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Valerie Bell, assistant professor of management

Valerie Bell, assistant professor of management

JOSEPH STASIO, associate professor and chair of marketing, and VALERIE BELL, assistant professor of management, are working together to bring a campus-wide student entrepreneurial competition to Merrimack.

The Great Ideas Competition—which is open to all students, regardless of area of study—invites students to join in the running for the best business venture, with a top prize of $3,000.

What started as a small team competition in Stasio’s class for  the last three years morphed into a much larger competition this year when Bell, who assigned her international entrepreneurship students to create new ventures for a foreign market, asked Stasio to pool entrepreneurial efforts.

“The Great Ideas Competition brings students from all different majors across Merrimack’s campus together for the first time, to turn some of their great ideas and inventions into real, new business opportunities which may drive the economy in the future,” said Bell. “It also gives our students true hands-on experience with actual business challenges that they may face  in other careers they may enter in the future. It’s experiences  like this that make Merrimack different from other colleges.”

The competition has attracted over 20 teams made up of two to six Merrimack students, and the business faculty  provides mentoring support for all of the teams throughout the competition.

Each team created a 60-second pitch of their new venture idea at the end of February, and a miniature business plan and a 10-minute PowerPoint presentation by April 30. Each student team will then compete on May 6, where a team of external judges made up of bankers, angel investors and successful entrepreneurs from the Greater Andover area will select the finalists. On May 8, those finalists will compete for the prizes—the first-place winners will receive $3,000, second place $2,000 and third place $1,000.

“The purpose of the competition is to bring the subject of entrepreneurship to life for students so they experience what it is like to try to take an idea to market,” said Stasio. “By presenting their work to professional bankers, entrepreneurs and other professional business people, they receive ‘real world’ feedback about their efforts. As business students, there is probably no better way to bring their studies to life than through challenges like this one. As an instructor, it is most gratifying to witness the transformation of students as they engage in the process  and live with the results.”

Valerie Bell earned a Ph.D. in management, and an M.Sc. in international business and emerging markets from the University of Edinburgh. Her research interests are international entrepreneurial opportunities and internationalization processes, and the acquisition of knowledge in multinational firms in the food and pharmaceutical industries.

Joseph Stasio earned a B.S.B.A. from Salem State College, and an M.B.A. and A.P.C. at Suffolk University. He is also a Certified Marketing Professional. His research interests and publication record involve all aspects of marketing and entrepreneurship with an emphasis on start-ups and strategic planning for new and growing organizations.