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Boise Entrepreneur Week promotes community innovation to solve real problems

Big ideas become a reality each year when entrepreneurs pitch new ideas to take on existing issues in the community.

BOISE, Idaho — It’s now a tradition in Boise: every year, area entrepreneurs get their shot to prove themselves to the community in Boise Entrepreneur Week.

“It’s really a time to gather and celebrate the entrepreneurs in Boise and in Idaho and strengthen the overall entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Nic Miller, the Executive Director of the Venture College at Boise State University.

The Venture College at Boise State is only one of the community partners that power the exciting week. It’s exciting because presenting entrepreneurs can win money to help make their idea a reality.

“$140,000. It’s all non-dilutive, which means it’s not like an investment where they take a part of your company. It’s just capital to help build your company going forward,” Miller said.

Boise Entrepreneur Week hosts a few different segments of competition for Idaho students and professionals. The goal is for entrepreneurs to create a solution to a community issue. 

Teams in the Hacking for Homebuilding segment, for example, are off to answer a question from Nick Stopello, the founder of Flash Point Building Systems: “How do manufacturers or builders hold their installers more accountable from a quality and installation standpoint?”

Stopello is working to innovate the hot homebuilding market in the Treasure Valley. The team at Flash Point Building Systems is well aware of the unique challenges the Idaho homebuilding industry faces. So, they created a process to simplify how builders lay the subfloor on a project.

“Where this really stemmed from is acknowledging that we have a labor shortage, acknowledging that there aren’t people coming into the trades or we haven’t been back feeding into the trades in the past couple decades as we had before," Stopello explained. "And so how do we do more with less and maintain a high level of quality?”

That’s accomplished through this innovative technique, taking guesswork, extra supply costs, and extra time off projects. Instead of manually placing subfloor and using something like chalk to outline a major project, the team here is going high-tech, cutting a tailored subfloor that is easy for anyone to lay out.

“Think of it like a battleship grid. You’ve got ‘A’ through whatever letter on one side, and one through whatever number on the other side. You just put it together just like a grid; A1 is next to A2, B1 next to A1 and so forth,” Stopello said.

The event promotes change from the community by the community.

“One of the most impactful and sustainable ways to help your community economic development is to help people that are here that have an idea. If we can invest in those people, whether they are students or community members that want to start their own business, they’ve self-selected into our community and we can invest in them and get an incredible return on that investment,” Miller said.

While local entrepreneurs get a shot at proving themselves in areas of need, like homebuilding, the community gets innovative solutions to problems Idaho is facing right now.

“That’s why we decided to participate, because this is absolutely a win-win,” Stopello said.

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