“If you look at the developed countries, especially the US and those in Europe, one of the major factors of why their economies are thriving is that they have a very large entrepreneurial community,” said Wilson Gan, assistant dean for the College of Business and Entrepreneurship of Enderun Colleges. “And I think it’s never too early to imbibe the entrepreneurial spirit.”
A study by The World Bank has found that a country’s rate of business entry is positively correlated with its per capita income, and while researchers are divided as to whether entrepreneurship begets development or development fuels entrepreneurship, flourishing new enterprises are usually a sign of good economic health.
In an effort to get younger people interested in entrepreneurship, Enderun launched The Next Bright Idea, an elevator pitch competition in cooperation with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry – Taguig City, late last year. The competition aimed to generate scalable, innovative business ideas and to give high school students enough room to stretch their entrepreneurial limbs.
The Next Bright Idea, which ran from September 2012 to January 2013, was open to teams of three to five members composed of third and fourth year high school students. While Enderun did not limit the number of teams per school, most fielded an average of one to two.
“The contest is all about encouraging these high school students to think about entrepreneurship, even at their age,” said Mr. Gan.
The competition was composed of two elimination rounds and three entrepreneurship classes, to give the students some background on opportunity-seeking in the market, business pitch creation, and business pitch delivery.
Mr. Gan shared that the organizers had decided to offer classes that concentrated more on brainstorming and the pitch itself, as opposed to the financial aspect of business. “We had to position it to high school students as a fun thing they could do,” he said. “Part of our goal is to get them excited about entrepreneurship.”
Mr. Gan also explained that after the classes, the students were given one to two months to define the ideas they had and then submit their entries online. The initial elimination round involved Enderun faculty members sorting through and ranking the 18-20 submitted entries, allowing the top 14 to move on to the final round. The final selection process, on the other hand, called for the teams to deliver their pitches in front of a panel of guest judges.
“[The judges] were very impressed with the ideas that came, especially when you think that these are high school students,” said Mr. Gan.
The winning pitch, a smartphone application called “K9” that enabled people to track their lost items, belonged to a team from Xavier School. The application would act as a “sniffer” and would be able to track “scents,” small devices attached to valuables and any precious belongings.
The students took home a grand prize of P50,000, which the planners intended to serve as a small seed capital for their business, as well as an exclusive team-building package for their school courtesy of Enderun Extension.
According to Mr. Gan, Enderun plans to make the competition an annual event, following the success of this pilot year. He did share, however, certain points of improvement they are currently working on, such as earlier communication to the high schools, more involvement from Enderun students, and some sort of mentorship system.
Mr. Gan also advised aspiring young entrepreneurs to get involved in as many contests and start-ups as possible, in order to practice the necessary skill set and see if entrepreneurship is indeed right for them.
– Liana Carine G. Barcia