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Student Finalists Chosen for 'Rise to the Challenge' Competition for Best Business Ideas

Eight Will Present Their Ideas in Live Setting on April 26; Winner Receives Cash Prize Plus Experience of 'Pitching' to Potential Funders, Customers

April 22, 2013
Contact: University Relations
Phone: 410.837.5739

Eight University of Baltimore students have been selected as finalists in the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation's inaugural "Rise to the Challenge" Idea Competition, an opportunity to introduce their dreams for a business—big or small, product or service oriented, totally original or based on existing work—to an audience. The finalists for this campus-wide initiative will present their ideas in a live setting on Friday, April 26 starting at 4 p.m. in the Wright Theater in the UB Student Center, 21 W. Mt. Royal Ave. The event is free and open to the public.

The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, part of the University of Baltimore's Merrick School of Business, designed the competition as a way to help students become comfortable with different ways to work on their business ideas. Instead of moving through a rigid, proven set of steps that take them from concept to financing to storefront or lab, the center is showing UB students of all kinds—not just business students, but upcoming writers, game designers, attorneys and so on—that entrepreneurship is deeply rooted in creativity, drive and work ethic.

"This could be a better way to serve a cup of coffee, or a plan to get to Mars in two years instead of 20," said Johnetta Hardy, executive director of the center. "We're letting students know that their creative impulses are where everything begins—everything in business, literally everything, starts with an idea. As an entrepreneur, you have to stay open to ideas, and be unafraid of sharing them. In that sense, there are no bad ideas, just some that are more effective and achievable than others. That's something that you have to learn and always carry with you. That's what 'Rise to the Challenge' means."

The "Rise to the Challenge" finalists and a brief description of their ideas are as follows:

  • Sade Chambers (UB School of Law student): A vehicle lighting system that indicates the rate of deceleration.
  • Jacob Goldberg (Merrick School of Business student): A grid system that will melt snow and ice from roadways.
  • Jane (Rong) Guan (School of Law): A theme-based café that provides an "aristocratic" experience for the customer.
  • Bryanna A. Jenkins (Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences student): A cosmetic company specializing in blendable foundations.
  • Emily Kaiser (Merrick School of Business): A non-profit for teaching children teamwork through the compassionate training of dogs.
  • Isaac Schleifer (Merrick School of Business): An online fundraising software program for non-profits.
  • Chris Wilson (Merrick School of Business): Custom furniture restoration and upholstery for the commercial, healthcare and residential markets.
  • Josh Ziggas (Merrick School of Business): A smartphone app that helps users find publically available restrooms, and allows them to rates these facilities.

Each competing finalist will have an opportunity to receive mentoring and coaching from Merrick's entrepreneurship experts, including members of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation board. At the April 26 competition itself, the finalists will be given five minutes to describe their idea to the competition's judges. The students are encouraged to use any method they believe will help get across their ideas, including slides, audience participation, and so on. They also must talk about the potential market viability of their ideas, and ways in which their product or service could stand out in the marketplace. The first-place winner will receive $1,000; second place $300; and third place $200.

Learn more about "Rise to the Challenge."

About the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation:

UB's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation connects emerging and established entrepreneurs to resources and opportunities that accelerate their path to sustainable revenue and growth to be the "go-to" resource for entrepreneurship and value creation—a place where students, faculty, alumni and the business community connect.
 
The University of Baltimore is a member of the University System of Maryland and comprises the School of Law, the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Public Affairs and the Merrick School of Business.