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ERLC Hosts UW-Madison’s Annual 100-Hour Challenge

by Sari Judge Thursday, December 22, 2016

ERLC 100 Hour Challenge490

On November 10-14 of this past year, the Entrepreneurial Residential Learning Community (ERLC), sponsored by the Wisconsin School of Business, hosted its annual 100-Hour Challenge, a signature entrepreneurial event on UW-Madison’s campus.

The contest challenges participating students, the majority of whom are undergraduates, to create a new product with either revenue or social value over a long weekend using cast off materials from UW-Madison’s Surplus with a Purpose (SWAP).

The contest kicks off in the main lounger of Sellery Hall when teams of students come together to rifle through table after table stacked high with salvaged items like discarded test tubes, junked bicycle wheels and enough wire cable to stretch from the dorm to Memorial Union. Then, after picking the “treasures” they want to work with, contestants spend a long weekend transforming their items into new products which they pitch to a panel of outside judges via a video or narrated slide deck. The entries are evaluated in three categories: most potential revenue value, most potential social value and creativity.

According to John Surdyk, Faculty Director for the ERLC, students engaged in the challenge often develop or pursue an idea, stumble, and then think of ways to work around those obstacles. “That kind of perseverance is really important if you want to be successful as an entrepreneur,” says Surdyk. “It’s fantastic to be creative, but it’s just as important to be persistent, and this competition really highlights both these traits.”

Historically, the projects the students enter are truly innovative, and 2016 was no exception.  This year’s 100-Hour Challenge winners demonstrate ingenuity, smart marketing skills and, in some cases, a real sense of humor.

2016 100-Hour Challenge Winners

With $400 dollars going to each of the winning teams (the tied teams received $300 dollars each) the contest represents an incredible opportunity for students looking to get their feet wet in the always exciting world of innovation contests. Says Surdyk, “This is the perfect contest for students experimenting. The 100-Hour Challenge is small enough to manage, but big enough to matter.”