By: Drew Henry
Each year, capstone students in the Clemson University MBA in Entrepreneurship & Innovation program participate in one of two competitions designed to showcase the real-world skills they’ve learned to launch their own businesses or innovate their current workplaces. The EnterPrize Awards and Innovation at Work competitions represent the culmination of student work on the program’s entrepreneurial and innovation tracks. The respective 2023 winners are Bill Murphy and Jonathan Stenbeck.
The EnterPrize Awards are a pitch competition and capstone course in which entrepreneurial-focused students present their business idea to an audience of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. The competition allows students to practice pitching while receiving feedback on their presentations.
Murphy won first place and a $15,000 cash prize in the EnterPrize Awards on June 1, 2023, with his pitch for Autistic Innovations, a tax-incentive staffing solution to secure job placements for people on the Autism spectrum.
“I have a son on the Autism spectrum who inspired this idea,” explains Murphy. “We were concerned about his job prospects after graduation and knew he was capable of so much more than what was being offered. While supporting him in this search, I realized many more individuals on the spectrum were facing the same challenges. I wanted to find a way to help match people with Autism with well-fit careers.”
Winning the competition came as a total shock, Murphy says. “The ideas this year were so fantastic, I was honored to even be in the running,” he continues. “I found out this idea touches so many people’s lives, and I’m excited to make a difference as I continue to develop this concept. The prize will be a tremendous help moving forward.”
Julian Brinkley, Ph.D., PMP, won second place and was awarded $3,000 for MyUI, and third-place winner Joseph Dillamore received $2,000 for Hardback.
MBAe students who instituted an intrapreneurial program or strategy within their organization participate in the Innovation at Work Competition. This capstone competition allows students to demonstrate how they applied classroom knowledge to develop real-world solutions to a panel of corporate executives, HR leaders and business owners.
Stenbeck won first place and a $3,000 cash prize in the Innovation at Work Competition on June 2, 2023, for his idea to change healthcare department staffing methods during labor shortages. His concept will help his organization, Prisma Health, increase capacity during low application periods by converting clinical departments into educational ones.
“My program is a solution to help staff my department through the educational component of a residency,” explains Stenbeck. “Universities can easily create resident programs because they have the staffing and trained roles to do so. However, it is much harder for private institutions to produce because current employees don’t have the resources or time to design a curriculum.”
For Stenbeck, his win is a fun and rewarding way to conclude the MBAe program. “It was exciting to win,” he says. “So many good ideas came from our cohort, and anyone in the group could have won. What really made this experience rewarding was seeing people from so many backgrounds come together to further improve and develop our ideas.”
Innovation at Work Competition finalists were second-place winner, Elizabeth Fildes, awarded $2,000, and third-place winner Mackenzie Flanigan, who received $1,000.
Learn more about Clemson’s MBA in entrepreneurship and innovation.
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