Has your school registered for the second annual HBCU Battle of the Brains competition to be held in Austin, Texas, March 9–10? If so, a team from your school could win some of the $50,000-plus in college scholarships.
“An indicator of success for us is that all the schools that participated last year are returning,” says Gregory Gibson Jr., founder and executive director of HBCU Battle of the Brains. “And it’s perfect that we have SXSW as a backdrop.
“This year we have more schools registered. Altogether we may have 20 to 25 schools,” Gibson continues. “The goal overall is to create employment and entrepreneurial opportunity that will fit with the companies investing in our competition.”
Exchanging Marching for Coding
Gibson developed Battle of the Brains as a riff off of the classic HBCU Battle of the Bands, a competition of marching bands.
“HBCUs are known for the Battle of the Bands. I’d like them to be known for the Battle of the Brains,” he says.
The competition, whose title sponsor is Home Depot, is unique in that it combines the traditional case competition with a technological component—requiring students to come up with at least one technology solution to the business case, which students learn once they arrive in Austin.
“Actually, once the program starts,” says Gibson, “they’ll have 24 hours to provide a comprehensive solution. There will be a variety of deliverables between 10 a.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. on Saturday.”
A Case Competition Plus Hackathon
Why the combination?
Gibson explains, “Oftentimes in the tech industry you’ll encounter brilliant minds that are wonderful at technology and developing apps and technological solutions. They want to go into business but don’t have the business side down.
“Conversely, there are MBAs that have the business structure intact—but there’s no product.
“The goal here is to create mini-corporations, well-rounded groups, that not only develop a tech solution but can wrap the business side around it—the marketing, the financing, etc.—to create a comprehensive solution.
At the end, students pitch a complete package.
“It’s not just ‘here’s our idea,’ it’s ‘here’s the idea, here’s the tech, here’s how you market it.’ We’re creating an opportunity for their minds to be stretched and for the cream to rise to the top.”
The competition is open to students from freshmen to Ph.D. candidates. Many of last year’s participants have had job offers and internships.
To learn more, visit the Battle of the Brains website.