BW “Start Something” competition inspires students to make concepts a reality

“Start Something” winners gain confidence in their ability to conceptualize an idea and take steps to form it into a feasible business venture.

The winners of 2023’s “Start Something” were announced March 27. “Start Something” is an annual contest in which undergraduate and graduate students alike can submit venture ideas to be considered for cash prizes. LaunchNET, based out of the Center for Innovation & Growth, sponsored this competition and provided its prizes. 

“We had 42 students participate, and 20 submissions from both undergraduate and graduate students,” said LaunchNET program manager Caite Lenahan. “We opened up the competition to three categories.”  

Those categories this year were New Startup/Prototype, Idea For BW, and Social Innovation. 

Sophomore graphic design major Claire Fischer said she was surprised and excited by the win.  She was part of the group that took third place in Idea for BW with an idea to combat food waste on our college campus, possibly through “a pop-up shop or a one-time food truck.” Fischer expressed interest, through her involvement in the service organization Circle K, of potentially turning this winning concept into reality.  

“I can’t speak for my other team members, but I would definitely like to do something with it … it’s still on my mind to do something for the fall or any upcoming year,” Fischer said. 

Of his win, junior computer science and economics double major Sonny Smith said, “It definitely gives me more confidence.” Smith took home the first place title in New Startup/Prototype with an idea for a camera device that would scan parking spaces and send the info to an app or website, where drivers could then see their parking options.  

Smith was awarded $150 for his idea, with an additional $50 for “being the judges’ favorite.” He also encourages others to take part in Start Something. “Just try it out,” he said. “What harm could it do?” 

Sophomore pre-law major Mia Basit, who placed first in the Idea For BW category, shares the sentiment of confidence. “It’s a big faith-booster,” she said. “It shows that they did really appreciate the mission that I stand for, and they appreciate the initiative.”  

Basit was working on the “Start Something” competition in tandem with a project she started with the Brain Center, where she “focuses on first generation students and how we can build resources to support them here on campus.”  

Basit said she looks forward to continuing work on this project and with LaunchNET in general. “I’m very grateful for things like LaunchNET and other opportunities BW has, because without that I wouldn’t be able to do something like this,” she said. “It’s great BW gives students a platform like this to be able to express their passion and make a difference.”