Turn $5 into $650


A group of Stanford University students were split into 14 teams, each team was given $5 in an envelope as “seed funding”, their task was to generate as much money as they can in 2 hours, the clock starts as soon as they open the envelope, each team will have 3 minutes to present their project to the class.

Some suggested to buy a lottery ticket, most groups set up a carwash or a lemonade stand and made a few dollars in 2 hours.

Interesting enough, groups they made most profits didn’t spent the $5, not even a penny. One group indentified a common problem near their college, it was very hard to book a table at some restaurants. So, they booked reservations and sold them to those who don’t want to wait for $20 each.

Another group offered to measure bicycle tire pressure free of charge, if the tires need filling they would fill it for $1. They shortly changed their approach, instead of charging $1, they asked their customer to donate anything they want, they end up getting more than $1 per filling.

The winning group also didn’t spend a penny, what did they do?

Remember the 3 minutes presentation time given to each team? They sold the time as “advertisement” to a company who wanted to hire Stanford students, for a whopping $650.

The most valuable asset they had was not the $5, nor their skill to make lemonade or wash a car, it was the 3 minutes presentation time in front of hundreds of world famous “Stanford students”!

$5 was as good as nothing to start with, what would you have done with it?

Remember to always think out of the box, identify problems and most importantly, identify yourself!

(Reference: Tina Sellig 2009, "What I wish I knew when I was 20".)

(Photo Credits: Kunal Mukherjee