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ENTREPRENEURIAL CHALLENGE: How to Turn $5 Into $650 in 2 Hours

November 4th, 2009 · 26 Comments · Entrepreneurship, Inspirational Speeches, Videos

The original source of this video is The Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP) Entrepreneurship Corner is a free online archive of entrepreneurship resources for teaching and learning. But I first heard about it from Oscar Del Ben.

If you had five dollars and two hours, what would you do to make as much money as possible?

In this inspiring lecture, Tina Seelig, Executive Director for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, recalls a classroom exercise in entrepreneurship and creative thinking that posed this quandary to student teams.

Podcast: Listen to the entire talk (MP3, 52 min)



  1. Tina gave students (every team) an envelope, and in that envelope was seed funding. They didn’t know how much money was inside it.
  2. They had four or five days to plan as long as they wanted, but as soon as they opened the envelope they had two hours to make as much money as possible.
  3. Money inside the envelope => 5 dollars.


The teams that made the most money didn’t use the $5 at all. They realized that the $5 was actually a limitation. They realized that the $5 framed the problem way too tightly. If they looked at the skills they had and the opportunities around them that was worth a lot more. All they had to do is look around and see the opportunities in their midst.


  • People are incredibly appreciative. So, if we’re going to ask people money for a product or service and they can get it free or almost free, maybe we should ask for a donation instead.
  • Go “outside” and experiment. Experimenting and trying things out along the way you can learn many things you will never learn from a book or in classroom.
  • To succeed all we need to do is open our eyes and minds. We don’t need a million dollars to create a successful business. We have resources that are much larger and more valuable than we even imagined. Our own skills that we have and the opportunities around us are bigger than we think. We have enough potential as individuals to create an amazing business just with our entrepreneurial spirit.

My message: You can overcome any challenge just with your creative and innovative power.

FREE your imagination and try to find the solution to your problems and challenges examining them from all possible angles. Seeking out answers, you will boost your creativity and create outstanding ideas and unique solutions.

Stop thinking in terms of limitations and start thinking in terms of possibilities.” – Terry Josephson

Tina Seelig’s Book on entrepreneurship:

*     *     *                                                     *     *     *                                                *     *     *

What about you? What would you do to make as much money as possible with just 5 dollars in your pocket and 2 hours? What would you do if you were given this challenge? What other things have you learned from this story? Think about it and share your answer to this quandary leaving a comment.

And remember, share your thoughts & ideas and enjoy what others share with you 🙂

My Twitter: @DavidCantone


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26 Comments so far ↓

  • Nicholas Z. CardotNo Gravatar

    Great article. Thanks for sharing this cool concept. Now it’s my turn to make $650!
    .-= Nicholas Z. Cardot´s last blog ..6 Plugins to Help Grow Your Blog Comments =-.

  • Michael - Fat Loss TipsNo Gravatar

    Good post. Never doubt the power of imagination. Enjoyed the video as well.


  • MarkoNo Gravatar

    Hi David,

    What a cool video.

    Scary how easy it is to fall into the trap of limiting yourself. And in most cases those limits are self-imposed and based on false assumptions.
    .-= Marko´s last blog ..Free VST Synths, Effects and the Meaning of Life =-.

    • David | ilcantone.comNo Gravatar

      Hi Marko,

      I’m glad you like it.

      Yes, exactly, most of those limits are self-imposed. Although, family members, school teachers and friends also play an important role in establishing such limits. We have to break our limits and release the break pedal in our life.

      Thanks Marko for your comment 🙂


  • InternetHow BlogNo Gravatar

    I think if I am just limited with the $5 dollars, i would just place a bet on few football games. However, if I am allowed to add my passion, my determination, and my skills, that $5 would definetly would go higher that $650. I am not not too sure if I can manage that in 2 hours though 🙂

    Very nice article, thanks for sharing.
    .-= InternetHow Blog´s last blog ..Top Commentator Competition: Winners are … =-.

    • David | ilcantone.comNo Gravatar


      Yes, the challenge is really difficult: $5 and just 2 hours. But they had 4 or 5 days to plan what they should do to earn money quickly. They didn’t know how much they had inside the envelope but I’m sure that they expected little money.

      Thanks for your comment 🙂

      By the way, what’s your name?


  • Blaine BullmanNo Gravatar

    That was one of the best videos I’ve ever seen and listened to David, thanks for sharing it.

    That just shows how creative and resourceful we can be once we stop thinking what limitations we have.

    It really got me thinking about what limitations on placing on myself.

    Im not sure what I would do if I had $5 and 2 hours. Possibly go where there are a large amount of people and sell a service. Something very generic and scheduled for a date in the future.
    .-= Blaine Bullman´s last blog ..The First “Content King” Contest Is Coming =-.

    • David | ilcantone.comNo Gravatar

      Hi Blaine,

      I’m glad you liked it.

      Yes when I was writing the post I was thinking the same: I was trying to identify those self-imposed limitations and figuring out how to overcome them.

      I’ve always thought that in order to obtain satisfactory and precise answers we need to ask ourselves the right questions.

      Thanks Baline for your insightful comment.


  • RyanNo Gravatar


    This post is what business is about: creativity. Create something new, don’t compete for what you already see. Money is an idea in the mind. If you feel that you need money to make money, that’s your reality. If you feel that you don’t, that’s your reality. If you feel yourself to be a millionaire you will surely be one.

    The key is to get at the belief system which is buried under false ideas acquired along the way. You can create anything that you want to create with the imagination.

  • Oscar - freestyle mindNo Gravatar

    I came across that video from hacker news a few days ago and I was very impressed at how those students were thinking outside of the box!
    .-= Oscar – freestyle mind´s last blog ..Habit #5 – The Do Habit =-.

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  • Simon | TeeniusNo Gravatar

    Cool article, and very cool story. Like you say, I suppose whether you make money is down to you, instead of what you have to start with.

    Once again, great post – I found it really interesting 🙂
    .-= Simon | Teenius´s last blog ..4 Steps To Thank Your Commentators =-.

  • King SidharthNo Gravatar

    Cool man! Very inspiring! Thanks for sharing this wonderful treasure
    .-= King Sidharth´s last blog ..Prove Thyself =-.

  • John SamuelNo Gravatar

    Creativity and intelligence are two most important factors of success. You must make use of your creativity in the best way and at the right time
    .-= John Samuel ´s last blog ..Create a Facebook Fan Page for your Blog =-.

  • Rajesh KanuriNo Gravatar

    it is more about imagination.. can say the power of imagination..
    .-= Rajesh Kanuri´s last blog ..How to Backup Your Current WordPress Theme =-.

  • Jim HardinNo Gravatar

    Hey Dave
    I like the line To succeed all we need to do is to open our eyes and mind. Think outside the box. Be different and unique. Sometimes this is hard to do but if we can just open our mind to new ideas we can be successful.

    Another great post that made me think…Thanks!
    .-= Jim Hardin´s last blog ..Live Each Moment Like Your Last =-.

  • ZXTNo Gravatar

    I didn’t watch the clip. How did the students made $650 in 2 hours?
    .-= ZXT´s last blog ..Be My Guest Blogger =-.

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  • OlusegunNo Gravatar

    Hi David,

    A very awesome video to start my weekend with.

    Thank you so much for posting it.

    Great blog. I’m blessed to have met you.

    Expect to see me more often 😉

    For now, i’m off to


  • Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot SpotNo Gravatar

    She was a great speaker and the stories were perfect too. Interesting thoughts about price points and not putting yourself in a corner by setting a low price for something when people value it higher and would be prepared to spend more!

  • Chetan @ tipsntracks.comNo Gravatar

    Hi David,

    It’s inspiring and challenging!
    It will definitely help me to improve my blogging.

    Great post. Thanks for sharing.

    ~ Chetan Akarte
    .-= Chetan @´s last blog ..Learning JavaScript tutorial – JavaScript Reserved KeyWords =-.

  • RonNo Gravatar

    Great story! It reminded me of my advertising and marketing class projects quite a while ago. Our professor taught us that great advertising sometimes is free advertising. We were creative with the way we marketed our products.

    Instead of advertising on pennysavers and other publications, we just chose to do a press release and submit it to a few local publications. We also thought about other creative strategies to save money and gain leads. I’d forgotten some of what we did. And of course, all of these efforts were mock strategies but the ideas are interesting and useful.

    Great post!

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