Friday, February 29, 2008

Rubber bands, relativity, and real lessons for entrepreneurs

In a week of events buzzing with entrepreneurial spirit, we've seen solutions to obesity, heard tips on handling media attention, and learned about social ventures. Those attending the closing ceremonies for E-Week tonight saw the creativity of their fellow students in a model of Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, a new way to raise money for breast cancer research, and...ShoeBands, "the latest in footwear adhesion."

These ideas (and many more) came in for this year's Innovation Tournament. The challenge: create as much value as possible using rubber bands.

Yes, rubber bands.

Big-time venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and technology writers judged the contest, and so students from around the world took it as an opportunity to show off their chops as entrepreneurs—and have fun at the same time. Take this example from a group with an idea for raising awareness about locally-grown food by tracking produce online:

Another group decided to create a "wishing tree" on the Stanford campus. Able to take from the flop profound lessons about success, the team earned the distinction of Biggest Failure—as well as a promise to have their video shown in business classes for years to come. "Like true entrepreneurs," they said, "we resorted to seeding the tree ourselves."

You can find more than a hundred video entries from the tournament on YouTube. Check Guy Kawasaki's blog for his take on the most innovative idea.

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