Calling all student entrepreneurs

Dell - Powering the Possible

Dell is a company built on the belief that a student with an idea can change the world. Almost 30 years ago, our company was founded in a dorm room.

Through our work with the Dell Social Innovation Challenge, we seek to assist other university entrepreneurs as they bring to life their business models for social good. The 2013 challenge will award more than $350,000 in prizes to help launch their companies.

 We want your ideas. If you or a university student you know — from any school in any country — has an idea that can change the world, visit to register your project. Entries for the 2013 challenge close Jan. 28. Participants immediately receive access to a global community of like-minded students, mentors and advisers, as well as training and educational resources to help turn their ideas into impacts.

Last year’s winners, Essmart Global, are proof that this network can serve as a launch pad for social innovation. The company’s founders, Jackie Stenson and Diana Jue, have re-engineered the logistics and supply chain to give rural retail shop owners in India access to better products that improve their customers' lives — including technologies such as solar-charged lamps and cleaner cooking stoves.

You can follow their journey here, but as an update: 

“We’ve been excited by the early successes that we’ve achieved. A few months ago, we had an empty office space, one employee, and no sales. Now we have a busy office with five employees, we’ve sold 300+ products, and we’ve watched how the products in our catalogue are actually changing lives and improving businesses. We have customers, revenue and proof that our model works.

 “We’ve also got a long way to go in building this business. We have the day-to-day hills that we climb, such as navigating the Indian legal landscape, or developing a more robust data collection system. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily hurdles, but we always refer back to our grand vision: Essmart as the channel where thousands of local retail shops can improve their businesses and millions of households can access products that improve their lives. Distribution is the first step, but our dream is to build up the entire technology-for-development ecosystem by encouraging suppliers to design better products, and commercialize more products.” 

(Please visit the site to view this video)

 In February, we’ll narrow down entries to a group of promising semifinalists, who will fine-tune their ideas with mentorship, support and judging from Dell team members and the Dell Social Innovation Challenge network. I’m proud to say that last year, more than 600 Dell team members volunteered their time to help in this endeavor; this year, we expect even more.

 Finalists will travel to Austin in May to pitch their ideas and compete for the grand prize. Stay tuned as we embark on the 2013 Dell Social Innovation Challenge!

About the Author: Michele Glaze