Why business competitions are great

admin 23 May, 2014

There are two things which are most important if you want to start a business. First, you see a problem which needs to be solved. Secondly, you share your ideas and start solving it. Two months ago I participated in a business contest, the Global Enterprise experience, hosted by the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. It was an international competition in which many students between the age of 18 and 26 participated in. There were about one hundred teams of eight students per team. The goal was to think about a profitable product or service for children. I was placed in a team with one Dutch friend of mine, two Peruvians, two New Zealanders, one Chinese and one Nigerian. The diversity of my team has been very good for my understanding of different cultures.
At Hanze it is always easier to avoid problems by knowing someone’s background and culture. Here we had to communicate solely through the internet, and we did not know each other before the competition started.The greatest challenge in these kinds of competitions lies in communication. If your team communicates, your plan can be successful. If not, it is doomed to fail.
In the first week we already failed, two team members did not respond, and the others only shared some general information about themselves.
The next week went better, but still we did not make enough progress. One other member finally joined us and we shared some ideas about a product we could sell. In the third week our communication finally improved, we set clear deadlines for handing in parts of the report and commenting on each other’s ideas.
Our final business plan is a learning application for children to learn the basics of Mathematics and English. We target children 5-12 years old in India. Since cell phones are already sold at $25 and internet will be soon available in every place in the world, there is a huge market potential.
Unfortunately, we did not win the contest, but actually it did not matter at all. We shared, we learned, and we attributed to world changing ideas.
This is the eternal circle I want you to participate in. There are many benefits of participating in such competitions; new friends around the world, the experience of working only by using the internet, learning to communicate effectively, learning to be a leader and a team worker. These are only a few of many benefits. Next to these benefits, many competitions offer certificates: all participants of the Global Enterprise Experience get a certificate of the Victoria University of Wellington. Finally, if your team wins, you will also receive a money prize of NZ$800.
How do you think your new boss looks at you when he finds out you are interested in business competitions? And what if you would win? I highly recommend you to google business competitions, and just participate, it does not cost much time and it can be very valuable. Next to this I also recommend you to follow MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses) on Khan Academy or Coursera. It is an upcoming trend for employers to hire employees who have done the online courses. History teaches us that your career depends on the choices you make now, invest in your future and you will be rewarded.

Michiel de Koning, second-year IBMS student