for the annual Angel Venture Fair, slated for June 2021, which will bring together the largest gathering of angel investors and entrepreneurs in the Mid-Atlantic. Participation in the virtual meeting is free. To register, visit https://angelventurefair.ticketleap.com/angel-venture-fair-workshop/




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