Home News First MWest business innovation competition kicks off

First MWest business innovation competition kicks off

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By Lauren Winther

The very first MWest Competition was further introduced Nov. 14 with a kickoff event held at Kendall College of Art and Design with a turnout of approximately 80 West Michigan college students.

Among the 80 students was Bo Anderson, 22, Grand Valley State University Graduate student who thought very highly of not only the kickoff event, but the competition as a whole.

“I competed in Grand Valley’s own business plan competition in the past, but this is a really cool chance to get students from other disciplines and other schools together to make something really cool happen,” Anderson said.

The event began at 6 p.m. with a brief PowerPoint about the MWest Competition presented by Jon Moroney, a Kendall College Industrial Design faculty member

The PowerPoint included an explanation of why the competition was started and the format and steps the students should take when developing their business ideas.

“This competition was created by seven colleges that traditionally held their own plan competition and decided that it was time to combined them all together and create one gigantic event,” said Moroney, 37. The hopes are that students will mix together from each school.”

The presentation also highlighted one of the partners in the competition, Start Garden, a program that helps fund and further ideas.

Students can take advantage of different workshops held by Start Garden in hopes to further develop and guide their business plan.

The Start Garden workshop schedule list can be found at http://mwestchallenge.com/

After the presentation, students were allowed to come forward to present a 90 second pitch idea to inspire other students or seek out other team remembers.

Students were also informed during this event that the creators of MWest were strongly considering having different categories for prizes.

“I think it’s a great idea to have different categories,” said Melissa Harper, a 21-year-old Aquinas College student. “It allows others a chance to win and really shows that the judges care about more than just a great business plan, they care about how innovative you are.”

Several students pitched their ideas to the audience.

The pitches included a new way of grocery shopping, a used clothing library and different food ideas.

After pitching, each person or team headed to the back of the room to wait and see if others would join them on their business journey, allowing them to network with one another.

The forum was set up in a relaxed and more organic style, which Moroney said was by design.

“We want them to take this seriously,” he said.“We want them to treat these business ventures as something they could legitimately pursue as a business start up. And we realize that in order to create that motivation, it’s got to come from their personal passion and we can’t structure that too much. People have to genuinely believe in what they’re trying to do and want to connect with people and move these ideas forward,” Moroney said.

“In order to do that, we’re just trying to create some basic guidelines to make sure that the resources, the talents, the frame works for thinking and applying their ideas to a structured business idea are there but the way they play within those boundaries is completely up to them.”

Those wishing to participate can still sign up online at http://mwestchallenge.com/ before Nov. 28.