College may seem miles away from the real world, but students can put their business skills to the test by competing in Opportunity Quest.
Students must submit an eight-page business plan by Nov. 29. Codirector Michael Atencio, a business and CIT major from Riverside, said the business plan should include more than a description of the business.
“They should talk about the marketing—how they’re going to sell [the idea]—and the intellectual property—how they’re going to protect it,” Atencio said.
He also said the competition is open to all majors across campus, not just business.
“We’ve been trying to encourage students who aren’t business majors,” he said. “The other departments have different ideas, too. If you have a psychology major who has a great idea for an iPhone app, they can partner with a computer science major.”
Business professor Kyle Wells said the competition jump-starts the entrepreneurial spirit in students, something they’ll need as they enter the workforce.
“[The competition] develops their skills,” he said. “Even if [students are] working for someone else, it helps to have that entrepreneurial spirit.”
Wells also said non-business major students should enter the competition as well, as they will likely end up in the business sector after graduation.
“I think there’s a misunderstanding that people are business majors or not business majors,” he said. “Unless they’re in academics or government, they’re dealing with private businesses.”
Atencio said the competition organizers have been preparing competitors by hosting workshops every other week that feature a guest speaker from the community, such as a local lawyer to speak about intellectual property.
Atencio also said students don’t need to worry about outside competition, which will give competitors a leg-up. Students from other schools are also competing against graduate students, something DSC students won’t need to worry about initially. However, the winner of the program, along with receiving a $2,000 award, will also move onto the Utah Entrepreneurial Challenge, where the winners will compete against students across the state.
As for tips on winning, Atencio said students should focus on their presentation as well as the financial realities of the plan.
“[The judges] will also be looking at management teams,” Atencio said. “That’s why it would be a benefit to have the psychology major working with the computer science major. They create great synergy.”
Any group of majors is acceptable, however.
Wells said past winners didn’t necessarily have the most ingenious or innovative idea but rather the right perspective.
“What I’ve seen in the past is that the students who win the competition are the ones who think about the product or service from a consumer’s point of view,” he said. “That’s the kind of process that leads to winners in the competition.”
Wells also said competitors didn’t need a meticulous plan, but rather a developable plan.
Atencio said the competition has a new element this year: a 90-second video.
“[The video] allows individuals to use a multimedia sales pitch,” he said. “It’s a better opportunity to connect with judges.”
Ultimately, Atencio said even if students don’t place, they’ll have earned valuable hands-on experience.
“[Participating] will give them a good opportunity to see what doing a startup is really like,” he said.
Wells agreed, saying the competition was free except for the time and commitment that would help students prepare for the real world.
“Everyone is a little bit of an inventor,” Wells said. “They see things that could be done. It’s a good opportunity for anyone to develop a good idea.
For more details and contact information, visit opportunityquest.org.