It all starts with an idea; a nagging little notion that refuses to be ignored. It grows and builds completely occupying the thoughts of its owner. Finally, its call must be answered. The idea will be transformed from the theoretical plane into a tangible product and along the way an entrepreneur will be born.

Entrepreneurs can be found everywhere, not just in hack-a-thons and venture capital sponsored think tanks. Nothing reaffirms this sentiment more than the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA), an Entrepreneur Organization program, and the premier global business competition for students. For over a decade years, the GSEA has hosted entrepreneurs across the world, each of who have built successful, profitable businesses while also balancing the life of a full time student. In the end, 30 finalists are chosen from thousands of nominations in over 40 countries, to go head to head for the title of Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year, and $150,000 in cash and in-kind prizes.

This year there are six US semi-finals, 26 globally, in New York City, Boston, Miami, LA, St. Louis and Ft. Worth. Each regional competition will feature six student entrepreneurs in colleges and universities in the area. Through these regional competitions, semi-finalists showcase their successes to a panel of judges, many of them savvy long-time entrepreneurs. The winners are sent through to the November global finals.

Duking it out in this round are five inspirational young business leaders who have not only embraced what it is to be an entrepreneur but maintained an awareness of social responsibility that they have embedded in their business models. From Google’s motto, “Do No Evil” to Chipotle’s campaign for locally grown food and Dell’s support of e-waste recycling initiates, companies around the world are working to do their part to improve society.

The Boston regional semi-finals, will prove to be fierce. Here are the semi-finalists:

Alex Kreopolides, founder of Snackin’ Healthy and a student at the University of Massachusetts majoring in Marketing. His company is helping his fellow students one healthy snack at a time by providing healthy balanced real food in a convenient grab-n-go form.

James Hilton, founder of Jacox-Hilton, is a Babson College Business Administration major. He is revolutionizing the insurance industry with the use of cloud-based technology by giving insurance advisors the tools to increase production and improve workflows.

Dinesh Wadhwani, founder of ThinkLite. LLC and another Babson College student, is using green initiatives to make big business a little brighter. His commercial lighting firm helps businesses go green and use energy more efficiently with no upfront cost.

Shira Abramowitz, founder of Campus Swaps and student at McGill University student, has taken the adage “one’s man’s trash is another’s man treasure” to a whole new level. Her company recycles goods from graduates to incoming freshman across several college campuses.

Justin Mares, founder of, is a University of Pittsburgh Finance major working to perfect the process of roommate pairing. This service helps organizations match roommates using on research-backed testing.

Michael Emery, founder of Greenlightning Surfboards, is a student at the University of Massachusetts Boston providing the eco-friendliest wave riding experience. His company produces custom, handcrafted surfboards made from 100% post-consumer recycled foam and bio-derived epoxy.

These five business wunderkinds are about to take a step up to the big leagues. All of their hard work, sacrifice and determination will rush forth onto the stage this Thursday evening where one will be named the Boston Regional champion. Yet the journey won’t end there; it’s just the beginning of a long road that ends at the ultimate finish line Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year. We will be there to watch, learn, listen and report every detail. The future of entrepreneurship lies with these forward thinking individuals. Check back for the latest updates on the GSEA. It promises to be one heck of a ride.

Which business do you think take social entrepreneurship to the next level?

  1. Snackin’ Healthy
  2. Jacox-HiltonCorp
  3. ThinkLite. LLC
  4. Campus Swaps
  6. Greenlightning Surfboards

Answer in the comments!