Presented by The Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship, the annual B.E.T.A. (Babson Entrepreneurial Thought & Action®) Challenge business competition is a significant experience for many Babson alumni, undergraduate, and graduate student entrepreneurs, putting their entrepreneurial leadership skills to the test as they compete for more than $250,000 in cash and prizes.
At every step of the way, Babson faculty are there to support the entrepreneurs in their endeavors.
The B.E.T.A. Challenge recognizes the progress and potential of Babson ventures, as they take action to solve pressing problems, build their businesses, and create economic and social value.
From the first stage of the competition, Babson faculty contribute their expertise. Each student entrepreneur who applies must find a faculty sponsor, who is willing to review the application and provide input. Often, students approach a faculty member with whom they’ve worked with before and have built a relationship. In some cases, these relationships grow out of connections first made in classes or Babson’s experiential programming, such as the Blank Center’s Butler Launch Pad and Summer Catalyst.
As the competition progressed toward the semifinal event, the Blank Center tapped faculty members for their insights and perspectives. For the first time, faculty reviewers were drawn from divisions across campus, including entrepreneurship, marketing, operations and information management, and management. These faculty reviews, along with evaluations completed by Babson alumni volunteers, helped select the 18 semifinalists—six teams in each of three categories (undergraduate students, graduate students, and alumni).
‘Perspective to Ponder’
With the semifinalists identified, another group of faculty members and leaders from Babson College’s Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership and Babson Executive Education took on roles of semifinal judges. In reimagining this round, the Blank Center team decided to build the event as an opportunity for the semifinalists to hone their communication skills. Each entrepreneurial team had one minute to introduce themselves and their venture and then responded to live Q&A, thinking on their feet and articulating key messages in limited time.
Operations and information management Assistant Professor Jennifer Bailey, who served as a judge for the alumni ventures, probed the innovativeness of the products and services being discussed: “In an overcrowded and overcompetitive consumer landscape,” she said, “the ability to capture the attention of your future customers is so important.”
Bailey also made the connection between her research and teaching interests and the types of questions and feedback she offered. “I also love the opportunity to provide the venture a new perspective to ponder,” Bailey said, “which can hopefully strengthen their planning and execution in the future.”
‘The Idea, the Venture, the Process’
The willingness of Babson faculty members to share their time and talent is pivotal to the success of the B.E.T.A. Challenge.
For Eliana Crosina, assistant professor of entrepreneurship, the semifinal event was an opportunity to contribute to the community and to engage with Babson students and alumni and their ventures. She sees a natural progression from the classroom to experiential programs, such as the B.E.T.A. Challenge, where students can apply what they have learned, explaining it as the “pursuit, the refinement, the shaping of some skills.”
Ultimately, for the B.E.T.A. Challenge competitors and for entrepreneurial leaders seeking to create impact, it also comes down to mindset: “It’s the idea, the venture, the process,” Crosina said. “It’s who they are, how they think.”
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