Gustie entrepreneurs will be busy this weekend at the 2018 Gustie Entrepreneur Cup taking place at 2pm on Saturday, May 12.
Gustie Entrepreneurship cup is “an opportunity for our students to experiment with entrepreneurship by attempting to solve a market or a social problem,” Professor in Entrepreneurship and Assistant Professor in Economics Marta Podemska-Mikluch said.
Podemska-Mikluch is director of the cup and has been involved in its development since it was founded in 2015 as well as Russ Michaletz, who is a visiting Assistant Professor of Economics and Management, and has been involved with the cup since it was founded in 2015.
“Due to the enthusiastic response from the students, and with the support of my colleagues and our wonderful alumni, we were able to turn [a] pilot into an annual event,” Podemska-Mikluch said.
“We have a great internal team, but would be nowhere without the significant help from Gustavus alumni, parents, and friends,” Michaletz said.
The process for the prize begins with an application before finalists are chosen to present a practice pitch to the Gustie Entrepreneur Cup Leadership Committee.
Finalists from that round move on to a presentation this Saturday in front of a panel of judges.
There is over $10,000 in prizes available to participants, and the first-place winner will move on to the semi-finals of the Minnesota Cup, a startup competition to connect Minnesota’s entrepreneurial systemat the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
The aim of the cup is to create jobs and to grow and support the state’s entrepreneurs by providing resources and tools to develop their goals.
“The program encourages students to take a risk and pursue a passion or idea sooner than they otherwise would. The program offers great resources that make it easier to become an entrepreneur,” Podemska-Mikluch said.
“The winning product or service will satisfy a need that has market beyond the reaches of the Gustavus campus. The story should match that solution to a defined market that makes financial success possible,” Michaletz said.
Senior participant Allison Anderson said that her idea of a pop up fitness truck called LITT Fit satisfies the need for “fitness clubs that are geared towards millennials and offer social and personalized workouts.”
“LITT FIT strives to tear down every limitation to having fun while working out by incorporating a mobile truck, arcade lights, loud music, instructors that bring the intensity, and cutting-edge classes that are trending in the market,” Anderson said.
The judges four criteria include innovation, scalability, financial feasibility, and progress.
They also look for the “Gustavus factor,” meaning that the judges look for an embodiment of Gustavus’ mission and values, according to Podemska-Mikluch.
“We work together to challenge the participants to not only think outside the box, but, as author Tom Freidman suggests is necessary for future success, think without any boxes at all!” Michaletz said.
Many students involved in this year’s cup are diverse and come from all majors, such as biology, dance, physics, and nursing.
Regardless of major, all are equally excited to work together to share their ideas with the community.
“Ever since I heard about the Gustie Cup I wanted to participate,” Anderson said.
“I have a huge interest in Entrepreneurship and liked the idea of creating a business plan for the cup. I thought it would be fun as well as a good learning opportunity.”
Michaletz said he had no previous entrepreneurship experience, but through the cup, he is proof that “entrepreneurism, creative thinking, and innovation can arise in any of us, especially in the liberal arts setting created by Gustavus,” he said.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve my college in such a rewarding and enjoyable enterprise as the Gustavus Entrepreneur Cup.”
The program also provides many useful resources for those involved, such as one-on-one coaching on campus, connection to alumni experts and coaches, and a Seed Money grant that helps with startup expenses, according to Podemska-Mikluch.
“I would love to invite all students to attend the cup this Saturday. It’s truly just a lot of fun. It’s like a Shark Tank but with your friends and classmates as competitors,” Podemska-Mikluch said.
Students have the opportunity to win $300 for correctly predicting the winners, and there will be a photo booth and refreshments.
The event is free and open to the public.