Course teaches students to look at problems as opportunities

Two weeks ago, Mount Royal University hosted its Innovation Tournament based on the school’s ENTR 2301 course; the entrepreneurial experience.

The event celebrated the work of students across multiple sections of ENTR 2301 in creating, measuring, and communicating value out of an everyday household item.

Students did this by working in small groups and by filming and presenting short three-minute videos of their creations.

This year, the household item given to students was an envelope. Students had seven days to use as many or as little envelopes as desired to create some form of value, be it economical, social, functional, or a mix of the three.

Vance Gough, one of the faculty professors for entrepreneurship at MRU, said that the tournament is held every year out of the benefit it brings to both the MRU family and the surrounding community.

“It essentially does a number of things for both the students and the school,” Gough said. “Students develop thinking strategies to become more innovative, and the competitive nature of the tournament brings out everyone’s A game, dramatically increasing the quality of creations.Envelopes were the everyday household item that students were required to use in order to create a new form of value.
Photo courtesy of: christmasstockimages.com

“Then, the community is also able to see what MRU students are capable of and this puts the school in a good light,” Gough said. “Expectations for MRU graduates essentially become heightened.”

Submissions for the event were certainly not lacking in creativity. One group managed to create stylized picture frames out of the envelopes, while another group coated envelopes with a substance that when lit, produced a safely contained and long-lasting fire, creating a source for both heat and light.

Other teams made greeting cards out of the envelopes themselves, eliminating the need for the dual purchase of both cards and envelopes.

While most groups created vastly different forms of value out of the envelope, the central idea of the entrepreneurship class — looking at everyday problems as opportunities rather than annoyances — was shared amongst all.

Chenc Cherneff, an MRU student majoring in economics who participated in the tournament, agreed with the optimistic principle of the course..

“Sometimes the simplest problem that we tend to omit or live with every day can become the next big thing,” Cherneff said. “If you start to think about such a problem as an opportunity, there is potential to make profit.”

Majoring in economics at MRU, Chenc Cherneff was one of the many students participating within the Innovation Tournament.
Photo courtesy of: Chenc Cherneff
Groups that succeeded in making a profit from their envelope creations donated their earnings to a charity or fundraiser of their choice. Such generosity showcased the social value side to the entrepreneurial event.

Randy Lam, participant and geology major at MRU, said that including social value into an entrepreneurial creation is good thinking so long as that’s the most important intention.

“Depending on the goals you have when creating your venture, this should definitely influence the type of value you’ll look for,” Lam said. “So if you’re not looking to make some money, you need something to appeal to the people, and that becomes your value.”

Roughly 400 people attended the event.

EDITOR’S NOTE: David Goldenstein took the MRU ENTR 2301 course during the winter semester of 2012.

dgoldenstein@cjournal.ca