Students get right to the point in ideas challenge

The Colorado Mesa University Entrepreneurial Business Institute hosted its eighth annual Entrepreneurship Day on Wednesday to promote education about running a business while providing networking opportunities for students. E-Day featured three students competing in the 2013 Idea Challenge,  with Craton Edwards taking first place.

Edwards, Dylana Gross and Tela Robinson each had 90 seconds to pitch a business idea to the audience for the chance to win money as well as an opportunity to attend a Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization conference in Chicago.

“It’s great that we had this opportunity to speak and meet with real professionals in the business world so they can have a look at our ideas,” Edwards said. “It feels great to be able to do this and have the chance to help my future.”

Edwards won $1,000 and the automatic spot at the CEO conference in Chicago. He said it takes a large amount of work to create these kinds of opportunities for the future.

With the career opportunities on the line and a room full of business professionals, including Pete Coors, vice chairman of Molson Coors Brewing Co. and chairman of MillerCoors, the pitch was nerve-wracking for the students.

“I think I was mostly nervous before my pitch even started, then, once I got up, the stage started shaking and I thought it was my knees wobbling,” said Robinson, who took third place and won $250. “We only had 90 seconds but once I started I felt fine.”

Coors was featured as the keynote speaker and said he relished the chance to speak to the students and give them valuable advice and life experiences.

“It is very humbling for me to meet these young people with great futures ahead of them, and to share some stories to give them some encouragement is important,” Coors said. “I was impressed with their poise and confidence in front of an audience like this and I enjoyed seeing students who are so far along.”

Other CMU students attended Coors’ speech and were delighted simply by his presence and words of advice.

“It means a lot that someone as big as Coors was here and that he doesn’t just pass over us,” business student Stephen Douma said. “It was really inspiring when he talked about entering entrepreneurship and going out and taking chances.”

Georgann Jouflas, business professor and Entrepreneurship Club advisor, said E-Day and the Idea Challenge are ways for students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset.

“We are trying to teach a different way of thinking to get the students learning about different fields, so when they do go out in the world they know what they are involved in,” Jouflas said. “It just opens up so many real-world opportunities.”

Edwards, Gross and Robinson have similar visions for their futures, with dreams of eventually owning their own businesses. Gross said she’s excited to get out in the real world to start working and keep creating new networks that will help her reach her business goals.

Robinson also mentioned branching out and wants to run her own bakery one day, while Edwards emphasized trying different things as long as he gets to be active.

“I definitely don’t want to just work in an office,” said Edwards. “I want to be an entrepreneur and explore different options which will eventually lead to me owning my own business.”


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