Huntsman Post

Students are tested and rewarded for their entrepreneurial instincts

Students assembled hygiene kits as part of an on-campus service project organized for e-Week.

Photo by Steve Eaton


By Connor Child

The entrepreneurial-minded students at Utah State University came out in full force during the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Council’s (IEC) third annual e-Week.

“This was the best e-Week we have ever had,” said Paul Rossiter, IEC president. “We had a great turnout at all of the events, and the participants in the competitions had some remarkable, innovative ideas.”

The IEC’s focus is to aid budding entrepreneurs by evaluating their ideas, connecting them with professionals and giving them the tools they need to get started. The culmination of their efforts is e-Week, which features an event every day aimed at igniting the entrepreneurial instincts of USU students.

Several prominent business leaders were on hand during the week to network with the student entrepreneurs. Many of them, such as ICON Health & Fitness CEO Scott Watterson, were keynote speakers. Other business professionals were part of judging panels for the Elevator Pitch and 72-Hour Innovation competitions.

The premier event of e-Week was the Elevator Pitch Competition. The contest awarded $13,500 in cash prizes with $7,500 going to the overall winner. As part of the competition, individuals and students submitted executive summaries about their business ideas. Out of the 70 initial submissions, 25 were asked to present two-minute pitches to a panel of professionals, and 10 were invited to present again in the final round.

The overall winner of the Elevator Pitch Competition was a team made up of USU students Tyler Tolson, Jo Olsen and Nate Bendall. They came up with a business plan for reserving parking spots at large sporting events.

A snowboarder shows off his skills with the e-Week Rail Jam and Business Expo.

Photo by Steve Eaton

The IEC combined entrepreneurship and snow sports with the e-Week Rail Jam and Business Expo. While skiers and snowboarders were sliding on rails on a snow ramp set up in the Romney Stadium parking lot, several student entrepreneurs set up booths to market their ventures.

“I had no idea there were so many student-run businesses at Utah State,” said snowboarder and USU student Kade Hansen. “I thought combining the business expo with the rail jam was a great way for new businesses to broaden their reach.”

Key sponsors included the Utah State University Commercial Enterprises, USTAR, Ballard Spahr, Workman Nydegger, Clearwater Law and Ernst and & Young. A significant portion of the donations came from USU alumnus Gary Anderson and the Entrepreneur Founders Board.

“We couldn’t have done any of this without our sponsors,” Mr. Rossiter said. “This week was a success largely as a result of their generosity. I hope that the students who participated in e-Week remember what they did, and I hope they follow their examples and give back to start-up entrepreneurs when they find success.”