From across the globe they traveled with charts, spreadsheets and presentations in hand, ready to be judged and weighed. Flying into the New York Stock Exchange from around the globe –Russia, Australia, Mexico, UK, South Africa, Canada, Malaysia – all with a single goal in mind: to be the 2011 Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year. Starting as a massive 1,600 nominations from 42 countries, the pool was narrowed to an elite group of 30 in just over 7 months. These young business whiz kids of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards took the competition by storm and when the dust settled, there was only one left standing, victorious over the rest: GSEA 2011 Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year, Ludwick Marishane. Currently in his last year at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, Marishane has won a $150,000 prize of cash and in-kind business services and a yearlong mentorship with Redbox founder, Mike DeLazzer.
Ludwick is the founder of HeadBoy Industries whose flagship product, DryBath emerged as the top student run business of 2011. DryBath, the world’s only bath substitute lotion for the whole body was inspired by Ludwick’s roommate who was often too lazy to take a shower. Launched in 2007, DryBath is now bringing a viable hygiene solution to millions of people with little or no access to clean water.
Several of the top ranking businesses of the competition proved beyond all doubt that the future of entrepreneurism is firmly entrenched in technology and socially conscious solutions. Innovation was theme of the evening as the judges awarded second place and special commendations.
Runner-Up: Garrett Gee, a Brigham Young University sophomore and the founder of Scan.me. The company provides custom QR codes along with other software solutions that help drive online traffic.
Lessons from the Edge Award: Jake Jorgovan, recent Belmont University graduate and founder of Rabbit Hole Creative, a provider of custom video design and production services for tours and events.
Social Impact Award: Matias Daniel Doublier, a student at Colegio Marianista and founder of Electryalg, provider of custom algae-based environmentally sustainable energy solutions.
Innovation Award: Dinesh Wadhwani, a senior at Babson College, two-time global finalist and founder of ThinkLite LLC, provider of energy efficient green lighting solutions for businesses.
The GSEA is produced by the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), a global network of more than 8,000 business owners in 40 countries. EO enables entrepreneurs to learn and grow from each other, leading to greater business success and an enriched personal life. The GSEA students were able to learn and network with these seasoned entrepreneurs that also comprised their judging panels.
The three day event was a grueling series of presentations, inquires and defenses of their business practices against the backdrop of the organized chaos of the New York Stock Exchange and the fury of the Occupy Wall Street protests. As the drama unfolded the business world was introduced to its future. Only one took home the grand prize but all the young entrepreneurs emerged stronger and wiser.