WashU Olin
Your business idea could earn $50K in Olin/P&Q-sponsored pitch competition

WashU Olin Business School was Poets & Quants’ choice for 2022’s #1 MBA program for entrepreneurship. So, it’s only natural that the business school trade publication would team with us for an innovative showcase of startup ideas. And the winner pockets $50,000 to launch their idea.

That’s one of the announcements that emerged from a P&Q entrepreneurship live stream event today. The event highlighted business school entrepreneurship programs and featured panels by school alumni and students—including a panel of WashU Olin startup founders who discussed their companies and what they gained through their MBA education.

Dean Mark P. Taylor delivered the opening keynote for the event, which was a follow-up to P&Q‘s 2022 ranking of the top MBA entrepreneurship programs—a ranking WashU Olin topped for the third consecutive year.

“We are gathered here today to celebrate a phenomenon that’s become a bedrock part of our lives,” Taylor told viewers of the online event. “Never has entrepreneurship so strongly influenced the ways we live and learn and work and play. Inspiration is all around us, just waiting for someone to seize it.”

Later, three Olin students and an Olin alumnus participated in panel discussions: Kai Skallerud, MBA ’23; Lloyd Yates, MBA ’22; Rhonda Smythe, MBA ’22; and Daniel Schindler, MBA ’19, founder of Buoy. Schindler spoke to the question of why he embarked on an MBA while trying to launch a business.

“One really big reason was the network that you get,” said Schindler, whose company is focused on producing and marketing products to boost all-day hydration among chronically under-hydrated consumers. “It’s also getting another two years to take the time and start the business in the right way. You can really hone in on the business and the strategy and get feedback from that network.”

Smythe spoke about the value in particular of Olin’s entrepreneurship program: “The entire department puts you in touch with experts in your field,” she said. “From Patagonia, Macy’s, and other big B2C companies, to listen and give advice is a great way to be able to get an inside look into the industry.”

See the video of Kai, Lloyd and Rhonda’s panel discussion below.

More about the pitch competition

WashU Olin’s BIG IdeaBounce, powered by Poet & Quants, is a pitch contest open to any business student—current or prospective, graduate or undergraduate—with a great idea and the drive to push it forward.

“We’re really excited about this event,” said Doug Villhard, Olin’s academic director for entrepreneurship, who participated in the competition announcement. “It really promotes the entrepreneurial spirit that is present here at Olin and permeates your programs. I can’t wait to see the entries come in. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

So, how does it work? You submit your original business idea that’s for-profit, nonprofit and/or with social/environmental/sustainable impact. Twenty finalists create a brief video that brings the idea to life. Then three finalists present their ideas at a live event on WashU’s campus in early March.

The competition was announced today at an event sponsored by P&Q to highlight entrepreneurship education at business schools in the wake of its 2022 ranking of MBA entrepreneurship programs.

How to enter

WashU Olin’s BIG IdeaBounce, powered by Poets&Quants, is a pitch contest open to all current undergraduate and graduate school students OR any prospect interest in a graduate business school degree. Here’s the link to the entry page. The contest is set up in three rounds:

  • Round 1: Submit your idea in the fields on the entry page (open through January 7)
  • Round 2: Selected teams will be asked to submit a two-minute pitch video
  • Round 3: The top three teams will present in front of judges on March 3

StartUp Live WashU student roundtable

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