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Students Create Value to Their Own Beat

Interdisciplinary Collaboration Leads to Third Place at Innovation Challenge
Students Create Value to Their Own Beat
Elise Raymond, Cassidy Puatu and Deep Patel (left to right) capitalized on one another’s strengths to take home third place at the Innovation Challenge.
What can you do with Post-It Notes to create the most value possible? The question left student teams at the Innovation Challenge at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln scrambling to create a project centered on producing the greatest value using the office supply item in whatever way they defined “value”. 

Leaving the kickoff with their single pack of sticky notes, Deep Patel, Cassidy Puatu and Elise Raymond sat in wonderment on how they would create value from the small sheets of paper over a single weekend. The possibilities on what could be done left Patel feeling invigorated, as he strived for moments like this.

“Innovation is what I live for. A challenge like this where you have to create value out of sticky notes is the definition of innovation to me. Taking something and changing it into something else. I like using my strengths to help my team move forward,” said Patel, a senior finance major from Francistown, Botswana.

The three wanted to create value in a way no other team would. With different ideas discussed, they decided to utilize their unique backgrounds. Raymond, a senior marketing major form Seward, Nebraska, used her minor in music technology to compose a song from sounds her team gathered from other students using the Post-It Notes.

Raymond, Puatu and Patel (left to right) worked together to create music made from sticky notes.
Raymond, Puatu and Patel (left to right) worked together to create music made from sticky notes.
“Our differing educational backgrounds provided us with different perspectives on the challenge. We worked with our own strengths to create the most innovative results. Our unconventional solution to creating value came from our different backgrounds. Having two team members who have engineering experience and someone in education, we were able to approach innovation in a different way,” she said. 

Heading the challenge, Dr. Samantha Fairclough, associate director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, welcomes this type of collaboration in all avenues of entrepreneurship.

“We asked students to use their creativity, curiosity and competitive skills to solve a problem or create value. In other words, we asked them to tap into or develop what we call the ‘entrepreneurial mindset’: identifying opportunities, creative thinking, a tolerance for ambiguity and experimentation, and the creation of new forms of value. We also encouraged students to work with their peers from other majors, colleges and backgrounds because diverse perspectives help with creativity and open up new networks and resources,” she said.

As the non-business major of the team, Puatu walks past the College of Business’ Guiding Principles each week on her way to an entrepreneurship class. Although not a business major, the principle Ask Bold Questions resonated with her as she collaborated with Nebraska Business students in the challenge.

“Our whole thing was going in a starkly different direction than everyone else, and I think that was the big leap for our team. While our idea was not the winning one, I think it resonated with the judges and the audience. The bold questions we asked ourselves and the different direction stuck, even though it wasn't the best or most flawless presentation or idea out there,” she explained.

Even though first place eluded the team, Raymond enjoyed the process throughout, and having the ability to use her talents outside of business and mix them into the competition. The announcement of their third place victory was music to their ears.

“Being able to use my music technology minor in the challenge was a huge plus. I always enjoy being able to share my passion for music and thinking outside of the box and I think that was true for the rest of the team. When we can use our passions in the creation of a project, the outcome is better, whether it is math, music or anything else,” said Raymond, a past winner of the Innovation Challenge.

The winning teams of the challenge include:

First Place (tie):
  • Sam Lilly, freshman business administration major from Omaha, Nebraska
  • Max Van Arsdall, junior finance major from Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Alex Zlatic, freshman actuarial science major from Bloomington, Illinois
First Place (tie):
  • Adam Folsom, sophomore business administration major from Omaha
  • Gunnar Millot, junior management and marketing major from Rhinelander, Wisconsin
  • Jordan Seitz, supply chain management major from Gregory, Michigan
To listen to the song created, visit:

To learn more about the Center for Entrepreneurship and its events, visit:
Published: October 8, 2019