Brown School Students Win, Place in Big IdeaBounce

Public Health; Research; Social Work; Students

Often, an innovative idea starts with filling a need for one person and then extending that help to a wider audience. That’s what happened for three Brown School MSW students who took part in this year’s BIG IdeaBounce® competition.

Chase Breimeier started a mental health blog at the start of the pandemic to share his mental health experiences. He thought it might encourage other people on their journeys. He also enrolled in the Social Entrepreneurship class taught by Heather Cameron, Michael B. Kaufman Professor of Practice in Social Entrepreneurship. Cameron encouraged him to expand on his idea.

“I realized I could build out my blog to create a mental health platform for college students,” said Breimeier. That’s when he decided to enter the contest.

Olin’s BIG IdeaBounce® is a 2-minute-video elevator pitch contest open to all WashU students that encourages them to pursue original business ideas. Once contestants enter, they receive personal feedback from an experienced panel of judges on both their business proposal and pitch video. Winners can receive up to $2500 to fund their idea.

“I would definitely recommend the contest to anyone who is interested in creating a startup and looking to develop an idea beyond its infancy stages,” said Breimeier. He plans to use the $2500 grand prize to make his idea a reality.

MSW students Dani Ellis and Oluwabukola Apata also placed in the competition, earning $250 each for their ideas. 

Ellis caught the judges’ attention with All Bass. “I wanted to use drumlines to strengthen unity and connections in communities of color,” she said. The project will also help participants be expressive and cope with their lives. The drumline in a band, also known as a battery, is a percussion section of a marching band usually consisting of a snare line, tenor line, and a bass line. Ellis stated that the idea came from her own time as part of one.

Apata, MSW ’21, wants to take her project global and provide job mentorship for at-risk youths in Nigeria. “The ripple effect of flourishing businesses and stable jobs can create a reinforcing loop that develops low-income communities,” Apata noted.

All three students were nervous about entering. “I had never participated in any form of a business competition,” Ellis said. “The process allowed me to consider different models for my program as well as realizing all the resources available to assist me in launching my program.”

“I knew the competition would be quite strong,” Breimeier admitted. However, all three found the mentorship and feedback from the judges to be invaluable.

The student’s ideas reflect a mix of social entrepreneurship and enterprise that Cameron seeks to foster in her students. “I hope seeing the variety of projects that can win encourages students across campus to develop ideas that make a difference in people’s lives,” she said.  

Anyone interested in entering the Spring 2021 competition by March 31 is encouraged to contact Cameron “We are going to work together to help many more Brown School first-timers explore social business ideas and continue our winning streak!”

Visit the website for more information on the next round of competition. The prize pool is sponsored by NSIN, Olin’s Entrepreneurship Program, Skandalaris Center, and the Holekamp Seed Fund.