by Jasmyne Moody
The latest uVenture Challenge, entitled uVenture Social Challenge, has kicked off with nearly 100 students registered to participate in the month-long business model design competition. The Entrepreneurship ↦ Innovation Institute at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business and the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies have teamed up with the non-profit organization Star-C. This competition provides students with the opportunity to develop a professional business model for a real organization, with a chance for sponsorship and launch of their developed business concept.
The challenge opened with an introduction from Star-C’s representatives, including founder Marjy Stagmeier, along with the competition’s mentors and judges. Over pizza, Star-C explained the challenge to participating students. The organization, made up of real estate owners and investors, builds apartment complexes for low-income families. The complexes also provide after-school education, healthcare services, affordable rent and more. These communities aim to improve the lives of their residents and increase success in local schools, while providing a stable and healthy home life.
The goal for competition participants is to construct a business model for Star-C’s next apartment complex, which will then be presented to investors. This will involve increasing the complex’s capital return as well as its social benefits.
Participants took a group field trip to the initial complex, Willow Branch Apartments, to interact with residents and property managers. This gave students the chance to see what needed to be addressed in the next complex, and to learn about their target demographics. Students enjoyed a panel discussion with Willow Branch’s property managers and directors Ana Choban of the wellness program and Allie Reeser of the after school care program. A Q&A session was followed with an ideation circle for the newly formed teams.
The next part of this uVenture Social Challenge will be entitled the “uVenture Accelerator.” This meeting will facilitate team-building exercises, including motivation and guidance. Mentors in attendance will include Isabelle Monlouis and Michael Jordan, professors of entrepreneurship at Georgia State, among others. The Accelerator will also utilize flash workshops for business modeling and social innovation to assist students with ideation.
In the coming weeks, participants will continue to engage in Catalyst workshops to prepare to effectively deliver their pitch approach. Teams will be able to meet with mentors, entrepreneurs-in-residence, and faculty to promote team effectiveness and learn competitive pitching techniques as well as business model thinking.
The goal for these workshops is to give students with limited or no business model building experience the same chance to win as students who have real-life experience. Through intense coaching and simulation, the effectiveness of the teams will be maximized.
At the end of the competition, teams will pitch their business models for 15 minutes to judges, followed by a Q&A by judges and input from audience members. Star-C will use these pitches to decide if one could be chosen for sponsorship and launch. This will provide the chosen team with an internship opportunity and a rich co-curricular experience applying the knowledge they gained throughout duration of the competition. The winning students might also be able to see their ideas come to fruition from beginning to end.