Student Entrepreneur Innovation on Display at EO GSEA Global Finals Competition
“Anyone who wonders where our world is going or how we will overcome our current challenges only needs to look at ‘studentpreneurs’ to know that our world is in good hands with the next generation of leaders” says Carrie Santos, CEO of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO). “Young student entrepreneurs impress us with their optimism and fearlessness in attacking the most serious issues of our day.”
The students who took part in EO’s annual Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) are no exception. They impressed the judges right through to the Global Finals, which were held virtually for the first time in the competition’s 22-year history.
On 30 July 2020, 50 finalists from 50 countries presented their pitch to a panel of judges in hopes of winning the top prize of US$25,000 in addition to products and services to support the growth of their company.
Tackling today’s challenges with innovation and determination
While attending college or university, these students founded companies that address some of the world’s obstacles.
Check out the winners from the 2020 GSEA competition and their inspiring companies:
· The gamification of physical therapy: Global champion Harvinder Power, representing the United Kingdom, co-founded Motics. His wearable invention engages patients during physical therapy and provides actionable insight into muscle function. Power anticipates great things from the technology, including the possibility of preventing injuries.
· All-natural horse care: First runner-up Kate Madden, representing Ireland, co-founded FenuHealth. The company produces all-natural supplements to ease gastric problems — which affect the majority of sports and racing horses. Kate was just 14 when she came up with the idea for FenuHealth with her sister, Annie.
· Simple and mobile water filtration: Second runner-up Omar Negron Ocasio was inspired to create his product when his Puerto Rico village was devastated by Hurricane Maria and didn’t have access to clean water. He founded Remora Inc., a water filtration device that is easily transportable and simple to install. Ironically, Omar gave his virtual presentation during yet another tropical storm over Puerto Rico. Omar also won the People’s Choice Award for his positive, can-do attitude.
Water, water everywhere
With water scarcity becoming an increasingly real threat for millions of people in the world, it makes sense that a number of this year’s GSEA competitors focused their efforts on creating new ways to provide clean, drinkable water.
In addition to Ocasio’s water filtration device, here are two other water-focused innovations featured in GSEA:
· Saving water: Muhammad Ali Khursheed from Pakistan received the Lessons from the Edge Award, which recognizes his commitment to improving his community. He founded Aabshar Solutions to promote sustainable living and assure water availability. His inspiration came in the form of severe liver damage which he developed due to a lack of available fresh water to drink. The company’s Water Optimizer installs on most faucets in seconds and can lower your water use by up to 85 percent.
· Drinking water: The winner of the Global Social Impact Award, Wong Shy Kit of Malaysia, founded Luminary. This organization is focused on establishing off-grid and autonomous systems to provide clean water for rural and disaster-prone communities. It relies on a solar thermal powered device named Light2O which distills rainwater or river water into drinkable water. Kit hopes to help the 140 million people across Southeast Asia and 2.1 billion around the globe who do not have access to clean water.
The first-ever virtual Global Finals
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 GSEA Global Finals competition was streamed on Facebook Live. EO members organized special sessions for the studentpreneurs to coach them on funding and business strategy, two functional areas that will help these talented students bring their ideas to the next level. In addition, the 50 global finalists had the opportunity to connect with their peers and share their personal experiences and concerns through a collaborative learning approach.
The finalists competed via a 10-minute pre-recorded presentation. For the Global Finals, the judges included:
· Derek Anderson, CEO and cofounder of Startup Grind
· Amaresh Ramaswamy, CFO at Microsoft India R&D
· Jorge Gomez, CEO at Ikon Investment Bank
· Jason Sze, EO Chair and group managing director at The AJ Mason Group
· Dave Preston, EO Charlotte member and president at People Suite
· Lynn Anstett, EO Cincinnati member and founder of Stett Transportation
· Dave Loaney, EO Arizona member and partner at Fresh Start Funding
One of many unique aspects about GSEA is that judges rate the entrepreneurs and their ability to confront and overcome the challenges of running a company — rather than the specific company itself.
Each student who made it to the intense Global Finals competition had already won their local, regional and national competitions. These talented entrepreneurs will undoubtedly go on to positively impact the world and achieve success.