Cashing in on business ideas

While many students are preparing for their upcoming finals in hopes of earning an A, several students have an exam that may bring them $2,000 and entrepreneurial stardom.

The Student Business, Entrepreneurs and Investors Group (SBEIG) of Pierce College will host the Innovative Brahma Challenge on April 25 from 5 to 7 p.m. in The Great Hall.

The event will mimic the show “Shark Tank.”

“We call it a ‘Shark Tank’ event because it makes it easy for people to kind of connect it to something they’re familiar with, but basically it’s a business pitch competition,” specially funded program specialist Raffi Kahwajian said.

The winning team will receive $2,000 in prize money, provided by the ASO.

“That money is to be used to further the business, to form the business, to buy supplies – whatever you need. That money is a little kickstarter to get it going,” club president Parker Selby said.

Pierce College students submitted their original ideas for a chance to participate in the event.  Kahwajian and Selby narrowed 12 initial submissions down to seven teams who will be presenting their ideas to the public the day of the event.

Although most SBEIG club members are interested in entrepreneurship, none of them are participating in the event, which is open to all majors.

“We have students from all ranges. All of the ideas are in different industries. They all seem innovative so it was open to anyone that had an idea,” Selby said.

The presenters will have up to five minutes to pitch their business idea and will then answer follow-up questions from a panel of five professionals working in the industry. Each panelist will be allowed one question. In total, each group is expected to take the stage for approximately ten minutes.

The panel will consist of experts from various backgrounds including accounting, advertising and banking.

The experts will judge the teams in five categories: innovation, presentation, need and proper use of money, potential for success and feasibility of earning a profit.

ASO Senator for the Business Department Lauren Robin thinks that it is important to host this kind of event for students who want to go into business.

“It’s so expensive to start your own business, especially as a college student,” Robin said. “So, at a community college, I think it’s really cool that we’re giving them a space to do that.”

To prepare for the event, the participants have been receiving mentoring from experts in the field once a week for the past month. The main purpose of these hands-on workshops was for the aspiring entrepreneurs to formulate their business plans and learn how to market their ideas.

According to Kahwajian, one of the most beneficial outcomes of the challenge is the experience that Pierce students will get out of it.

“It’s going to be rewarding,” Kahwajian said. “Even if students don’t win, what they’re having to go through to prepare and just being being able to speak in front of actual professionals with a variety of backgrounds in business is valuable in itself. A lot of the times, you hear successful business people say it wasn’t the schooling that they ended up using, it was more about experiences like this.”