Entrepreneurship 101 - Value add to existing items

Since the last year, Stanford has been sponsoring Entrepreneurship week contest of being creative and “adding value to existing items.”

And, the drum roll please; this year’s secret item to add value to is: Rubber Band.


The 2008 Innovation Tournament is open to teams of Stanford students, as well as students around the world. Teams can be of any size. Your challenge is to create as much value as possible using rubber bands. You can use as many as you want, of any size, shape, or color. Value can be measured on any scale you choose. Remember, value comes from actually implementing your ideas and delivering results. To be successful, challenge assumptions, seize opportunities, be creative, and Make it Happen!

Last year, the secret item was Post-it Notes. And some of the entries were creative and business worthy.


My favorite entries from the last year were: Braille Note - A Braille Navigation System for Sight Impaired; selling ads on the Post-it was obvious, most sustainable and probably fundable idea; and selling the preemptive prize of the event on Ebay was gimmicky, but a cool thought.

You can see the complete list of winners for 2007 here.

Here are my ideas for the rubber band:

High tech ideas:

  • Rubber band with a ring tone built in. There is already a strip of paper available that can be made to hum any tune. Use the rubber band instead to create a ring tone. Perfect for a packaging for a ring tone card or for birthday card.
  • A rubber band rocket launcher. It might be possible to launch less than 2 lb rocket with rubber band canon. Do it right and win this competition and the Lunar X prize at the same time! :-)
  • Rubber band to monitor the temperature of your computer system. This should be easy to implement. If the temperature goes up, the band becomes softer and stretches more.
  • Use rubberbands to generate energy while you are walking. Essentially, it stores a part of the energy when you are walking and then delivers it back when you need it.

Low Tech Idea:

  • Make a rubber band music video (either as a story to existing number or create music using rubber bands.)
  • If done right, rubber bands can be used as a filteration device. Additionally, they can be self cleaning. After using a bundle of rubber bands as a filter, stretch and release the bundle to auto clean.
  • Rubber band with writable sleeves (ready for ads or customization) would be too obvious, but I think it will work. Printable friendship bands are all around so that doesn’t count.
  • Make crossed rubber bands. I find that to secure something, I need to use two to four rubber bands and attach them in two different directions. A pre-arranged rubbers cluster might be helpful. Also, I hate those metal twist ties on bags. I end up using rubber bands to secure those bags any way. A custom designed rubber band suited to tie bags would be nice. Or, make adjustable rubber bands. When I want to use rubber band, they are never of the right size and don’t provide the right amount of force.

So what can you do with a rubber band? You have a less than a week to come up with an idea, implement it and document it.


Leave a comment if you can think of any other ways to add value to a rubber band.

6 Responses to “Entrepreneurship 101 - Value add to existing items”

  1. By RedBarron on Feb 25, 2022 | Reply

    Everything in life can be fixed by duck tape and rubber band.

  2. By Vik Guru on Feb 25, 2022 | Reply

    Well, everything, including metal, is a “rubber band” in one form or another. Just the heat properties are different.

    If one can custom design a rubber band, then it opens up a lot of options. If you can only use the ones that are “ordinary”, then value add can happen only by adding “ideas” to the rubber band and not ‘functionality” to it.

  3. By Tom Chow on Feb 25, 2022 | Reply

    I like these types of contests. They are fun (and completely useless, I might add).

  4. By zoe on Aug 15, 2021 | Reply

    use as a musle

  5. By zoe on Aug 15, 2021 | Reply

    shoe lace

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  2. Mar 5, 2008: Talk Like A Physicist | Talk Like A Physicist 3.14 » Rubber band Model of Universe : Winner of 2008 Stanford Innovation Tournament.

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