Ideas Guy

Submitted by Villanova

"Go for it."

Everyone he consulted-faculty, alumni, administrators-gave Ron Warzoha '08 COE, '09 MS the same advice.

So in the summer of 2009, he went for it.

Within weeks, Warzoha and fellow grad student Tim Montalbano '08 COE, '10 MS raised funds in excess of $15,000. That was more than enough to launch the inaugural Villanova Social Entrepreneurship Competition (VSEC).

The competition was tailor-made by Villanovans for Villanovans. It gave students the chance to pitch ideas for new products and services that would benefit society, especially developing countries, to alumni entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. The return: sound feedback and, for the winners, a cash prize to take their ideas to the next level.

Three competitions later, VSEC has grown exponentially. Record numbers of student teams are submitting proposals (VSEC now stands for Villanova Student Entrepreneurial Competition), and alumni are stepping up in a huge way, mentoring teams, lending expertise, sponsoring the annual event and donating thousands of dollars in in-kind services.

Whenever he gets a break from his doctoral research, Warzoha thinks about how to expand students' entrepreneurial opportunities, including summer fellowships and participation in national competitions. These are possibilities he can easily imagine.

What he can't imagine is how he and Montalbano could have pulled it off anywhere else.

"We never would have been able to create something so big in such a short time without the enthusiasm of faculty and administrators," Warzoha says. "At Villanova, everyone encourages you to be innovative. I wouldn't trade being here for anything in the world."