In the past two years, APU has dedicated 10 weeks of each semester to teach, coach and mentor students interested in becoming entrepreneurs through a Shark Tank like competition called Zuventurez.
Zuventurez is designed to give students the opportunity to create, plan and execute a vision through the professional help of those in the field. In the process, students are to gain a kingdom focused compass. It is the time to dream, build and launch.
This semester’s Zuventurez kicked off on Tuesday, Sept. 13. Now in full swing, participants meet regularly every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. in Wilden Hall’s lecture hall.
The meetings start with the Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Jay Sherer, who is responsible for growing and directing the program alongside project manager and alumna Yuli Nagata Perez. Together they are supervised by Vocation, Innovation and Alumni vice president Annie Tsai, Ph.D., as well as Janice Orlando, a professor and chairman board of Innovation.
Sherer typically leads a discussion that occasionally features guest speakers and alumni. Sherer and the judges look for great ideas and solutions to real problems, which eventually culminate in a pitch competition.
Zuventurez helps students by offering a stage to generate, test and pitch their ideas for a professional business model, with the opportunity to win $15,000 to develop their idea.
The second place winner will get $3,000 and the third will win $2,000. The top three teams also get assigned mentors for six months after the competition to receive help developing their ideas.
“Zuventurez provides a way of connecting with students and networking is a very important thing,” said Christian Kama, a senior business management major.
APU’s desire for this competition is to create a diversity of teams with the involvement of business students to then begin the execution of their ideas.
Sherer believes that the best way to succeed is by thinking differently, gaining real experience and just getting out there and trying it. He hopes to give students the necessary tools to become the next business leaders.
“Most of the times, businesses fail because people aren’t testing them nearly enough, not thinking in the context of, ‘What do my customers really care about,’ or they just don’t have the business acumen to resource their idea,” Sherer said.
Christian Sanchez, a senior psychology major and last year’s finalist and founder of Urban Vinyl Headphones, believes that Zuventurez is a good way to prepare students who desire to take their idea out into the real world.
“[Zuventurez shows] you how to make a business plan and how to pitch your idea,” Sanchez said.
As an entrepreneur who started off struggling with an idea but later turned it into reality, Sanchez and his partner Seth Fontaine are returning from last year’s competition prepared. Although they joined late last year, they came with a prototype and business plan that was becoming successful.
Through their unique and innovative success, the duo not only made a return of investment but also gave back to the community by partnering with The Children’s Music Fund and fundraising over $12,000 last year.
Last year’s winner and previous nursing student, Maritza Grissom formulated a team to create the mobile application “PreceptMe,” which was intended to link health care students to preceptors.
Compared to last year, students and teams are now made aware of the judging criteria at the beginning of the competition. That criteria is having a solution that matches a problem, correct financial documents to showcase what they’re doing, a business model with the ability to scale, having kingdom impact and good design thinking with a great pitch.
Zuventurez is composed of undergraduate and graduate teams. This year, there are also alumni teams that are given the opportunity to participate too.
Zuventurez meets on Tuesday nights from 7:30-9:00pm in Wilden Hall’s lecture room.