July 12, 2016

Big Idea Challenge calling all creative minds

The Patrick Henry Community College IDEA Center is calling all creative minds. It’s hosting its first competition allowing entrepreneurs to draft and build a prototype of their business or product for a chance to win a prize package. WSLS 10 learned how the competition could help boost the economy.

Martinsville native and entrepreneur Randy Ferguson is a kayak enthusiast. A hobby that started years ago now has Ferguson hoping to build and market one of his own creative ideas, a kayak storage accessory.

“I have an idea of it in my head,” said Ferguson. “I can see what I want to do, at least a couple different versions of it. But, I want to come here and see what they can do to help me make it real.”

That’s where the Big Idea Challenge comes into play for Ferguson and other contestants at the Patrick Henry Community College IDEA Center.

Come September, 12 applications will be picked to move forward in the competition. Those entrepreneurs will have 30 days to use the IDEA Center Technology lab, staff and will be connected to other local business owners for guidance to create a prototype.

At the end of it all, a panel of community leaders will judge each business plan and product pitch for a chance to win a prize package of services and opportunities, such as design/engineering class at PHCC and a booth at Martinsville’s Fast Track Trade Show, valued at more than $5,000.

“If someone has an idea for a product, that idea could turn into a company that creates jobs; it can also turn into an opportunity for them to take their product to market,” said Tiffany Underwood, the Spokesperson at the Idea Center.

Underwood who is overseeing the competition, said the challenge is aimed to inspire entrepreneurship and job growth in the Martinsville community. Other business owners told us it’s an action much needed.

“With the loss of textiles, furniture and the jobs that went away really in the 90’s and early 2000’s, it’s been critical for our area to re-calibrate, find new jobs and new innovation,” said President and CEO David Stone of Solid Stone Fabrics.

The challenge deadline for applications is August 5th.

Ferguson is hopeful his pitch will make a big enough splash that he comes away the winner.