Campus & Community

From Classroom to Competition: Stevens Students Take on Global Scaling Challenge

Two Stevens teams compete for $35,000 in third annual global scaling competition

Scaling a tech company is no small task. Now, imagine having to scale a tech company in only two weeks. That’s the goal of the Global Scaling Challenge (GSC), hosted by the Anderson School of Management at the University of New Mexico.

This year, two teams from the Stevens Institute of Technology School of Business have qualified in the Western Hemisphere Regional Qualifiers. They are set to compete against 19 student teams from around the world in the Global Scaling Challenge. The event will be held virtually on April 14 and 15, with a prize pool of $35,000 in cash prizes and three summer internships up for grabs.

Not your Average Business Plan Competition

“The Global Scaling Challenge is different than the business plan competitions that might be trying to create a business plan for a fictitious company,” explains Professor Gary Lynn, who both mentors one of the student teams and is in charge of helping organize the competition. Instead, the GSC tasks students to create growth strategies for three real U.S. technology-based companies. The objective is to provide a viable strategy to rapidly grow each company from x to 1,000x in sales in five years.

To compete in the GSC, 35 student teams from 25 institutions had to compete in one of two regional qualifiers: the Western Hemisphere Scaling Challenge, co-sponsored by Rowan University and Stevens Institute of Technology, held on March 3, and the Eastern Challenge, sponsored by Kepler University (Austria), held on March 1. Students from these teams worked to scale up RS21, an artificial intelligence, space-related software company.

“It is a real challenge, and it will push you,” shares Brianne Kain ’21, who was part of the inaugural competition and helped Stevens bring home the gold. Now, she’s returned to the competition as a student mentor, explaining that the experience brought her back. “Through everything I’ve done in my education and career, the Global Scaling Challenge is what I’m most proud of,” she says. While the competition continues to grow and evolve, she uses her experience to help her team be more strategic in their approach, from research to ideation to crafting an effective presentation.

Applying Classroom Knowledge

The GSC is a great example of how the School of Business prepares its students for the real world according to Lynn. “This competition is the perfect sweet spot for what we’re teaching our students,” he explains. “The whole concept of technological scaling is ingrained in everything we do at Stevens.”

Professor Balbinder Singh Gill, who also mentors a team of students in the competition, agrees. “What sets the Stevens School of Business curriculum apart from other business schools is that each business major we offer infuses computer science, data analytics and information systems into each program.” This approach is giving students an edge in the competition and the job market. “Our courses are developed to stimulate active learning by emphasizing the practical implications of each course.”

Lynn also points out that students in the competition are experiencing the power of competition-based education. “It is an event where the students, in a compressed timeframe, have to focus on a challenge. It really requires them to function effectively as a team to focus on the key task at hand and deliver something of value.”

Thomas Pinnola, a member of Lynn’s team, agrees that Stevens has prepared him well to take on the GSC. “My course with Professor [Pranav] Garg has been very helpful,” he explains. “There were weekly case studies which have changed how I think about new businesses and how they can improve.”

The Finals

Now, students on both teams are researching, crafting strategies and putting together presentations for Proof Labs for Finals Day 1 and Ideas Tek for Final Day 2. They will have 10 minutes to present their recommendations to a group of judges comprised of companies leaders and other industry experts.

Best of luck to both teams of students, including Jessica Driscoll, Megan Anderson, Thomas Pinnola, Hannah Fitzsimons, Nathanael Vachon, Haneef Sajjad, Mary Savelyev and Jiyun Nam.