Unleash the Power of your Imagination – 24 Hour Imagination Quest

IMG_1958On November 16-17, 2013, Beyond Ideas, the ICE Center and the Engineering Entrepreneurship Program hosted the 24 Hour Imagination Quest competition, an innovative entrepreneurship competition in which students work on teams to develop a new idea, product, or service in just 24 hours.  Sponsored by funding from The Kern Family Foundation, the 24 Hour Imagination Quest competition was open to all students campus-wide and ignited the spirit of innovation across Villanova.  Villanova University is a member of the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN), a collaboration of U.S. universities that strive to instill an entrepreneurial mindset in undergraduate engineering and technology students.

26 students took part in the 24Hour IQ, and began the day on Saturday afternoon meeting one another and forming teams.  Students from engineering, business, nursing, and arts and sciences blended together to harness their individual talents and work on a team.  The teams were then sent out to various places on campus to observe locations they may see every day in a new light.  How many times have we all walked through the Connelly Center and never thought about the sights, sounds, and potential for problem solving solutions right before our eyes?  These students used their imagination to discover opportunities for improvement and then developed a new product idea which addressed the issues they found.  They interviewed the public to get feedback from potential customers on their idea, and then gave an elevator pitch on their concept to prospective investors in a real elevator.  With only the amount of time it takes to travel three floors in an elevator, the students had to convince judges that their idea was feasible and worthy of investment.  You never know when you might be sharing an elevator with your company’s CEO, and these students will be ready.

IMG_1995On Sunday morning, the teams developed a prototype of their creation, and designed an exhibit for their product to be displayed at the tradeshow.  Attendance at the tradeshow was completely based on the students’ ability to market their idea, solicit friends and guests to come see their work, and get the word out.  A variety of marketing techniques were used, whether it was Father Peter’s face on signs, or cookies for guests.  The team with the most visitors received the most points.

The culmination of the weekend was a presentation in the Cat Cage, a board room of judges who decided the teams’ fate based on the quality of their idea and the strength of their business pitch.  The students needed to illustrate the problem, describe their product, and convince a board room of investors that their solution will be a commercial success.

The winning team, Lincoln Escobar (VSB), Jack Kim (LAS), Joanna Schaff (EG), Christina Tobin (EG), and Katilin Waller (VSB), created Grumble, which gives students a voice on products they would like to find through campus services, such as convenience stores.

The 24 Hour Imagination Quest is a fast-paced weekend filled with tasks which inspire creativity and help students put their classroom expertise to work; ideation, brainstorming, business pitches, prototype development, marketing, product feasibility.  Even more than that, the 24Hour IQ gives students a taste of what it’s like working in the real world, where you have to learn to communicate with diversified teams, problem solve new solutions, and clearly explain your work to investors, customers, and executives.  Mastering such skills is invaluable in the world outside Villanova…not bad for just 24 hours.