The $5 Challenge

Aspiring Entrepreneurs Use Money to Make Money

In his “Risks and Rewards of Entrepreneurship” course, management professor Timothy Folta gave student groups $5 and told them to use it as start-up cash for a new business. The project was designed to spur creativity around new business ideas.

Students had one week to brainstorm ideas, but once they received the cash, they had only two hours to make as much money as possible.

Interestingly, the group that made the most money did not even use the start-up funds.

Upperclassmen Zachary Maitland, Sut (Celina) Kou, Adam Lefkowitz and Yuanwen John Liang “sold’’ their three-minute presentation time to a company called Barefoot Student. The company collects resumes and sells them to employers around the world.

Because the founders, Erin and Justin Metzger, live in Maui, Hawaii, the student group presented the information the company requested and, in return, earned $300.

Students knew it was a risky gamble, because out of the 40 or 50 companies the students reached out to, only one company was interested in the time slot. Maitland also said there was a little hesitation because he didn’t know if the professor would accept their project.

“But, part of the challenge is to challenge hidden assumptions,” Maitland said. “It’s a huge assumption that you just have to use the one material (the $5) and not the other (the presentation time).”

Maitland recently started a club at UConn, called “Dreamers and Achievers,” which joins together students with varying skill sets who have an idea and want to make it happen.

Another group used its $5, but focused on the valuable resource of time, Folta said.

Suzan Talo, Jakub Szczygielski and Laura Williams, also upperclassmen, offered sober driving for UConn students on a weekend night. Williams put $5 worth of gas in her car’s tank and drove for two hours. Although the group only made $44, the lesson was learned.

“The group was not constrained by monetary resources,” Folta said. “Instead, they used their knowledge of college students and creativity to complete the project.”

“Some people look on moneymaking with disdain, because you have to take from somebody else to gain,” Maitland said. “But really, you create wealth, and you create opportunity. You can have win-win situations, and that’s what a good business person does.”

Folta thought the exercise was a success.

“In general, I think the students were inspired by what they could accomplish,” Folta said. “It’s just another way to give them practice in the classroom, which is especially critical for entrepreneurship.”

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Addthis