A little over a week ago I had the great pleasure of getting to attend and help out with the grand finale event for this semester’s session of My Big Idea! This event, for those who don’t know, is a high school program where The Biz Foundry helps students turn their ambitious ideas into working business models. The finale events are marathon sessions where they all get to build a presentation to pitch to judges who then award cash prizes to the best executed and convincing ideas. The event this year was hosted at Tennessee Tech and there were 7 teams from across the Upper Cumberland area competing. Everyone did a great job, from teams who showed up with a fully thought out project to teams who came in with just the starts of a bold idea, but the important thing was that they showed up!
“There is no such thing as a free lunch” is a saying that was driven home to me in my economics class that
was held in the very auditorium where these students were participating in My Big Idea!, and while they did get to enjoy pizza and snacks provided by The Biz Foundry, they certainly put in a lot of effort to utilize this opportunity for everything it was worth. The simple act of showing up reaped for them more than just a free lunch, but a slew of great experience. Along with improving upon their ability to build and deliver an effective presentation, they learned how to keep a captive audience as well as other things.
One of my favorite experiences I had while I was there was meeting the team that eventually went on to win the whole competition. One half of the team had been working for weeks to develop this idea and get it ready for the finale when his teammates all dropped out of the program. Rather than giving up and not coming to the finale, he reached out to a friend who was happy to help. His new teammate had not gotten to participate in the rest of the session, but because they both showed up to the finale and gave it 110% they both went home with a nice cash prize.
When I first met the group that eventually came in second place, all they had was the beginnings of an idea. With just that idea and a couple of off the cuff examples they already had me wanting to buy their product! Showing up with their idea and putting in the effort all day in order to build it into a wonderful pitch gave them the opportunity to come in second and win money.
And finally, I am glad that I showed up. When I was first presented the offer to come help out with the event, 7:30 in the morning sounded a little too early for my senior-in-college, approaching-finals-week sleep schedule, but I still committed to showing up. What sleep I missed out on was well worth it because this event was fantastic! Getting to watch these dedicated high schoolers give up their Saturday morning and afternoon to work hard on projects that they were passionate about was a great experience that was truly inspiring.
Showing up can sometimes feel like more effort than it is worth, but if I learned one thing from coming to the Grand Finale event for this Spring’s My Big Idea!, it is that the benefits of being present should never be ignored