Student entrepreneurs compete in Golden Idea Competition


Photo by Meghan Fuller.

Assistant professor of entrepreneurship Arielle Newman, Ph.D, said entrepreneurship means to create new value. She said that since it is such a part of our lives, Southern Miss wants to recognize and reward that entrepreneurial spirit in students. 

On Nov. 21, Southern Miss will have its first Golden Idea Competition, a “Shark Tank” like pitch competition where students will present their own products and services. 

Newman serves as the faculty advisor for the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization, one of the sponsors of Thursday’s event. Newman said the club serves as a way for students to explore entrepreneurship. Newman said the dean of the college of business and economic development asked the club to put on the Golden Idea Competition as part of International Entrepreneurship Week. 

Newman said she is confident in the ideas that will be presented Thursday, and she hopes the event inspires students to pursue their business dreams. 

“Warby Parker was started with two college students at Wharton University in a pitch competition just like this. They won $1,500. They are now worth billions. That’s how they got started, and that’s how companies can get started, right now, today, as college students,” Newman said. 

In addition to the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization, the college of business and economic development, the school of management, and the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education will sponsor the event. 

Thirty teams made of up to four students submitted proposals for their services or products. Newman said that in these proposals, students discussed their products, what problems these products would solve, potential revenue and their target market. Students submitted these applications to a group who decided which ten teams would advance to round two. The top ten were announced Friday. 

Jacob Smith, a senior entrepreneurship major, works for the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education. Smith has been busy working on outreach and awareness for the event, and he said he feels confident that Southern Miss’ first Golden Idea Competition will be a success. 

“I think the Golden Idea Competition not only allows students the chance to share their ideas and get feedback, but also demonstrates the unique opportunity that Southern Miss has to foster entrepreneurship on campus,” Smith said. 

Kaitlyn Myers, a senior business administration major, made her way to the second round as one of the top ten teams with Myers Tutoring and Counseling. Her product focused on providing services for children with learning disabilities. Myers said she is honored and excited to have been chosen to continue in the competition. 

The top ten teams will compete in the Golden Idea Competition on Thursday in front of a panel of judges. Newman said that the judges will consist of notable alumni and community members. Each team will have two minutes to give their pitch and three to five minutes for questions. Then, the judges will confer and decide the top three contestants. 

From there, live audience voting will decide which team wins first, second and third place. The first, second and third place winners will receive $1000, $500 and $250, respectively. 

Newman said entrepreneurship is becoming increasingly attractive to younger generations. She said that in our age of technology, it is easier than ever to reach customers and access capital on finances. She said students have the opportunity to succeed in the current business climate now. 

“We want students to start thinking of themselves as entrepreneurs, as new value creators, in this new economy that we’re creating,” Newman said. 

With the number of teams who submitted applications, Smith said he is hopeful that not only students, but also entrepreneurs in the community will show up to the event. Smith said the event is open to students of all majors, and he hopes they will come to support their fellow eagles. 

“It’s really important for people to come out and support the ideas of other people on campus because that’s how passion gets started,” Myers said. 

Myers and the other teams will spend the week preparing for the competition. Myers said she plans to spend the days before the competition practicing and perfecting her pitch, so that she presents clearly and confidently. 

“I just want to accomplish a sense of leadership and knowing that I can be confident in my dream,” Myers said. “I’m not looking to win. I mean it’d be awesome to win any placement really, but I’m just looking to see if other people are passionate about my idea.” 

The Golden Idea Competition will take place Nov. 21 at 5 p.m. in McDonnell Auditorium in Scianna Hall. The competing teams will be: Bus Stop, Ecogo, Fulfil, Grace’s Home of Heroes!, Myers Tutoring and Counseling, Legacy Fitness, Pro Waiter, Recycling Poles, Rose, and Sugar and Spice. All students are invited and encouraged to attend the event.