It was Eddie White’s marketing teacher at Franklin High School that got him thinking about a path to entrepreneurship.
Now, the sophomore at Michigan State University wants to help others chase their dreams by bringing a competition to provide some funding and services for one local start-up.
White has launched the first-ever Jolt Competition and is currently accepting ideas. The contest is open to individuals who have an idea for a business they would like to launch. Those interested can submit a idea to the contest, which will then get placed into an online poll in May. Top vote-getters will then be invited to pitch their ideas in person June 1 at Livonia’s Black Label Tavern.
He said this idea stems from a competition he participated in near Lansing called The Hatching, which brought in entrepreneurs to pitch ideas for some funding. He won a round with his idea, a system involving smart sports peripherals for athletic events. After participating and winning in that event, he decided to bring it back to his hometown.
“I was just really inspired by that,” he said. “This is really something that could really succeed in the Livonia area.”
Dan West, president of the Livonia Chamber of Commerce, said the idea to hold such a competition is a great one for the city’s potential entrepreneurs.
“White has shown a great entrepreneurial spirit with his initiative and determination to create this opportunity for young business-savvy minds in and around Livonia,” he said. “He tells us there are many teenage and college-age people what want to explore entrepreneurism and this effort opens a door for those people.”
While the contest is based in Livonia, any Michigan resident 16 or older can participate. Proposals must be just an idea, not something that’s a part of an existing corporation or LLC.
The contest winner would be provided with several thousands of dollars in scholarship money and business start-up costs. Sponsors have increased since the contest was announced, White said, increasing the prizes the winner will receive. Those include a $1,000 scholarship to be used for education, enrollment in Schoolcraft College’s Entrepreneur Series through the the Michigan Small Business Development Center, as well as start-up accounting services and other benefits.
The ideas being pitched will be listed in an online poll that can be voted on beginning May 1. White stressed these ideas don’t need to something from the mind of Mark Zuckerberg: they just need to make a difference.
“We’re not looking for people to be the next Facebook,” he said. “Something small that impacts people’s everyday lives. We want something we can see that can turn into the a reality.”