ACADEMICS

  • The Robert K. O’Brien Next Big Idea Contest

    Successful businessman Robert K. O’Brien ’58 wanted to challenge Worcester State students to take their business ideas from wishful thinking to actual plans. Since 2013, The Robert K. O’Brien ’58 Next Big Idea Contest has allowed students to pitch their ideas to a panel of business-savvy judges and compete for cash prizes to support the development of their plans.

    In 2021, the Robert K. O’Brien ’58 Next Big Idea Contest was integrated the IDEA Accelerator, a fast-paced, semester-long program for Worcester State students who want to validate their idea and figure out if it is worth pursuing. The action-based format uses a series of entrepreneurial “sprints” to get the idea out of your head, tested, and refined.

    The deadline for registering for the 2021 Idea Accelerator is Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021. For more information, contact Elaine Vescio, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship: evescio@worcester.edu.

    IDEA Accelerator Overview


    Sprint 1: Explore Your IDEA: Develop your customer value proposition (weeks 1 to 2)

    • Ideation, initial core customer(s), focus on “desirability”
    • Deliverable is a brief, fun video and showcase page
    • Ends with feedback and fan favorites

    Sprint 2: Pursue Your IDEA: Find your viable business model (weeks 3 to 6)

    • Deliverable is a business model canvas with assumptions for at least two of the components tested; startup costs, and a breakeven analysis
    • Initial business brief
    • Description of the business idea
    • Value proposition that highlights the problem being solved or need being met
    • Initial customer profile and market size
    • Actions taken to date, and future actions planned
    • Startup costs and breakeven analysis
    • Ends with 10 finalists selected for the Next Big Idea Contest, and a gift for all participants

    Sprint 3: Communicate Your IDEA: Tell the story of your idea (weeks 7 - 10)

    • Pitch deck
    • Complete business brief:
    • Description of the business idea
    • Value proposition that highlights the problem being solved or need being met
    • Initial customer profile and market size
    • Proof of market demand and future growth
    • Description of the entrepreneur(s)/team
    • Actions taken to date, and future actions planned
    • Startup costs and breakeven analysis
    • Income statements
    • Video
    • Woo Choice Award for favorite video - $250

    Robert K. O’Brien ’58 Next Big Idea Contest

    The finale to the IDEA Accelerator is the Robert K. O'Brien '58 Next Big Idea Contest, where the 10 finalists compete for cash awards and venture seed money.

    Prizes

    • $2,500, grand prize
    • $1,000, second prize
    • $500, third prize
    • $250, Woo Choice Award for favorite video

    Read about past winners of the Robert K. O’Brien ‘58 Next Big Idea Contest:

  •  “I believe Worcester State students have the creative innovation to launch the ‘Next Big Idea.’ And I’m excited about the creativity and enthusiasm demonstrated in this entrepreneurship competition.”

     – Robert K. O'Brien ’58

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