The impressive innovations of the students at the North-West University (NWU) took centre stage during the recent Leopards Lair competition, earning the innovators well-deserved recognition and sought-after prizes.
This year marked the NWU’s sixth Leopards Lair competition. It is held annually to encourage and support student entrepreneurship.
Mothekgi Maruman, an honours-degree student in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, and Tshegofatso Modisakeng, an undergraduate student from the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, took first place in the postgraduate and undergraduate categories respectively.
Yolandé Bullock, office and quality manager at the NWU’s Technology Transfer and Innovation Support Office (TTIS), says the competition is a collaborative effort between the bhive Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) business incubator and the NWU's TTIS.
“The competition provides a meaningful learning experience to NWU students who are interested in pursuing new venture creation as an alternative to traditional employment or as a way to gain experiential business development experience.”
To the top of the Leopards Lair
“The competition takes place over three rounds during which the best entries are identified,” explains Mrs Annelie Steenkamp, senior project administrator at the bhive EDC, who managed the Leopards Lair programme.
The first round entails NWU students presenting their business ideas, unique selling points and resources via an entry form. During this round, the judges choose 20 student entries for each campus that progress to the next round.
During the second round, the semi-finalists attend two workshops. These workshops are the Idea to Concept Development workshop and the Business Model Generation workshop. After this, the students have to submit their business models, which are assessed by the bhive EDC panel. Ten students per campus progress to the next round.
In the third round, participants attend a group presentation skills training session, followed by one-on-one pitch review sessions aimed at helping the finalists to polish their pitches. These culminate in a grand finale pitching competition before a panel of expert judges by the top five in each category.
The winners’ prizes include seed funding to develop their business, and bhive EDC business incubation (from six to 12 months, depending on the winning order).
“We are really excited about next year, and what exciting projects the student entrepreneurs will submit,” said Dr Janine Chantson, chief director of the TTIS, who was a key sponsor of the initiative this year.
For more information on the Leopards Lair competition, visit: Home | Commerce (nwu.ac.za)
Encouraging student entrepreneurship
Leopards Lair is only one of the NWU’s initiatives promoting entrepreneurship and innovation.
Another initiative organised by the NWU’s TTIS and bhive EDC, the Market Day, was held during the NWU’s Student Entrepreneurship Week (25 October in Vanderbjilpark and 26 October in Potchefstroom) to encourage entrepreneurs to sell their items. Exhibitors offered a range of products that included handmade items, and beauty and health and wellness products.
And the winners are … (Johann Landsberg, manager of the bhive EDC handed the prizes to the winners.)
Mothekgi Maruma, an honours-degree student in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, took first place in the postgraduate category with his entry, Supersight.co.za.
In the postgraduate category, Paula Maseko, a master’s-degree student in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, was second with the Hydra Comb entry, and Almaro de Villiers, a master’s-degree student in the Faculty of Engineering, was third with his custom-made cookie cutters.
Tshegofatso Modisakeng from the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences took first place in the undergraduate category with Midgets World.
PJ Linde from the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences and Lungile Maseko from the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences were respectively second and third in the undergraduate category with their entries – a portable carwash (PJ) and Tutor Me (Lungile).