Olin’s BIG IdeaBounce: A springboard for entrepreneurship and innovation

  • January 3, 2024
  • By WashU Olin Business School
  • 4 minute read

The number of students contemplating entrepreneurship as a career path continues to grow.

In fact, 85% of MBA students counted themselves as aspiring entrepreneurs, according to a recent survey from Illuminate Ventures. It only makes sense as younger generations grew up during a time when many entrepreneurs were held in the same esteem as some of the most famous athletes. Entrepreneurs were people to admire not for their athletic prowess but for their ideas that could potentially change the world.

Aspiring entrepreneurs often make the mistake of keeping their ideas all to themselves. Even if it’s an MBA business idea concocted in the dead of night, they fear sharing it will lead to someone stealing their children’s birthright. But here’s the thing about the journey of entrepreneurship: It requires learning by doing, and the “doing” can be difficult without discussing it with others. It can also leave an idea lacking the feedback necessary to turn it into a reality. When promising entrepreneurs put themselves out there, many positive things can happen. Just trust that others are willing to help, not hurt.

Competing in an increasingly competitive landscape 

One of the more popular channels for aspiring entrepreneurs to share their ideas and get the valuable input they need has become entrepreneurship competitions. From community colleges to Ivy League institutions, an increasing number of schools offer this type of opportunity for their students each year—Olin Business School included. Held annually, the BIG IdeaBounce is quite similar to an entrepreneur pitch competition. WashU students get two minutes to pitch business ideas. The competition is open to graduate and undergraduate students alike. 

In our experience, there are two things aspiring entrepreneurs need to do once they have what they believe to be a solid business idea: Articulate it quickly to anyone who will listen, then take the resulting feedback to heart.

This contest allows for both. The feedback can be invaluable, as participants get multiple points of view about their ideas. The results can be incredible once students start pitching ideas and addressing feedback. The best is when one of the judges recommends that a given student talk to their friend who happens to work directly in that industry. All of this stems from a simple elevator pitch for MBA students and undergrads. 

Connections and conversations like these start the journey of entrepreneurship and lead to opportunities that might not otherwise be possible. Investors, for example, are far more likely to invest if aspiring entrepreneurs succeed in an elevator pitch competition. They’re far more open to providing seed funding, startup services and more. But to get off the ground, fledgling entrepreneurs must put themselves out there.

Understanding whether an idea has legs

Participating in an elevator pitch competition like Olin’s BIG IdeaBounce can provide social proof that an idea has legs, especially for those who make it to the final round.

PedalCell, the startup that won the competition last year, is a testament to that. The three co-founders—Adam Hokin, Vishaal Mali and David Harper—were highly praised for their tight pitch and business idea. In fact, they entered with more than just an elevator pitch for MBA students. They had a viable, patented product—a bicycle-powered USB charger, which is now available to purchase. That’s quite impressive.

The same can be said for Pool, one of last year’s BIG IdeaBounce finalists. Founded by Sarah Lands Ramrup and Becky Brosch, Pool is an app that reinvents online dating and turns it into a social activity. Instead of singles swiping right or left for themselves, they invite their friends to create a curated “pool” of potential matches. Both paid and free options are available to users, which can help drive revenue for the startup in two ways: memberships and advertisements. What’s more, users can keep the app once they’ve matched and help other friends find their matches.

Winning a competition can be life-changing for anyone looking to launch as a startup, as can getting into the final round. But the other benefit of an elevator pitch competition is that it serves as an outside catalyst for aspiring entrepreneurs to set and keep tangible goals. They’re looking at a deadline for crafting their pitch, fine-tuning their business plan and pulling their deck together—all of which can get the ball rolling and make students more comfortable sharing their vision with investors.

Taking the leap: Submit your idea and begin your entrepreneurial adventure 

WashU Olin’s BIG IdeaBounce is more than just a competition—it’s a nurturing ground where innovative ideas are honed and guided toward real-world implementation. By participating in the BIG IdeaBounce®, you get the chance to pitch your visionary idea and step into a thriving community of innovators, industry experts and potential investors. 

The platform is set, the audience is waiting and the opportunity is yours. So, what are you waiting for? Seize this chance to showcase your entrepreneurial prowess, and let WashU Olin be the springboard for your innovation and entrepreneurial ambitions. Head over to WashU Olin’s BIG IdeaBounce registration page and submit your idea now—your idea could be the next big thing, and the BIG IdeaBounce is the perfect platform to give it wings.

About the Author

Washington University in Saint Louis

WashU Olin Business School

Firmly established at the Gateway to the West, Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis stands as the gateway to something far grander in scale. The education we deliver prepares our students to thoughtfully make difficult decisions—the kind that can change the world.

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