How Mentorship Helped Carl-Olivier Dumesle and Bria d'Amours Succeed in the Fowler Business Concept Challenge

Thursday, February 20, 2020TOPICS: Innovation and Entrepreneurship

USD School of Business Carl-Olivier Dumesle and Bria d'Amours Succeed in the Fowler Business Concept Challenge
begin quoteThe Fowler Business Concept Challenge was the catalyst to our brainstorming sessions in which we asked ourselves: 'What's the most painful problem we've experienced recently?' and 'Is there a way to solve it?

We spoke with student team finalists, Carl-Olivier Dumesle and Bria d'Amours (both full-time MBA candidates graduating in 2021), as well as Assistant Professor of Marketing Colin Campbell, to hear firsthand about the experience of competing in the Fowler Business Concept Challenge.

Q&A with Student Finalists, Carl-Olivier Dumesle and Bria d'Amours:

Q: Briefly describe your entrepreneurial journey. How did you take the first step in making your idea into a reality?  

A: Our journey didn't start with an idea; it started with a problem. At first, it was a problem we had just accepted as being "the way things are" but it stayed in the back of our minds. The announcement of the inaugural Fowler Business Concept Challenge was the catalyst to our brainstorming sessions in which we asked ourselves: "What's the most painful problem we've experienced recently?" and "Is there a way to solve it?" Once we realized that this problem was omnipresent, with a serious lack of solutions, we knew that we had a viable and promising business idea up our sleeves.

Q: How did the relationship with your mentor help influence the development of your business idea?  

A: We sought our mentor's expertise to hash out specific details and seek guidance. Your mentor should not be the one building your venture for you; he or she is there to provide feedback through their acquired knowledge and experiences. Having a finished proposal and an agenda for every meeting is also greatly beneficial in order to make the most of your time spent with your mentor. 

Q: What are some of your key takeaways from preparing for the Fowler Business Concept Challenge?   

A: Do it for yourself, not just for the challenge. The Fowler Business Concept Challenge rubrics are a great guide towards making your idea come to life, but you should also seek out all other available resources to you. Pushing yourself to develop your concept on a larger scale will help you grow both personally and professionally. As a small fish in a big pond, putting in the extra work will allow you to distinguish yourself from the competition, and set you ahead of the game. 

Q: If you could offer a current student entrepreneur advice, what would it be?   

A: Don't be afraid to team up, 1+1=3. Also, the more you believe in how great your idea is, the more others will too.


Q&A with Professor Colin Campbell

Q: What would you say to a student hoping to start their own business?

A: Being a student is a great time to start a business. You have lots of time and energy, and, in most cases, minimal commitments.  Now, thanks to the Catalyzer, you also have a tremendous set of resources to help incubate your ideas! 

Q: What advice would you give students who are looking to connect with a mentor and have a successful outcome? 

A: A good mentor has your best interests in mind but is going to be critical. That’s the whole idea and being able to listen and iterate is a difficult but important skill. Whenever I hear a business idea I’m always running through a series of tough questions (i.e., How competitive is this market? Is the idea proprietary or easily replicable? Will consumers see a compelling difference with this product or service? Can it start small and successfully but then easily scale?) to try and identify what I see as the biggest challenges an investor might have. Only after identifying these can we then brainstorm ways to pivot around them. 

Q: Given your experience with the Fowler Business Concept Challenge, what would you say to a student entrepreneur that is hoping to participate next year?

A: Go for it! The experience of competing and honing your idea will be super valuable. It’s also a great way to meet other like-minded students, business professionals, and faculty. There really isn’t anything to lose by participating. 

The Fowler Business Concept Challenge (FBCC) is one of several unique programs organized by the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Catalyzer. The competition provides an opportunity for students to meet with their professors outside of the classroom to tap into their expertise and experience as they work through the process of thinking of a potential business solution to a problem they identified. The FBCC is for students focused on all kinds of business ideas. These include the more traditional, commercial venture ideas such as business-to-consumer models as well as business-to-business models, technology-based ventures, and business for good models.

The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Catalyzer at USD focuses on “Building Entrepreneurs.” Our vision is to build lifelong entrepreneurs with the values, knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes that enable them to create world-changing innovations to address humanity’s most urgent challenges and opportunities. We combine the research expertise of our faculty mentors from different schools on campus with real-world insights from expert mentors in San Diego’s innovation ecosystem to provide students with an unparalleled immersive experience that will develop them into successful entrepreneurs.  


Renata Ramirez
(619) 260-4658