Earlier this week, I represented the City of Dallas at the U.S. National Finals of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) competition. This year, the competition was held at Startup Grind in Redwood City, California.
This is the latest in my long series of competitions, and the competitors seriously made me fight for it. They are the 30 1st place student entrepreneurs from the regional GSEA competitions across the U.S. As the staff liked to note, “This is a room of winners.”
One of my favorite aspects of competitions is the diversity of leaders and businesses that they expose me to. Off the top of my head, I recall businesses involving a Vietnamese coffee brand, incentive awards for undistracted driving, animations for conflict mediation, tech-based company swag, and improved medical IV equipment.
Two entrepreneurs stuck out the most to me: Rachel Zietz of Gladiator Lacrosse (she started her company at 13 and appeared on Shark Tank at 15) and Mandeep Patel of ElecTrip (who went on to win 1st). I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t intimidated at all during the competition.
This competition was unique in that it emphasizes the entrepreneur more than the business. Thus, I had to reflect on my personal journey, challenges, drivers, and goals. It’s not often that I think deeply about myself, so this was a personal learning experience, as well.
At the end of the day, I advanced to top 5 finals and pitched again, taking home 2nd in the U.S. Even better, Mandeep (1st) represented Houston and Austin, so Texas dominated this year. Don’t mess with Texas, y’all.