Canyon Challenge has new time, new place, new look

March 25, 2019 / by / 0 Comment

By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau

In trains, there’s the express and the local.

In the Canyon Challenge, Grand Canyon University’s entrepreneurial competition for students and alumni, there’s the old way – once a year, like the express – and now there’s the new way.

More stops. Like the local.

Tim Kelley, who oversees the Canyon Challenge, is looking to expand the competition. (Photo by David Kadlubowski)

The spring 2019 version of the Challenge is set for 11:15 a.m. Wednesday in the Colangelo College of Business (CCOB) Building. That means it will be starting just as many students are getting out of class, and the hope is that they’ll stick around to hear the presentations.

It’s a radical departure in three ways:

  • New time (instead of late afternoon)
  • New venue (instead of GCU Arena)
  • And one very big new idea – it now will take place at least twice a year and already is on the schedule again for Dec. 6

“The primary objective is to have it happen more often,” said Tim Kelley, Assistant Professor for Entrepreneurship and Economics. “So rather than one big, flashy event in the Arena, it’s about ‘how can we do at least two events a year?’

“The idea of having it here with the Colangelo College of Business is that it can be more intimate, less intimidating – still prestigious, but we want more businesses more often.”

To that end, GCU has put in motion a plan to create more opportunities for business students to collaborate with students from the College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET).

“We need to do a lot better at getting the word out to the entire population, both online and ground, across all colleges, and particularly the engineering and computer people,” Kelley said. “They’re all doing capstones that are projects and should be actual businesses.”

Kelley has first-hand knowledge: He also teaches CSET classes. He noticed that computer programmers and engineers “would dive deep into the weeds of some technology but not be solving any particular problem – no business case behind it.”

In the fall semester, the plan is to have entrepreneurial students in both colleges start with a class that Kelley called “essentially identical.” Before long, he hopes to have the curriculum set up to where they work in the same classrooms on projects.

The five finalists for Wednesday’s Canyon Challenge were chosen from a group of 17 entrants who pitched at the weekly Shark Tank. As in the past, they will compete for $10,000 in prize money — $5,000 for the winner, $3,000 for second place and $2,000 for third.

The finalists are:

  • GreatR Media (Andrew Flowers, Connor Keene): Digital marketing agency that helps businesses and entrepreneurs leverage social media to create and scale revenue.
  • Outlet (Andrew Smith): Student marketing firm that specializes in social media
  • Ninjobi (Areahna O’Rea): Platform that enables millennials and Gen Z’s to connect with professional jobs while giving them flexibility, work/life balance and independence.
  • Bills Bowls (Isaac Bills): Meal-convenience company that enables students to save money, eat better and waste less.
  • Trvo (Malik Rivers): Travel-planning app built for the way millennials travel.

“It’s an interesting mix,” Kelley said. “All of them have some technology component to some extent, and there should be some good presentations.”

Separate from the competition, there also will be a special presentation by Seth Baxter for his idea, Restore: Plastic for Purpose.

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].


Related content:

GCU Today: Bowtie business fashions Canyon Challenge win

GCU Today: Canyon Challenge finalists show event’s evolution

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