UM-Dearborn idea pitch contest focuses on real world solutions, not business plans

The University of Michigan-Dearborn College of Business has developed a way to encourage its students to think entrepreneurially. It's called the UM-Dearborn Business Idea Pitch, and it is accepting submissions until 11:59 pm on Sunday, March 11. An Ideation workshop on February 19 will help students learn to craft a pitch.

While the event is, on its surface, a business pitch contest, Director of iLabs at UM-Dearborn Timothy Davis stresses that it's much more. The Business Idea Pitch is a way to provoke students to understand real-world problems that people are having and figure out how to solve them.

Davis and his team aren't looking for a business plan for a pooper scooper with a wine bottle holder, he says, but instead solutions to issues like health and mobility. Organizers would like to see students focus on either of those two issues, but the contest is open to any idea.

Another thing that separates the Business Idea Pitch event from more traditional "Shark Tank"-like contests is that organizers aren't interested in specifics, and they aren't interested in things like budgets and business plans. All Davis and his team want to hear are students' ideas.

"In today's gig economy, a lot of students are going to have to think entrepreneurially, even if they end up working for someone else," says Davis. "So this is a place for them to go ahead and try. This is a safe space to give it a whirl."

"That's what schools are for: To provide a safe space for students to try and experiment and learn."

Organizers are currently accepting applications. A social media voting campaign will then be considered along with reviews from local entrepreneurs and academics in the choosing of ten to twelve finalists. At the event, which takes place on Wednesday, March 28, students will then present their ideas in five-minute lightning rounds. The winning student receives scholarship money.

Click HERE to learn more about the submission process.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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