CC’s Big Idea competition, put on by Creativity & Innovation at Colorado College, invites groups of students to develop new, innovative ideas and pitch their ideas in front of local investors for seed funding in a traditional business-pitch format.
Now in its eighth year, the Big Idea competition seeks to give students an opportunity to develop their business ideas through mentorship and collaboration, supporting students with a wide range of interests and backgrounds to access the program. The format for the competition has changed slightly for 2020. Students teams competed in front of a panel of judges in the semifinal round for four spots in The Big Idea final event. Rather than selecting ranked winners at the final round, the four teams will each receive $7,500 in seed funding to continue to develop their ideas. This new format ensures that the four finalist teams are guaranteed seed funding, and also provides an opportunity for the teams to gain professional experience pitching their ventures in front of an audience.
Some of the student teams are getting involved for the first time in their CC career. But no matter if they are seasoned Big Idea veterans or newcomers, every student has a chance to participate in the Big Idea Changemaker workshops, attend a Half-Block course helping them refine their presentations and critique one another’s projects, and be part of a community of individuals who are excited to change the world with new, innovative ideas.
Infinite Chemistry was one of four finalist teams in 2019 and did not receive funding. They returned this year to compete again and were chosen as the top team by the majority of the judges. “What they accomplished over the last year was astounding and their increased confidence as presenters was remarkable,” says Dez Stone Menendez ’00, director of Creativity and Innovation at CC. They’ve been awarded $7,500 in seed funding this year and will present in the finals.
Lauren Weiss ’21, a computer science major, has competed in the Big Idea for the last three years. She made it to the finals her first year with a fitness app and she competed last year and didn’t make it to the finals with her company Geek Girl that seeks to empower more young women to pursue computer science. She returned to the semi-finals with Geek Girl this year and was chosen as a finalist. Her team will also receive $7,500 in seed funding.
“When I first started learning computer science, I was fortunate enough to have a female figure in my life to provide guidance and motivate me when I was feeling intimidated in such a male-dominated industry,” Weiss says of the inspiration for Geek Girl. “I know that most young women do not have the same opportunity for mentorship, so I made it a goal of mine when I got to CC to figure out a way to help high school-aged girls realize their potential when pursuing computer science.”
With innovation, creativity, and a community of like-minded students who are excited to help one another, the Big Idea competition is helping create the business owners of tomorrow.
“I hope to gain a greater sense of the difficulties an entrepreneur faces,” says Weiss of why she’s looking to gain from the big Idea competition. “These days, it seems like entrepreneurship is really glorified, and I think this perspective causes people to ignore the challenges that accompany starting a business. If I could get even a taste of what it means to be an entrepreneur from the Big Idea, I would really benefit by being more self-aware as I make my way into the professional world.”
Come celebrate this year’s Big Idea 2020 finalists as they present their venture ideas on Thursday, Feb. 27, from 3 to 5 p.m. in Celeste Theatre. Four teams will present their ideas: Journalista, Geek Girl, MemorMe, and Infinite Chemistry.
Journalista is a community marketplace connecting journalists directly with readers in order to promote the ideals of robust local reporting and ethical journalism.
Noah Weeks ’20
Benedict Wright ’20
Kobi Bhattacharyya ’20
Geek Girl works to close the gender gap in technology by identifying young girls who have taken an interest in computer science and providing them with mentorship opportunities to maintain their enthusiasm for technology.
Lauren Weiss ’21
Melissa LaFehr ’20
Sara Hanahan ’21
Maddi Schink ’23
MemorMe is an app based upon the premise that objects are often homes for our memories and feelings; this app uses psychological association to ensure that memories outlive their physical shells by providing them with a new digital home.
Tony Mastromarino ’23
Saigopal Rangaraj ’23
James Dollard ’22
Infinite Chemistry is a software that allows users to import molecules from any online chemical database and manipulate them in virtual reality, providing an opportunity to get data on the molecules’ symmetry and observe molecules interacting and reacting in real time.
Prakhar Gautam ’20
Paul Price ’20
Cameron MacDonald ’20
Tian Lee ’20
Pietro Giacomin ’20
Congratulations to the four finalist teams!