The 2024 West Virginia Innovation and Business Model Competition (WVIBMC) will mark the sixth year of competition. The competition is hosted by Marshall University and the Lewis College of Business and the Brad D. Smith Schools of Business and overseen by faculty for Entrepreneurial Education.
The WVIBMC places particular focus on identifying significant problems and developing problem-solution fit through customer feedback and field research. Using design thinking as a guide for experimentation through hypothesis-testing of key assumptions, students interact with potential customers to collect information and data for evaluation and decision-making purposes. Evidence-based decision-making improves the likelihood of success in identifying a significant problem, ideating an impactful solution, and implementing a scalable business model.
The inaugural (2019) WVIBMC event was inspired by the Innovating for Impact Design for Delight Innovation Challenge in 2017 and the Business Model Competition Global sponsored and hosted by Brigham Young University. Despite the challenges of a global pandemic, each iteration of the competition has attempted to broaden the impact of the methodologies and best practices borrowed from the most successful entrepreneurial ecosystems across the globe. Accordingly, the adoption and utilization of design thinking as a means for (i) empathizing with customers to define their problems, (ii) iterating in a divergent-to-convergent manner to form a plan of experimentation, and (iii) rapidly experimenting to quickly fail (and succeed) helps equip experienced and inexperienced startups with a structure and format to improve the likelihood of success. Through design thinking and the use of a canvas (as a scorecard), students are better equipped to create value, deliver value, and capture value and discover an opportunity that is desirable, viable, and feasible.
Intuit’s impact and influence on the WVIBMC is notable, especially for the speed by which these methods and practices were taught and implemented. In late March 2017, seven interdisciplinary teams were formed from the Marshall University student pool. An innovation team from Intuit, Inc. traveled to Huntington, WV and taught its variation of design thinking and its customer-centered approach to innovation: Design-for-Delight (D4D). Teams were challenged with applying these innovation techniques to three specific problems facing West Virginia: youth education, substance use disorders, and technology. Approximately four-weeks later, in April 2017, the seven teams presented their problem-solving solutions to a panel of celebrity judges in the style of the popular reality TV show “Shark Tank.” The celebrity coaches were Marshall alumnus Brad D. Smith, former Intuit CEO and Executive Chairman and current Marshall University President, Marshall and NFL football legend Chad Pennington, and actress, producer, and philanthropist Jennifer Garner.
This multi-institutional, collaborative event is made possible with the generous support of the Robert E. Yancey, Sr. Entrepreneurship Endowment.