Have an entrepreneurial or innovative mindset? The Fox School’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) is the place to make it happen! The Innovative Idea Competition is entering it 26th year and the stakes are even higher!
The Fox editorial staff sat down with Nick Yarnall, director of IEI, and Neil Johnston, associate director of IEI, to provide insight into this exciting competition and detail what programs and resources the IEI offers to the Temple community.
|Nick Yarnall||Neil Johnston|
What three words come to mind when describing the IEI?
Nick Yarnall: Empowering. Innovative. Leadership. The IEI provides students, alumni, staff and faculty with the tools they need to foster an entrepreneurial mindset that will allow them to execute in a purpose-driven manner.
The Innovation Idea Competition is celebrating its 26th year. Tell us what’s new for this year’s competition.
Neil Johnston: The IEI has teamed up with Temple’s Blackstone LaunchPad to double the support opportunities for applicants. We also offer four additional award tracks. If you have an idea for a new product, service, technology or even a creative spin on something existing – applications are open for a shot at $10,000+ in prizes and awards for the top finalists!
Can you briefly share the exciting resources the IEI offers to the Temple community?
Neil: The IEI resources are available to all 17 schools & colleges at Temple and includes current students, alumni, staff and faculty.
Startup programming includes:
- Expert mentorship
- Startup consulting/advising support
- Startup funding opportunities
- Connections with the larger startup ecosystem within Philadelphia
In addition, there are academic paths to support entrepreneurially minded students including:
- Undergraduate program: Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management
- Graduate program: Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship
For a student who has an idea, what are the first steps they can take to turn this idea into a reality?
Nick: It wasn’t all too long ago when I, myself, was a Temple student with an idea. It can be a scary, exciting and brand-new experience. Fortunately, Temple has a vast network of alumni who have been through it before – which you can leverage throughout your entrepreneurial career by tapping into the IEI.
The two initial steps you should consider are:
- Is there a problem worth solving? Typically, this question is answered through some form of customer discovery.
- Problem/solution fit. This critical stage is figuring out who your consumer market is and if your idea meets the criteria to solve your customer’s problem.
Neil: It's also important to know that your idea doesn't have to be a start-up business—it could be a small side hustle, an idea to make yourself more marketable, or just the way that you approach your career. The IEI is here to help with all of it!
The Be Your Own Boss Bowl celebrated 25 years last year! What’s new as this event moves into the next year?
Nick: The Be Your Own Boss Bowl (BYOBB) has always been the IEI’s flagship pitch event and has been coveted by new startup founders as the ultimate IEI milestone. Listen to previous participants about their experience in this competition below. This year we are introducing new support opportunities that will enable startup founders to perfect their company pitch prior to the BYOBB and receive personalized startup support afterward. More to come soon on these exciting opportunities!
For you, what is the most exciting thing about being part of someone’s entrepreneurial journey?
Nick: It’s watching the passion grow behind the venture. You can hear it in someone’s voice, see it in their strategic plans, and feel it through the way they articulate their vision. In my experience, helping ventures succeed has always been as equally intoxicating as running my own.
Many students are interested in starting a venture to help make the world a better place. What types of programming are available for social entrepreneurs?
Neil: There are many opportunities for social entrepreneurs!
- Courses for Temple undergraduates:
- SGM 3511 - Doing Well by Doing Good: Where Innovation and Entrepreneurship Meet Social Impact
- SGM 3685 - New Venture Internship: Learning to be a High-Value Employee, Manager, or Founder
- Changemaker Challenge, a social impact idea competition, which is part of the university-wide Social Impact Summit held February of every year.
- Speakers who are major players on the national and regional social impact scene and workshops on how to maximize your social impact. This programming begins in October.
Any final thoughts?
Neil: You don’t have to have an idea or a business to interact with the IEI and get our support. All are truly welcome!
Nick: Entrepreneurship is a mindset that can be applied to many aspects throughout one’s professional career—so whatever path you’re on, the IEI can help you take it to the next level.
Photo credit: Cathy Wong from the Innovation Showcase