"American Idol" for business.
One segment of the program is a student business concept competition. 27 student teams from around our region submitted one-page concept documents in the first stage of the competition. After two rounds of preliminaries, the field will be reduced to three finalists. Those teams will do live, stand-up presentations before a panel of judges and a room full of spectators on April 2. They will deal with both questions and criticism in public.
This is not a revolutionary program by any means. Universities around the world have been hosting similar events for years. It's a great learning experience, and not just for the student teams. Non-competitors who go to observe the public finals receive meaningful vicarious mentorship as the panelists point out to the teams how their concepts and their presentations might be strengthened.
In our particular case, the morning student competition will be followed in the afternoon by serious attempts by real-live entrepreneurs to convince angel investors to support their ventures - again, in public. Two regional organizations that are deeply engaged in early stage investing processes will bring together pre-screened company founders and highly-qualified investors in a "Live-Fire" funding event. Vicarious mentorship for prospective entrepreneurs doesn't get more useful than this.
This is where the founders' Market, Magic, Model, Message, and MOXIE get the ultimate Mentor test.
When events of this type hit your town, spend a few bucks and go sit in. The payoff may well be more valuable than years of business class tuition. (Just don't tell the professors I said that.)