Some young entrepreneurs recently competed in a unique contest. Clarkson University, located in New York, invited individuals with a small business idea to compete to win tuition to the school - a prize worth more than $37,000 per year, according to CNN.
Competitors in the university's Young Entrepreneurs and Innovators Competition presented their business ideas to a panel of experts in order to earn the scholarship money. In exchange, the school will purchase a 10 percent stake in each of the winning firms.
"This competition is aligned perfectly with the educational mission of Clarkson, which has a long-standing tradition of creating entrepreneurially-minded business leaders who understand how to develop a successful business, harness innovative technologies and build opportunities for commercialization in the marketplace," said Clarkson president Tony Collins.
In addition to covering the cost of tuition, the winners will receive valuable small business advice, guidance and support from faculty and alumni mentors. They will also use Clarkson business incubator office space, while pursuing their undergraduate degrees.
In order to qualify, contestants submitted a completed business plan, a 90-second video and a brief description of their company. During the competition, five finalists had 15 minutes to pitch their idea and 15 minutes of questions from the panel of judges.
Two winners were chosen. College junior Hanna Hladkik's business idea, Feels Like Home Inc., is a Web-based company that will provide foreigners living in the U.S. access to their favorite foods and products from their home countries.
"Today, many students come to the U.S. to study for a few years, or even a semester, and many of them would like to expand their shopping choices in rural areas, which often have only a small international presence," said Hladkikh. "Feels Like Home will supply the value and comfort that will enable them to have products they appreciate and value while they are away from home."
She will have the remainder of her tuition paid for and will be able to work to grow her business under the tutelage of her advisors.
The other winner, high school senior Paul Hyman, proposed a company that designs innovative and creative technologies for emergency responders and improves home appliance safety. He will begin as a freshman at Clarkson in the fall, tuition-free.
"To be able to get my business off the ground while receiving my education - this is an amazing opportunity," Hyman told CNN.
This innovative program was established in September 2010.