On third Thursday of Block 5, the sixth annual Big Idea Competition of Colorado College was held. The five teams that participated ranged from hot sauce creators to inventors of applications that predict your life expectancy. This year, three of the teams were led by women, and two of the teams were led by college first-years. The grand prize was a $25,000 check that would act as seed money for the winning company.
The winning team, Chica Chocolate, is a company that infuses chocolates with Chinese herbs in order to soothe menstrual cramps. Their subscription-based service was awarded runner-up last year, and this year they were able to secure the title. “This year’s Big Idea win feels so special,” Cassidy Lam ’19, co-founder of Chica Chocolate, commented. “I was afraid of what it would mean for us if we didn’t take home the biggest check; would it indicate that our project is doomed to fail? That we are the only ones who still believe in Chica? But even if we hadn’t taken first place, I would have been thrilled to stand on that stage with our peers in innovation. I am proud to be part of the cultural shift that is taking place within Innovation at Colorado College. Last year we were the first women-led team to place, and this year we were among a women-led majority. It actually makes me giddy. Plus, Momentics and the team behind it are just so cool!”
Second place was awarded to Raw Sauce. This group created a delicious hot sauce from fermented foods. They place an emphasis on supporting small farmers as well as trying to break away from the type of industrial agriculture that can be harmful to the environment.
Third place was awarded to Momentics, another female-led team. This team specialized in creating foundational tools for young girls and boys to create their own Rube-Goldberg machines. With their win, this year’s Big Idea was the first time that the majority of winning teams were female.
One of the first-year-led teams featured Lauren Weiss ‘19. Before college, Weiss had developed an app that would tell the user their life expectancy. In the competition, she had partnered up with a senior to perfect her app and begin to making revenue from it. “I was really excited and motivated to do my best,” she said. “I think the competition is a great way for anyone interested in entrepreneurship to develop skills and learn the basics of forming a startup. I want to keep honing entrepreneurial skills and explore more about where my idea can go from here.”
The audience got actively involved at the competition. With a cheering competition at the end and a dance and bluegrass ensemble performance during the judge’s deliberation, the entertainment was continuous. “I think that all of the projects did a good job of encapsulating innovative ideas within products,” commented Tyler Sym ‘19, a member of the competition audience. “Each project seemed like a medium for the inventor to accomplish larger goals relating to ideas like sustainability, gender equality, and education. The best projects were the ones that could do that effectively while still making their product desirable for a target consumer base.”
With the success that past winning companies have post-competition, such as last year’s winner FlyPhone, this years winners Chica Chocolate, Raw Sauce, and Momentics have incredible potential and are certain to add to an excellent alumni network in the future.