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Central Washington University

CWU tournament teaches today’s prep students how to become tomorrow’s entrepreneurs

Many Faces of Entrepreneurship 2018 publicity photoAbout 300 high school students from throughout south-central Washington will learn how to create, start, and successfully operate a start-up business venture during the 2018 “Many Faces of Entrepreneurship” tournament.

It will be held Friday, November 16, at the Yakima County Fairgrounds. 

This is the fourth year of the program, spearheaded by CWU’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I4IE).

“Hundreds of regional high school students benefitted from previous tournament experience,” said Bill Provaznik, I4IE director. “They learned skills, like teamwork, and about universal business concepts, such as marketing and working in a competitive environment, that will eventually help them regardless of what they decide on for their careers.”

I4IE coordinates and conducts the annual, daylong event to encourage today’s students to learn how to become tomorrow’s entrepreneur.

“The tournament is for any student with an interest in design, business, or project management,” added Provaznik, who also serves as chair of the CWU College of Business (CB) Department of Management.

The competition involves student teams, assembled from among the various high schools represented, on the day of the competition, with the goal to help them learn about and develop the skills that entrepreneurs need.

“Entrepreneurs need to be able to communicate, collaborate, understand what people need, and try to develop solutions that are viable and make them valuable enough that customers will want to buy them,” Provaznik added. “The high school students get a chance to try their hands at all of those aspects in a live simulation. We also want students to meet and work with their peers from other schools as part of the event.”

The simulation involves developing pet-containment units, for about two-dozen “celebrity pet owners. They Edgar Allan Poe, with his raven; the Man with the Yellow Hat, and Curious George, the monkey; SpongeBob SquarePants, with his pet snail, Gary; and Emily Elizabeth, with Clifford the Big Red Dog.

“Our student entrepreneurs will need to find out who these pet owners are, and what their needs are, with respect to their pets, and then design and present their ideas for the best containment units,” Provaznik explained. “One of the big takeaways for them will be, when you look at a customer through that person’s eyes, you will be able to see things that they need that you can help with.” Each team will have jobs covering such areas as administration, design, marketing, purchasing, research, and “cross-functional coordinators,” Provaznik explained.

Half of each of the student teams will comprise the marketing unit. The other half will be product designers. They will have jobs covering such areas as administration, design, marketing, purchasing, research, and cross-functional coordinators.

“They’re separated because, in most organizations, there’s always a bit of a disconnection between the various units,” Provaznik explained. “We’re trying to provide the students a chance to really see what it’s like when everyone has good ideas, but those ideas aren’t the same. That always causes a little bit of conflict, so our College of Business student mentors will work with them to help the participants learn to communicate and negotiate to resolve their differences.”

In all, about 70 CWU students will be involved, many of them are enrolled in the CWU entrepreneurship program.

“They really enjoy working with the high school students, and helping them learn and use about marketing and design concepts, costing and finance, and develop basic communication skills,” Provaznik added.

The teams will be allowed a budget and can purchase items necessary for their prototypes, through the I4IE stocked “Acme Supply Store,” comprised of items at a dollar store or things left from previous competitions. Duct tape, boxes, and waterproofing.

“But we also have some components that have been designed by our CWU students that represent items like power packs, lighting, sound systems, watering units, computer processors, sensors, things like that,” Provaznik noted. “So, as the high schoolers settle on a design, they can use technology to distinguish their products from the competition and learn about the costs associated with that.”

At the tournament’s conclusion, the participating students will present their ideas to a panel of professional mentors and CWU students, who will provide constructive criticism and feedback. Awards will be made to students comprising the winning team.

The event is supported by the Herbert B. Jones Foundation.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,

Friday, November 9, 2018

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