ST. LOUIS – Washington University in St. Louis Engineering Student, Sarah Haselkorn, opened Green Bean, a fast-casual, sustainable salad and wrap restaurant in the Central West End during her junior year. On November 15th, 2012, she competed in the global finals of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, along with 29 other finalists from around the world.
The competition received 1100 nominations from 42 countries on 6 continents. The 30 regional winners continued on to New York to compete in the semi-final and final presentations. Haselkorn competed in Detroit back in September to earn her spot in the finals.
The competition places each finalist in front of a panel of judges from the organization, where they are given 12 minutes to present, and 8 minutes to answer questions from the panel. The entrepreneurs are asked to describe their business, as well as their commitment to entrepreneurship and their ability to overcome challenges. The competition is as much about the entrepreneur as it is about the venture, if not more about the founder. Students also participate in break-out sessions throughout the conference to work on presentation skills and to learn from successful entrepreneurs. The winner of the competition receives over $150,000 in prizes.
As for Haselkorn, she presented on what it is like to run a brick and mortar business while attending school. She has taken on a lofty endeavor, but competitions like this one in New York provide connections, advice, and opportunities that are invaluable to a student entrepreneur. “The opportunity was a prize in itself. I have gained more than I ever expected by participating in this competition and getting involved with GSEA,” states Haselkorn. Win or lose, Haselkorn returns to St. Louis with tools and experience that will further her business more than she could ever imagine.