Do business plan competitions really work?
This was the challenge posed to college students from across the country who are studying entrepreneurship. The Department of Commerce Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship supported iCollegeCrowd on this challenge. iCollegeCrowd, an online experiential learning platform, utilizes the creativity and energy of college students to explore business solutions and social challenges, connecting the classroom to real businesses. The challenge was adopted by entrepreneurship faculty as an assignment for their students.
“The iCollegeCrowd platform supports knowledge application in the classroom. It is a great way to get students excited about content. I recommend other faculty give it a try,” said Dr. George Solomon, Director of Center for Entrepreneurship Excellence at George Washington University.
The winner of the challenge was Karan Kashyap, a freshman from the University of North Texas. Kashyap concluded that business plan competitions could be improved and suggested a multiple stage competition with more focus on the idea than the actual plan.
Dr. Tony Mendes, Director of the Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of North Texas, gave his class the opportunity to do a traditional assignment or a challenge using the iCollegeCrowd platform.
“Many chose iCollegeCrowd. I found the platform easy to use and the students had a great experience. This is definitely a tool I will use again and recommend to my colleagues. Students love the opportunity to communicate (and compete) with other universities, coast to coast. What a fabulous opportunity for all,” said Mendes.
What is iCollegeCrowd?
How it started: Michael Schneider, president of McPherson College, had an idea. He wanted to find a better way for faculty to help students learn. And he wanted to use technology to do it. After looking at several off-the-shelf platforms as well as some expensive custom build solutions, he wasn’t satisfied. So, he decided to do it himself. He assembled a team, built a platform and has BETA customers using it.
Problem: Classrooms are changing and students demand to learn by doing. Faculty do not have an easy way to incorporate meaningful experiential learning into their curriculum.
Solution: Create an online experiential learning platform that utilizes the creativity and energy of college students to explore business solutions and social challenges, connecting the classroom to real businesses.
Product: A community centered platform that integrates social networking, project management and data reporting functionality into a tool for faculty to use in their curriculum—a product that meets the expectations of Millennials.
How does it work? Students sign up; create a profile; participate in discussion threads by brainstorming ideas, commenting and voting; submit solutions, edit their solutions with feedback from the crowd, earn credibility in the crowd and create their own teams. Faculty sign up; create a profile; introduce real-time case studies into their curriculum by adopting challenges in CaseSpaces; create timely messages to encourage student engagement; track student progress using a dashboard to asses student work and collaborate with the broader higher-education community.
Fall 2012 BETA: iCollegeCrowd is BETA launching this fall with 20 entrepreneurship professors across the country that will bring ~1000 student community members from their classes to solve 5 challenges.Faculty from the following campuses are BETA partners: Babson College, Wake Forest University, University of Southern California, University of Arizona, Elon University, University of Denver, George Washington University, McPherson College, University of Cincinnati, St. Louis University, University of North Texas, University of North Carolina Greensboro, Metro Community College Omaha and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Any current college students and faculty can participate in the free Beta test of the platform by visiting www.icollegecrowd.com.
iCollegeCrowd is an online experiential learning platform that utilizes the creativity and energy of college students to explore business solutions and social challenges, connecting the classroom to real businesses. It integrates social networking, project management and data reporting functionality into a tool for faculty to use in their curriculum – a learning platform that meets the expectations of Millennials. Visit www.icollegecrowd.com for more information.