Royal Roads students Natalie Chu and Erin Arndt are organizing fundraising events for B.C. Children's Hospital as part of Venture Challenge.

Money from nothing

Royal Roads students try to flip $5 into big cash for charity

Five dollars won’t buy much these days, but a group of Royal Roads students are trying to flip a minor amount of cash into big donations for charity.

Fourteen teams of RRU bachelor of commerce students are competing in the annual Venture Challenge, where students develop and market business ideas to raise as much cash as possible, while not spending more than $5.

This year, teams are hosting yoga-thons, goat petting zoos, selling children’s art and a managing celebrity soccer game, among other ideas. The team which raises the most money will win an extra $1,000 to go to the charity of their choice.

The event, now in its 12th year, is meant to drive home how business theory is applied in the real and often unforgiving world. Entrepreneurial management professor Geoff Archer said the students have to think creatively on a tight deadline, with “a ridiculously limited budget.”

“The experience is intended to model what its like starting up a small business that is very constrained by its budget,” Archer said. “The $5 is not intended to be an obstacle, but to stir creativity. They have to pull up their bootstraps and become really resourceful.”

Last year the teams raised $41,000 for charities, edging out the $36,000 total from 2009. Typically most teams hit the mark and raise thousands, while one or two come up cold. The Venture Challenge brings out fierce competition between teams, Archer said, and nobody wants to be the zero sum team.

“I would expect that the team that raises $0 might learn a lot more than the team that raises $8,000,” Archer observed.

One team, Called Goats for Hope, came up with the idea of a mobile petting zoo with baby goats, donated from the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm. The team plans to hold by-donation petting zoos at elementary schools and outside shopping centres.

Suitably, the team is raising money for Heifer International, a non-profit that supplies goats to children in developing countries.

“We decided to do something fun,” said student Lauryn Kerr, 21. “Why not play with goats? It’s a lot of fun and they are really cute.”

On a slightly different tack, students Erin Arndt and Natalie Chu are part of a team organizing two events to raise money for the B.C. Children’s Hospital on behalf of Molly Campbell, a Saanich infant with leukemia.

The first is a concert by Vox Humana Choir at Central Baptist Church in downtown Victoria, followed by a “hot yoga-thon” at Bikram Yoga in Langford.

So far, the team has spent none of its $5 budget. The choir and the church, and Bikram Yoga are donating space and time. For the yoga-thon, the students are challenging hot yoga enthusiasts to see how many sweaty, 90-minute sessions they can complete in a row.

“For the yoga-thon, people can do one, two or three classes in a row,” said Chu, 20. “Erin and I will personally push ourselves to do two and collect pledges.”

Organizing two events is a heavy workload, but a superb learning exercise, the girls say. Trying to generate marketing and printed material while managing logistics on a $5 budget is no easy task.

“We took on two events instead of trying to sell something. As first time event organizers, it’s a lot of footwork,” said Arndt, 24. “And it’s hard to ask (business) for something for nothing.”

Upcoming events

The Voices of Victoria concert with the Vox Humana Choir is Feb. 4, 7 p.m., Central Baptist Church, 833 Pandora Ave. Entry by donation with all proceeds going to B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation. E-mail royalroadslearners12@gmail.com to reserve seats.

The yoga-thon at Bikram Yoga, 750 Goldstream Ave., is on Feb. 5, during the 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon sessions. The Karma class, by donation, is Feb. 6 at 4 p.m. All proceeds are going to B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation.

For more on Goats for Hope, check out goatsforhope.com for upcoming petting zoo events. The goats will be in Market Square in Victoria Feb. 5 during the day.

For the Venture Challenge, two public trade shows will be held including all the business ideas and teams, who will be on hand to explain their products or business ideas.

The first will occur on Saturday, Feb. 5 at Mayfair mall in Victoria between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. A second trade show will be held at Royal Roads University on Tuesday, Feb. 8 on the Quarterdeck of the Grant Building between noon and 1 p.m.

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