Student Teams From Across Southeast Campus Prove Their Entrepreneurial Spirit in Competition



Dec. 10, 2008 – Five teams of students from Southeast Missouri State University not only imagined themselves winning $1,000 during the University’s Global Entrepreneurship Week Imagine It! Innovation Challenge; they actually beat out more than 50 other teams to achieve it.

“Imagine It! challenged the teams to prove their entrepreneurial spirit by using innovation and creativity to create as much value as possible from an assigned, everyday object, in this case, duct tape,” said Dr. James Stapleton, director of Southeast’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and the regional director of Global Entrepreneurship Week. “Value could be measured on any scale a team chose, but the value came from actually implementing their ideas and delivering results.”

Fifty-eight teams took part in the competition. Winners, who were selected in five categories, included the University Players, Student Organizations category; The Jeeps, Residence Hall Floor category; Lambda Chi Alpha, Greek Student Organizations category; Team Awesome, Student Body category; and Team JAC, People’s Choice category.

The winning teams ultimately found value in duct tape in a variety of ways, from addressing social issues to creating holiday decorations. While each team strove to use duct tape in a unique way, they varied in their approach.

Veselin Georgiev, a freshman computer science major from St. Louis, said his team, “The Jeeps,” defined innovation as finding an alternative use for duct tape while adding educational value.

“We thought large scale with our approach, and decided to use duct tape to help develop students’ interest in the fields of math and science,” Georgiev said.

Georgiev’s team, which proposed duct tape be added to school supply lists, suggested several innovative ways duct tape could be used in the classroom and encouraged teachers to use their creativity to develop additional opportunities.

Teams “JAC” and “University Players” both decided to use duct tape in a manner that would serve the greater good, although with different methods.

“We took all our initial ideas and chucked them, before deciding to ‘go green’ with duct tape,” said the University Players team leader Christina Vitale, a sophomore secondary speech and theatre education major from Saint Peters, Mo. “Anything that came easily to us would come easily to others as well, and we wanted to make sure our approach was unique.”

Vitale’s team demonstrated creative, tongue-in-cheek ways to save money and the environment by using duct tape for everything from vacuuming and cat toys, to repairing old clothes and books, to adding insulation and “locking” the thermostat and light switches.

Team JAC used duct tape to creatively promote depression awareness by encouraging students to cover their mouths with duct tape as a symbolic gesture showing they are good listeners for others who may be suffering from depression.

Ashley Woods, a junior accounting major from St. Louis and team leader, said her team stuck with ideas that had emotional appeal.

“We presented an issue that is prominent on college campuses, and we supported this cause by getting others to understand and reach out,” Woods said.

“Team Awesome” decided on yet another approach to the challenge by getting into the spirit of the holiday season.

“We decided to use duct tape in a way it hadn’t been used before,” said team leader Eric Kaysinger, a senior business management major from Bourbon, Mo.

Kaysinger’s team used various colors of duct tape to create holiday decorations, including a tree, ornaments, snowflakes, stockings and presents.

Team Lambda Chi Alpha also offered the idea that duct tape could promote unity on college campuses by mending social rifts if students used it to cover logos and organization names displayed on their shirts.

Despite the differences in their approach to the Imagine It! Challenge, each team agreed upon the importance of having an entrepreneurial mindset, no matter what career field they pursue.

“Being innovative is an important quality, and potential employers appreciate and understand that,” Georgiev said.

Entrepreneurial thinking is valued, even in fields not typically associated with entrepreneurship, according to Vitale.

“Theatre majors must always think of themselves as their own business,” she said. “We need to have an entrepreneurial mindset to sell our talents and skills.”

Even the simplest idea can have an impact, according to the students.

“It’s important to have the confidence to put your idea out there and set yourself up for failure, because it could be something great,” Woods said.

“One person’s small idea can turn into something incredible for a multitude of people,” Vitale added.

Because of the overwhelming success of the Imagine It! Innovation Challenge, plans are already under way for the second annual competition that will take place during Global Entrepreneurship Week next fall, according to Stapleton.

“We are already creating a list of possible ideas for the mystery object that will be used next year,” Stapleton said. “It was fantastic to see so many students interested in testing their creativity and innovation skills and to put those skills to work in a very entrepreneurial wayᾰmaking something out of nothing in a short amount of time.”

The winning videos can be viewed at:

University Players – Jeeps – Awesome – JAC – Chi Alpha –