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

    The Robert K. O’Brien Next Big Idea Contest helps Worcester State students develop an idea for a business or social venture. It was the inspiration of Robert K. O’Brien ‘58 to encourage Worcester State students to make an impact with their ideas.

    During the 10 week program, the participants have access to valuable information, entrepreneurial tools, knowledgeable mentors, and the option to work on their ideas during three interactive workshops. Five finalists get to pitch their ideas to some really nice judges, and compete for thousands of dollars in cash prizes and seed money. The pitch is five slides in five minutes followed by a five minute Q&A.

    The five finalists are selected based upon the quality of their written business brief. This 4 to 5 page document provides a description of their business idea, value proposition, initial customer profile and market size, evidence of market demand and future growth potential, description of the entrepreneurial team, actions taken to date, future actions planned, startup costs and pro forma income statement. The program provides the guidance and resources needed to help each participant develop a competitive business brief. Check out the sample business brief for a fictional venture called “India in a Box”. It is available in the Resources section of this webpage. In addition, the program helps the finalists prepare for their pitch.

    What past participants loved most about being a part of the program is meeting other entrepreneurial minded students, developing new skills, and making significant progress on an idea in one semester.

    The Five Finalists from 2021

    Key Dates for the 2022 Program

    • February 4
      Sign up closes at 11:59 PM
    • February 7 to 2/13
      Initial 1:1 meeting with a mentor to discuss idea and begin planning
    • February 15
      Workshop: Prototyping and Testing Your Idea at 11:30 AM to 12:45 PM
    • February 21 to 27
      Check in meeting with mentor to work on testing idea
    • March 7 to 13
      Check in meeting with mentor to discuss market sizing and evidence of growth potential
    • March 22
      Workshop: Financial Projections and Assumptions at 11:30 AM to 12:45 PM
    • March 28 to 4/3
      Check in meeting with mentor to work financials
    • April 5
      Workshop: Storytelling and Pitching at 11:30 AM to 12:45 PM
    • April 4 to 7
      Check in meeting with mentor to review draft business brief
    • April 8
      Business brief due by 5:00 PM
    • April 12
      Five finalists announced for the Next Big Idea Contest
    • April 19
      Opportunity to practice pitch in BA402 class
    • April 20
      Next Big Idea Contest

    For more information, contact Elaine Vescio, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship:

    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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