Business IDEAS for Entrepreneurs
Encouraging younger people to become involved in entrepreneurship by holding business idea competitions is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to innovate our way out of the current financial doldrums the world finds itself in.
The creativity and energy exhibited by the students who enter the top business idea competitions from around the U.S. have shown the rest of us just how easy they can make it look when it comes to generating a new idea, putting together a plan, and pitching it to the world like pros.
We decided to explore thousands of finalists, runners-up, and winners from hundreds of college competitions, held recently (within the last few years), in order to bring you our top 10 list of ideas that have the potential to disrupt entire industries, or solve real-world problems with real elegance.
List of winners
Click on any of the links below to read more about the idea, which college it came from, and information on the idea, the company, and why we think it is such a great idea.
How we chose the winners
Our team scoured university competition websites for two days gathering a list of possible candidates from winners, runners up, and other finalists over the previous couple of years. From that big list we selected only those ideas that had moved from being an idea into a real startup.
Then we chose our winners based on the ideas we felt were inherently unique, or offered elegant solutions to existing problems. In addition, we also put emphasis on those ideas that leveraged newer technologies because we wanted to show how new opportunities can arise from seemingly disparate advancements in other fields.
Finally, we voted on how to rank the remaining short-list based on our assessment of how profitable (i.e. how much existing and potential demand there is in the market) each could be, what their growth potential is, and what possibilities there are for providing ever more and better add-on services/features as the businesses evolve.
Hopefully, you'll be as fascinated and amazed as we are by the cool startups these university entrepreneurial competitions are bringing to life.
Competition: MIT 100k Launch
RaptorMaps builds and operates unmanned aircraft to provide crop analytics to agribusiness clients.
One third of crops planted in the world are destroyed by diseases, insects, and weeds.
RaptorMaps spots these troubled plants and enables focused pesticide application, increasing crop yields while reducing environmental impact.
I like this idea, not only because of the old adage that "prevention is better than cure", but because it has the potential to cut down on the huge number of toxic pesticides and other chemicals we currently blanket our planet in. Anything that can help prevent us from wiping out natural ecosystems using poisons is a winner in my book.
Competition: BYU Big Idea Pitch
Latitude, founded by Brody Horton and Kyle Taylor, provides audio tours based on where you are in the world.
Latitude shares the stories of locations in a way that allows tourists to learn about the world around them without needing an expert present.
Because all the tours are recorded by professional tour guides, it’s like having an expert on stand-by the entire time you’re travelling, allowing you to explore anything at your own pace.
I hate guided tours. They drive me nuts because I can't explore at my own pace. Having a digital, knowledgeable local tour guide would be perfect for me (and anyone like me).
3. Focus Foods
Competition: Harvard New Ventures
FOCUS Foods Inc puts urban aquaponics farms on the roofs of grocery stores across the nation, while also building stand-alone farms to sell to farm-to-table restaurants.
Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics that recirculates water in a closed-loop ecosystem. Wastewater from the fish provides organic fertilizer to the plants and the plants clean the fish waste from the water.
This solves some of the key inefficiencies of hydroponics and aquaculture.
Aquaponics uses a small fraction (estimated 5-10%) of the water needed for traditional farming (and none of the soil), is completely organic, and entirely sustainable.
I think it's about time we started building sustainable produce. I'm fairly certain that there are potentially thousands of these types of closed-loop systems just waiting to be invented and used to make a diverse array of foods.