A team of five students walked away with a cash prize of $600 after its business pitch won the approval of the 24-Hour Imagination Quest judges on Nov. 17.

It was the second annual competition, and a University press release characterized it as a combination of reality television shows such as “The Amazing Race,” “Shark Tank,” “The Apprentice” and “Fear Factor” looking at business pitches provided by University students.

The contest began on Nov. 16. The 26 participants formed five teams of four to six people and were sent to various areas of the campus to look for potential problems or areas for improvement. Amanda Kelly, program coordinator for one of the sponsors, described the structure of the event.

After forming an idea for a product and conducting interviews with students and faculty to receive feedback, the team members pitched their ideas to potential investors during the time it takes to travel three floors in an actual elevator, she wrote in a blog post.

Sunday morning the students were challenged to create a prototype and market their idea to attract guests to a tradeshow exhibit.

In the final stage of the day-long competition, judges in the “Cat Cage” evaluated the teams based on presentations. The teams discussed the problems that they chose to address, explained their products and then attempted to convince the room of judges that their products adequately solved the problems and had potential for commercial success.

The American Dream Team + 2, comprised of Lincoln Escobar, Jack Kim, Joanna Schaff, Christina Tobin and Kaitlin Waller, created Grumble — an outlet for students to say which products they would like to find through convenience stores and other campus services.

The Dream Killers — Benson Li, Tyler Jensen, Robert McCabe and Thomas Volberg  — earned second place and $300. Third place went to Julian Chavez-Gaytan, Connor DeLaney, Scott Gosselin, Mary Hamilton, Peiyu Lin and Dathan Wong of the Bad Asterisks. They won $150.

II Luscri, director of the Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship, said that the Imagination Quest both challenges students and places them in a position to succeed. He also emphasized the benefits of having students from all four undergraduate colleges — nursing, arts and sciences, business and engineering — participate in the event.

“Getting students from different disciplines to spend time together is the most important thing ICE can do,” Luscri said. “The Imagination Quest not only facilitates those connections but provides an unparalleled mechanism for innovation and creativity.”

According to villanovaice.com, “The ICE Center has a multi-disciplinary and cross-college focus and seeks to advance the University’s strategy by fostering cross-college learning and embedding entrepreneurial thinking more deeply in the Villanova culture.”

In addition to the Imagination Quest, the ICE Center hosts other programs and events as well as guest speakers to highlight innovative opportunities and creative entrepreneurial ventures.

“A key take away for students is perspective,” Luscri said of the Quest. “It’s not every day that business, engineering, arts and sciences and nursing students spend time brainstorming and prototyping together.”

He added, “After this event, our students realize that everyone they need to start a new venture is right here on campus.”

The contest was sponsored by the Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship, the College of Engineering’s Entrepreneurship Program, the University’s Beyond Ideas working group and the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN).


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