It all started with an idea … and then a Tweet.

Junior Aaron Smith was selected last fall as a finalist for St. Louis University’s Pure Idea Generator Challenge, spending an afternoon atop the City Museum with 23 others as they pitched ideas to local entrepreneurs. The accounting major is a member of Missouri Southern’s Entrepreneurship Club.

“I heard about the contest through the club,” says Smith. “You had to tweet them and pitch an idea to St. Louis University’s entrepreneurship center. They picked the most original and creative ideas.” The parameters of the contest were to combine two existing technologies to create “the next big thing.”

“My idea was a water bottle that tracks how much water you drink and then syncs with your personal fitness device,” says Smith.

The finalists gathered on the museum rooftop and were given a new challenge by the mayor of St. Louis: Develop ideas for how the city can attract and retain graduates into the local job market. To get the creative juices flowing, the finalists developed ideas while riding in the museum’s three-story Ferris wheel.

“Our group came up with a work-for-tuition incentive program,” says Smith. “It would help reduce tuition rates while connecting students with local businesses. It would give them more of a connection to the city … more than just the place where they go to school.

“It was really cool, and the thing I took away was the importance of the pitch. We met with business leaders to find out what they’re looking for when they hear your pitch. It can be nerve-wracking, but if your idea is good enough, it’s a lot easier to stand behind it.”
Missouri Southern’s Entrepreneurship Club is now in its second year on campus.

“The club was created to promote entrepreneurship and what that means in today’s society,” says Ken Surbrugg who, along with Karen Bradshaw, serves as a staff advisor to the group.