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If the shark is in, students will score

 ORU students are in the midst of potential business owners, thanks to the newly launched Stovall Center for Entrepreneurship’s Launch Competition that equips aspiring entrepreneurs. The competition, sponsored by Jim Stovall, an ORU alumni and whom the Stovall Center for Entrepreneurship is named after, the ORU College of Business and SCORE, welcomed all ORU students to enter and compete in a two-semester long competition worth $5000. 

Teams of two to five members are paired with a mentor who coaches them throughout the fall semester and the beginning of the spring semester, presenting pitches during this time and receiving feedback for improvement. While competing, the teams must develop strategies for their potential start-up businesses to pitch to real investors. 

“We want to create a vibrant entrepreneurial community at ORU where students can connect, dream together and learn from one another,” said Dr. Kevin Schneider, the executive director of the Stovall Center for Entrepreneurship. “We envision a community where students from every major can connect around ideas and begin taking steps to make their dreams a reality. This will be a place where students can activate their purpose, create profit and impact the world.”

A similar program was done twice in the past with the help of Dr. Julie Huntley, dean of the college of business. The Launch Competition is built on this success and is now designed to reach beyond academics and give real-world experience. The competition offers about 20 workshops that discuss topics relating to marketing, start-ups, taxes and other business concerns as well as meetups with Jim Stovall. The meetups are opportunities for students, whether participating or not, to receive wisdom from Stovall and for a chance to network with others attending.   

Partners of Launch Competition include Jim Stovall and SCORE, a community of entrepreneurs and executives. These influential partners will meet with the teams for mentoring and workshops.

SCORE is able to provide mentorship throughout the life of a business when it invests in that specific business, providing a way for students to potentially receive guidance and consulting on a start-up business if their idea is chosen. 

The process of applying involved the submission of a video pitch and a mentor meeting before officially entering the competition. In just a few months, those video pitches will become full-on business plans. But before the final pitch to investors, the teams’ mentors must sign off to ensure they have committed and prepared for the real deal. 

“Like shark tank—we want to create a connection between students and investors,” Dr. Schneider said. “We are also working to develop a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem where students can develop relationships with investors to raise capital for launching new ventures.” 

The first meetup for the competition was held on Oct. 2 in the Fenimore Room where 43 students attended, which was part of the requirement for qualification into the competition. Some of the ideas in the room included mental health services through an app, Christian content development, a financial investment app, global platform to help athletes and a service to help international students with standardized tests. Students rated the event 99/100, according to Jessica Tenorio, ORU’s Director of Study Abroad. 

At the event, Jim Stovall shared his experience with entrepreneurship as well as an inspiring word to the students, setting an expectant tone for the coming competition. 

“The whole world is praying for a great idea, and they trip over one about three times a week,” Stovall said. “The only thing you have to do for a good idea is to go through your daily routine, wait for something bad to happen and say ‘How could I have avoided that?’ The answer to that question is a great idea. And the only thing you have to do to have a great business is go one step further and ask yourself, ‘How can I help other people avoid that?’”

Keep up with the competition on Instagram @stovallcenter.

Photo by Simona Gatto