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Paperclip Challenge to kick off tomorrow

Sarah Zheng

Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012 07:11


Tomorrow, the Tufts Venture Fund and Entrepreneurs Society will hold the Red Paperclip Challenge for the first time. The 24-hour national event involves teams of up to five participants who begin the competition with a red paperclip and trade it up for more valuable items, according to Tufts Venture Fund Co-founder and senior Eric Peckham.

The race will begin at the Mayer Campus Center at 6 p.m. Teams will then photograph their trades and post the photos to a running Twitter feed for the duration of the event, Peckham explained. 

Teams have to return by 6 p.m. the following day to showcase their final item to a panel of celebrity Jumbos, including famous professors, deans or well-known students like the president of the Tufts Community Union Senate, according to Tufts Venture Fund Co-founder and junior Alexandra Halbeck

“We’re working on putting together a panel of judges — fun people connected with Tufts in various ways,” Peckham said.

The judges will determine which teams win prizes for the items that they bring back. 

“We’ll have a few different categories, like most ridiculous, biggest, most expensive, most impressive,” Peckham said. 

The challenge has no concrete rules and originality is encouraged, Halbeck said. 

“We just want people to get creative,” she said. “Entrepreneurship always seems so inaccessible and we just want to show people that anyone can have an idea and make something happen.”

Junior Glendon Gong, who plans to participate in the challenge, expressed excitement about the opportunity to compete with other students who have similar entrepreneurial mindsets. 

“My team’s strategy is to be eager and persistent,” Gong said. “Some items could be seen as garbage in other people’s eyes, but it could be precious and a worthy trade to us.”

“It’s a very interesting challenge and idea,” Gong added. “I can’t wait to collaborate with some of my best friends to try to do something impossible to unimaginable.”

The inspiration for bringing this challenge to Tufts was Entrepreneurial Leadership Program Director James Barlow’s experience with organizing a similar event at the University of Bristol in England. At the end of that event, one team came back with two live sheep and another brought back a kayak, Peckham said.

“It’s a pretty grassroots effort in terms of us having just a bunch of students who got together and thought that this would be a fun idea,” he said. “The challenge has a goofy and adventurous spirit and that just fit with the spirit of our two organizations.”

The Paperclip Challenge was first inspired by Canadian blogger Kyle MacDonald, who made 15 trades in one year, beginning with exchanging his paperclip and eventually ending up with a house. 

“We’re looking for creativity and wildness,” Halbeck said. “Our goal is just to get as many students as possible to meet up and exercise their entrepreneurial spirit.”

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