Case contest probes entrepreneurial minds

Rashik Riasat | Published: March 06, 2019 21:08:12 | Updated: March 28, 2019 11:48:59

Awardees, organisers and judges pose for a photo at Pioneros 3.0, a business case contest arranged by BUET Entrepreneurship Development Club

"Pioneros 3.0", the third edition of Pioneros, a flagship event of BUET Entrepreneurship Development Club ended on February 23, 2019 with 'Team Elixir' from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) bagging the champion's title. Powered by the City Bank Limited, this competition  started in December 2018. This two-month-long competition brought excitements among all the undergraduate students aspiring to be entrepreneurs.

Pioneros started with the vision of providing the first-hand experience in solving real-life business problems to undergraduate students. Now with the third edition being concluded, this event has proven to have left an effect on the young entrepreneurial minds.

The contest started with the online round where the teams had to come up with business plans and submit them in ten days. Within this period, a workshop also took place in the BUET auditorium where more than 750 participants attended and learnt the basics of creating business models and presenting them to the audience. At the end of the online round, top 50 teams were selected for the next round where they were divided into five panels and had to pitch their ideas in front of the judges. Twenty-one teams were selected from them who competed in another online round from where top 10 teams proceeded to the final round.

The grand finale commenced with the presentations of the teams one after another. Top 10 finalist teams selected from 350 participants from over 30 universities competed against each other on the grand finale. The finalists were given a challenge five days before the grand finale. They had to solve and present the challenge in front of the judges. Each team was given eight minutes, and after each presentation, there was a Q&A session where the participants had to answer the questions of the judges. 

The judges' panel included professors and business tycoons experienced in both financial and technological fields. Associate Professor of Civil Engineering in BUET Dr. Raquibul Hossain, CTO at NovoTel Limited Tanveer Ehsanur Rahman, founder and CEO of ARcom M Asif Rahman and an architect of EM solutions and e-commerce team lead at a2i Rezwanul Haque Jami were the judges.

After the presentations by all the teams, the judges and the guests were called upon to deliver their speeches, and they expressed their admiration for the students for coming up with the ready-to-be-launched business models. Rezwanul Haque Jami said, "Among the ten teams that presented, many have the potential to be eligible for government funding." He also informed, "Bangladesh government has an initiative called 'Idea Bank' where anyone can submit their ideas, and if considered good enough, the government will provide funding to materialise those ideas."

After the speeches were delivered, the results were finally published. The champion’s title went to "Team Elixir" of BUET marking the second consecutive win for BUET in Pioneros. "Team Laister" from Military Institute of Science and Technology (MIST) was the first runner-up and "Team Godmode" from North South University (NSU) took the second runner-up position. In addition to prize money, the three winning teams received altogether Taka 175,000 as seed money for continuing their works.  

This year's Pioneros challenge was to create a crowdsourcing-based business model rather than to solve typical cases. Therefore, the participants had to focus on building something from scratch instead of answering a particular business-related problem. The audience appreciated the undergraduate business and engineering students for their feasible  business models.

Mahin Abrar Rahman, one of the finalists, opined, "The Pioneros journey was long and strenuous, but it compelled us to work harder and explore more to start a feasible business of our own."

"All those late night hard-works, all those brainstorming and depression after each failure, everything faded away at the announcement of the winner. This is an opportunity for us never like before, and we intend on fully utilising it," said Madeha Sattar Khan, one of the winners.

"I am emotionally attached to Pioneros, and this year, my team and I gave our utmost effort to make the event flawless and successful. I am truly grateful to my team without whom it would be impossible to work out such an event. We will only call it a success when, at least, one of the teams will launch their business model," said Yanur Islam Piash, president of BUET Entrepreneurship Development Club.

Pioneros 3.0 was an important event for BUET Entrepreneurship Development Club as it gave a different direction and rhythm. The ultimate vision was to draw out the potential of young entrepreneurial minds and provide them with a scope to work for themselves, not for others. The faces of the contestants and gesture of the guests and judges indicated success of Pioneros 3.0.

The writer is a student of BBA programme at IBA, University of Dhaka. He can be reached atrashikriasat404@gmail.com

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