Competitions are an integral part of entrepreneurship and were an integral part of Global Entrepreneurship Week held in November. Competitions help generate ideas, focus effort, build team and communication skills and solidify plans.
Penn State Lehigh Valley sophomore Xydemor Popa and his team placed third in the MDX + PSU + US Challenge. Popa applied to be in this competition after learning about it from the Schreyer Honors College Career Development Program.
During this global collaboration, students from Middlesex University (MDX) in London, University of Split (US) in Croatia, and Penn State formed teams. They were tasked with developing the skills and abilities to work remotely and virtually with a team that has diverse members. This is probably one of the most critical skills entrepreneurs can have in today’s working environment.
Each team had to identify a problem or need related to one of these four categories -- Green/ Sustainability, Social Entrepreneurship, "In the Home," and Transportation -- and were given three weeks to come up with a solution and submit a short three minute video addressing the problem and proposing their solution.
Popa, who is a finance major and Schreyer Scholar, and his teammates, including Yasmine Hassan from Middlesex University, Ante Banić and Miljenko Dujić both from University of Split and Shruti Motiwale from University Park campus first communicated through email. After establishing time zone differences, they decided to collaborate via Google Docs, Skype and instant messaging client WhatsApp for constant contact.
Popa said these forms of communication were critical since many of them were juggling this project on top of school and work. They met virtually at least once a week over Skype and used Google Docs for brainstorming, for preparing the video script and for aggregating members' assigned materials.
The team chose social entrepreneurship as their category and proposed an after-school, module-based online mentoring program that enforced three core concepts or pillars: “Create. Own. Sell.” Their mission was to reduce the opportunity gap for disadvantaged youth and foster their success by exposing them to the opportunities found within each pillar.
The team’s proposed solution included topic-specific modules containing videos, book suggestions, interactive games, snapshots of success cases and more, coupled with in-house developmental workshops, guest speakers, and community service outreach initiatives.