9th Annual Elevator Competition Opens New Bank of Elevators to Social Entrepreneurship

3.3.2008 Entrepreneurship, News Release, School News

Thirty percent of the applications for last year’s annual Elevator Competition at Wake Forest University’s Babcock Graduate School of Management could have fallen under the heading of social entrepreneurship.

As a result, a second set of elevators will be added specifically for socially minded entrepreneurs at this year’s ninth annual event, scheduled for March 28-29 at the Wachovia building in downtown Winston-Salem.

In this year's competition, a second set of elevators has opened for socially minded ventures.

In another first, undergraduate as well as graduate teams from top universities across the country will compete, pitching ideas that solve a pressing social need based on the triple bottom line: economic, environmental and social.

“The field is really expanding, and we wanted to provide an avenue for those great social entrepreneurship teams to win,” says Stan Mandel, director of the Angell Center for Entrepreneurship and executive professor of entrepreneurship at the school. “At Babcock, social entrepreneurship and social change are becoming part of our identity. Introducing a new competition for social entrepreneurship was a natural fit for both the Elevator Competition and our school.”

Like those participating in the traditional MBA business plan competition, social venture teams will have a two-minute elevator ride during which to pitch their ideas to venture capitalists. Pitch finalists will give a 20-minute presentation to a panel of venture capitalists, and the winners will receive cash awards and professional services to help turn their ideas into reality. The total value of cash and prizes could reach up to $110,000, Mandel says.

The competition will feature 14 teams in social entrepreneurship and 12 teams in the for-profit field. Schools represented include the University of Chicago, Columbia University, the University of Michigan, New York University, the University of North Carolina and Wake Forest, among others. Each competing team receives $1,000 just for making its pitch.

Being co-chair for the Elevator Competition has been an incredible learning experience for Neela Rajendra, a member of the 2008 full-time MBA class.

“In addition to the normal leadership challenges, our decision to create an additional competition for social entrepreneurship made for a steep learning curve,” she said. “Suddenly we had to become proficient in what it means to be a social entrepreneur and understand what it takes to have an effective and successful social venture.”

Related articles and information

  • Read a blog by the Elevator Competition Committee as they prepare for the event
  • Elevator Competition Website
  • Watch a video on YouTube about the Wake Forest Elevator Competition (Read about the director Jeff Giordano in a blog entry hosted by The New York Times entitled Sometimes Networking Is Just Saying Hello)
  • <a data-cke-saved-href="http://www.mba.wfu.edu/apps/galleries/index.cfm?ID=30" href="http://www.mba.wfu.edu/apps/galleries/index.cfm?ID=30" onclick="popup" =="" window.open('http:="" www.mba.wfu.edu="" apps="" galleries="" index.cfm?id="30'," 'popuppage',="" 'height="600,width=880,scrollbars=yes,resizable=yes');" return="" false"="" onkeypress="popup = window.open('http://www.mba.wfu.edu/apps/galleries/index.cfm?ID=30', 'PopupPage', 'height=600,width=880,scrollbars=yes,resizable=yes'); return false" target="site_ext_window">View a photo gallery from the 2007 Elevator Competition
  • Elevator Competition on Wikipedia