Friday evening at the theater of the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, the face covers worn by the participants could not stifle the cheers of the winners of the 3rd annual challenge of Fowler business concept. After 16 semi-finalist teams spent the day pitching their innovative business concepts to juries from the San Diego business community, each presented their pitch to a live audience at the evening awards ceremony.
The audience heard a wide range of arguments, ranging from high-tech ideas like charging stations for electric cars, a social network for families and a virtual learning assistant, to products like a pillow system. which offers disabled or elderly people more mobility at home.
The EcoBreeze team walked away with the first prize of $ 15,000 in purses. Their idea of an environmentally friendly and inexpensive alternative to conventional air conditioning was not only a hit with the judges, but also with the public. The EcoBreeze team included Kylie Rios ’22 (Electrical Engineering), Mary Hinek ’22 (Marketing), Meghan Pipitone ’22 (Electrical Engineering) and Colton Landaiche ’22 (Integrated Engineering). Now armed with an award-winning product idea, the team plans to complete their first prototype by January and will use the spring semester to increase product efficiency and reduce production costs.
The full list of Friday’s Fowler Business Concept Challenge winners included:
- Grand Prize ($ 15,000 prize sponsored by Linda L. and Edward K. Rice 🙂 – EcoBreeze
- 1st finalist ($ 7,500) – Envi
- 2nd finalist ($ 5,000) – Pillow lift
- 3rd finalist ($ 3,500) – Junitie
- Audience Choice Award for Most Engaging Presenter sponsored by IPROTEAN ($ 1,000 each) – Blue Planet Optics and EcoBreeze
- In addition, the 12 additional semi-finalists received a scholarship of $ 1,000.
The Fowler Business Concept Challenge was established in 2019 and is fueled by the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Catalyst from the School of Business at the University of San Diego. “The Fowler Business Concept Challenge is all about resourcing, recognizing and rewarding USD students with entrepreneurial ambitions,” said Amit Kakkad, PhD, Faculty Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Programs at the USD School of Business . “This challenge gives USD students a helping hand on the opportunity to develop an entrepreneurial spirit and a platform to develop their business ideas with the guidance and coaching of experts from both the faculty and industry while competing for scholarships totaling $ 45,000.
Open to students from across the university, this year’s challenge included participants from six different USD schools. Over the past month, the students practiced and honed their pitching skills for the chance to participate in the event on November 5.
More than 50 local business leaders served as judges in the preparation of the event, representing an investment of hundreds of hours by the business community. Ron Fowler, vice president of the San Diego Padres and CEO of Liquid Investments, was in attendance all day as a judge and expressed his happiness at being able to meet again in person for the event after a virtual competition in 2020 due to of COVID-19.
Having initially supported the creation of a similar event at his alma mater, the University of St. Thomas, Fowler helped meet the challenge of SHU with a giveaway in 2019. As a judge he researches above all else passion, and he believes that every student who has the courage to take the stage will gain something from the experience.
“The most important things you learn are because you made mistakes and remember mistakes more than successes,” Fowler said. “It’s an opportunity to make mistakes in a safe environment and to give yourself confidence when you are finished with your education and are in the real world to do what you can do. For those who attended, the event represents a beginning of training experience in what has come to be known as the “Toreropreneur’s Journey” at SHU – a comprehensive suite of programs, resources and mentoring opportunities that together serve to transform students into confident entrepreneurs.
SHU President James T. Harris III best summed up the spirit of the participating students in his opening remarks at the event. Referring to the USD mascot and a famous quote from Teddy Roosevelt, Harris explained that the word ‘bullfighter’ has many connotations, but he takes it to represent courage, especially the courage it takes to step into it. ‘arena and dare a lot. “Students, you dare a lot. Thank you for having the courage to step in and be in the arena.
– Daniel Telles ’21 (MBA)