Refining Big Ideas During Half Block

By Alana Aamodt ’18

The Big Idea competition is just a few weeks away and the Innovation at CC team has been hard at work throughout Half Block in its new student-designed space on the corner of Weber Street and Cache La Poudre, helping students perfect their pitches. The Big Idea is a startup pitch competition where teams of CC students propose entrepreneurial ventures to a panel of judges for the chance to win a chunk of the $50,000 prize money to fund their project.

The Big Idea Half Block class, which is optional for teams entering the competition, has spent nearly all of the past two weeks going through an entrepreneurial boot camp, taking students from business idea to viable presentation and business model.

The first week broke down the components needed to enter the competition, helping teams create mission statements and executive summaries, and generally refining their ideas. The rest of it has been spent creating comprehensive slideshow presentations, called “pitch decks” in the startup world. Collaborative and intense, the Big Idea Half Block witnessed teams’ ideas ranging from hot sauce to toys to iPhone apps.

To help prepare students to present, the class participated in the Career Center session Improv Theatre, the Job Market, and You led by Anne Braatas ’76, playing improv games to help with confidence and energy while pitching. In addition, the students have practiced their pitches multiple times, presenting to each other and the professors — Jake Eichengreen and Dez Stone Menendez. Eichengreen is the executive director of the QUAD Innovation Partnership and Menendez is the director of Innovation at CC. Menendez, who has a background in startup and small business consulting, says her “passion is empowering people to execute their ideas, particularly young people,” and that the most inspiring and exciting part of teaching this Half Block is seeing just how quickly students can build a pitch.

The finale Big Idea event, where finalists will pitch ideas on the stage of Celeste Theatre, will be held Thursday, Feb. 8.

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