The Start of Something Great

I recently had the opportunity to serve as a judge for some new business start-up ideas, developed by students in the Entrepreneur program at Miami (of Ohio) University. It was very enlightening and great fun, although the students would perhaps disagree with the fun part! There were a range of concepts, some technology-based, some more social or public serving, and some based on something as common as fencing (with a twist of course). The best ideas are moving on to compete with other ideas from other local universities.

Here is what I observed. There are some very bright and extremely hard-working students involved in this. They have devoted a lot of time and effort to their ideas. They did extensive research to build their cases, and put together helpful boards of advisors, from people inside and outside of the university. And they came very prepared for their presentations, armed with detailed business plans, and dressed like seasoned professionals.

And keep in mind, this work was for just one of many classes they take, along with the number of other activities they are involved in at this stage of their lives. One more tidbit – many of them are majoring in something other than business.

From what I have seen in working with many big corporations, these kids were more prepared than many managers twice their age, who have also been in the workforce for a couple of decades. So when I now hear people in the workplace lament about the work ethic of today’s “young people,” I will have to beg to differ. Of course they had some gaps, just as there are gaps made in proposals presented like these to corporate boards or venture capital companies. They will have to work still harder to overcome them. But these students created some terrific possibilities, and some of the teams will actually turn their ideas into a tangible business or society-enhancing improvement.

So if you are running low on some fresh ideas… maybe you should hook up with a local university. Like at Miami, you will know doubt find a great deal of creative, passionate and talented you adults, just waiting to be unleashed.

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