The Center for Entrepreneurship is hosting its annual HawkTank’23 competition next semester to encourage campus-wide student entrepreneurship.
HawkTank is a University-wide event in which undergraduate and graduate students from all schools can submit an entrepreneurial idea. Those selected as finalists will present to a team of judges for a chance to win a cash prize to invest in furthering that idea.
In preparation for presenting to the judges, the finalists will receive one-on-one coaching through the center, gain mentorship, develop a pitch, and learn how to take their product or service from an idea to something marketable.
Alison Gilbert, the Director for the Center of Entrepreneurship, highlighted the Center’s goal for HawkTank, “It’s to inspire and ignite entrepreneurial energy and activity at Monmouth.”
Prior to joining Monmouth this summer and over the last 15 years, Gilbert has worked in a variety of roles, all of which were founded in entrepreneurship, startups, and community building.
“Gilbert began scaling businesses in New York City as the Chief Operating Officer of food media company Tasting Table where she helped grow it into a forty person, multi-million-dollar business. After that, she went on to help scale media company Well+Good from their founding two-person team to their first fifteen people and million dollars in revenue,” said Raj Devasagayam, Ph.D., Dean of the Leon Hess Business School, via his email announcement to the campus community in July.
Additionally, Gilbert is the founder and leader of Project AG, a business strategy studio that helps women entrepreneur transform their vision into growth.
According to Gilbert, entrepreneurship holds three distinct constants: it is a muscle, an art form, and a vehicle for systematic change.
She started, “While some people are more drawn to the entrepreneurial path, what makes entrepreneurs who they are is their ability to experiment, pursue innate curiosity, trust themselves, and, more importantly, trust the process.” Gilbert believes that anyone can cultivate the necessary skills to succeed through intention and practice.
“Entrepreneurship is also an art form, and business is the medium. By drawing on this idea, we have the opportunity to shift the definition of business from being purely bottom-line to an art that cultivates connection and drives transformation,” continued Gilbert.
To finish off her analysis of entrepreneurship, Gilbert said, “Through entrepreneurial endeavors and by adapting an entrepreneurial mindset, we can embody the values and practices on a micro level to integrate into our culture and systems change on a macro one.”
John Buzza, MA, Senior Specialist Professor and Founder of the Center of Entrepreneurship, has his own hopes for how Gilbert’s values will come to life in the Center.
“The Center was quite innovative in to teaching entrepreneurship years ago. My hope is that we can once again be on the cutting edge of change moving forward,” reflected Buzza.
In regard to HawkTank, Buzza said, “It’s a great competition that gives our students an opportunity to raise awareness of their business ideas and win some dollars to support their initiatives.”
Although Buzza was the founder of the center, Joseph McManus, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair for the Department of Management and Leadership, founded HawkTank when he previously served as director.
“HawkTank provides an environment that enables students to get into the process of planning out their ideas in preparation for their final pitch while having fun,” concurred McManus.
When McManus ran the competition, he saw students from all over the University participate. “We had students pitch their current businesses, ones that their family owned, and ideas born from students’ classes. The whole purpose of the competition was to reach beyond the four corners of the Leon Hess Business School,” explained McManus.
Gilbert detailed several advantages to students’ participation. “This is a great opportunity for budding entrepreneurs and/or entrepreneurially curious students to gain experience in business planning, pitch development, public speaking, and grow their network with fellow peer entrepreneurs, faculty, mentors and judges,” she said.
Sabrina Strekman, senior business student and Development Coordinator for the Center of Entrepreneurship, encourages students to involve themselves despite whatever hesitancy they may have.
“You may be feeling a lot of uncertainties about your idea and the competition in general. Throughout the competition, the Center, mentors, and judges will all be behind you to support the cultivation of your pitch. HawkTank is a great opportunity to make some memories at Monmouth and take advantage of whatever resources and experiences you can while you’re here.”
McManus agreed, “In any career a student pursues, the idea of building a business, whether from the ground-up or internally, is essential. Growth and new business innovations are not only expected, but encouraged. This competition is for the entire community to connect and inspire one another.”