I attended the 7th Annual Cupid’s Cup Business Competition and watched as 5 teams pitched their businesses. Reed Street Productions, a Zombie race event company (see the video of their pitch below) has booked over $3 million in revenue in less than 2 years. (It must be noted that Cupid’s Cup is a BUSINESS COMPETITION, not a BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION — all competitors have operating firms — yes their revenues, development, profits, etc can vary widely)
Kevin Plank, Under Armour founder and CEO, underwrites the competition (it is named after the campus flower delivery service he created while an undergrad, walk on football player in College Park) and this year featured Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, UMD President Loh, and some other great visitors. Past winners and participants such as My Fridge Rental, Crooked Monkey, and North Star Games were present. The real participation of alumni entrepreneurs appears to be one of the strengths of University of Maryland, the Smith School of Business, and the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.
Over 600 people were there as Reed Street Productions, the Zombie race company (Run for Your Life!), gave a great pitch — including astounding sales, cash flow, and strategy results and exciting multimedia. They took home the $17,500 first prize and also won the audience choice award. (watch their pitch below)
Last week while in Scottsdale I was fortunate to visit with 3 of the founders of G3Box, a start-up out of ASU converting shipping containers into mobile medical clinics. Clay, Gabby, and Billy (John) are dynamic young entrepreneurs looking to solve a specific global problem and their successes so far really highlight the culture of entrepreneurship being built at ASU. Details of their story and the ASU programs, curriculum and people involved in their development will be included as we release portions of my research over the next 3-6 months.
While visiting G3Box at ASU’s Skysong‘s Edson student accelerator I was introduced to Will Curran, founder of Arizona Pro DJs an incredibly successful entertainment service provider that he founded at ASU. Will also works out of Skysong and is building a high impact firm — in terms of revenues, customers, wages paid etc. Will’s story highlights the concept of the campus as market for experimenting with new ideas and iterations and as a launching pad to move beyond campus or to other campuses.
Both G3Box and AZ Pro DJs are in the running for America’s Coolest College Start-Up, sponsored by Inc Magazine. You can watch their videos and vote for them. You can also check out a bunch of other great student firms.
Vote for your favorite America’s Coolest College Start-Up | Inc.com.
TED is the latest to directly jump into the education market — offering something for those looking for online learning, open source edu, uncollege, hack edu, or any other angle on disrupting education. They are calling on top educators to step up and join in with a short lesson to share with the world. TED clearly has some understanding of what video learners want (its why I am videoing my research interviews and other events for remixing later into edu assets). From the Wired Campus column at the Chronicle of Higher Education:
The nonprofit group called TED, known for streaming 18-minute video lectures about big ideas, today opened a new YouTube channel designed for teachers and professors, with videos that are even shorter.The new channel, called TED-Ed, was announced a year ago, but its leaders are only now unveiling the project’s first videos. There are only 11 as of today, but the goal is to add new ones regularly. Within three months from now, a new video could appear each day, said Chris Anderson, TED’s curator, in a conference call with reporters late last week.To produce the new videos, the group is connecting content experts with professional animators to create highly illustrated productions. The average length of these videos is about five minutes, and Mr. Anderson said he envisions a teacher playing one in class at the start of a lesson “to ignite excitement” about the topic.
via TED, Known for Idea Talks, Releases Educational Videos – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.
More accelerator news in the DC Metro. From Techcrunch
Hot, new Washington D.C. tech accelerator known as The Fort is debuting its inaugural class of startups today. The organization grew out the efforts from early stage VC firm Fortify Ventures LLC, also known as Fortify.vc (that’s its URL, too), which had previously invested in nearly dozen D.C.-area tech companies.
Over the past 9 months, The Fort’s co-founders, Jonathon Perrelli and Carla Valdes, have been busy trying to spark innovation in the nation’s capital. They set up the fund, invested in group of startups, created the accelerator, hosted a pitch competition called “Distilled Intelligence” which handed out $25K to winners, and selected a dozen more startups for The Fort’s first program.
“D.C. is not a place where people are always working together,” says Perrelli of the group’s efforts, “but now there is this uprising. People are trying to build something here.”
He notes that the area, despite being the center of government where important policy decisions are made, has been slow to join in the burgeoning tech scene. But things have been changing. With The Fort, the hope is to provide a path to get D.C. area startups off the ground.
The program, which gives founders anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000 in seed capital, was lured to the area from nearby Arlington thanks to a $100,000 grant from D.C. Mayor Vicent Gray. Now set up in offices on K Street two blocks from The White House, the organization its opening its doors to 12 new companies who will spend 6 months in its program.
Its interesting to note that accelerator founders are now playing the economic development game. And, once again we see more pressure on universities in the entrepreneurship education space. BTW, I met some of the founders in the The Fort’s first class at GWU’s Startup Job Fair earlier this week. Some cool new ventures.
via D.C.’s Newest Tech Accelerator “The Fort” Debuts Inaugural Batch | TechCrunch.
Entrepreneurship education continues to evolve to meet the needs of students and the marketplace. The new luxury business plan competition at London Business School is an innovative new take on the classic bplan competition. From the Financial:
Applicants from London Business School are being invited to submit business plans that demonstrate pioneering thinking and innovative approaches in the luxury sector.
According to London Business School, the overall winner of the competition will receive a new business support package worth in excess of £10,000. Candidates who are successfully chosen for the final round of judging will receive access to experienced industry mentors from Walpole member companies as they develop their business plans in advance of the final stage of judging.
Applicants will be judged on the quality of their business concept and articulation of the innovation, which can include market, strategic, technological and other forms of innovation that can be reasonably demonstrated as new or evolutionary for the luxury industry.
The final judging will be conducted by an expert panel of luxury executives, investors and London Business School professors.
Could we see the rise of luxury brands out of bschools? Under Armour, Ecko, Nike, and others have come directly from students.
via The FINANCIAL – London Business School and Walpole launch Innovation in Luxury Business Plan Competition.
One of the important questions lurking behind my research is the value of traditional MBA programs and BA programs with concentrations in entrepreneurship when 3 Day Startup, Y Combinator, Acton and others are taking things to a whole new level in terms of focusing on creating firms. Wharton recently held a quick startup/education innovation tournament focused on launching firms in a few days (this was the 4th annual). From Sarah Mitroff at Venturebeat:
Create an Internet business in four days; that’s the goal of the Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania’s workshop that finished yesterday. Students spent four days turning ideas into business prototypes and competing against each other in the course’s Innovation Tournament.
In four days, Jan 2 – 5, MBA students learned how to pitch, create and launch a new web-based business. Each student entered the class with an idea and through a process of elimination, seven business ideas and teams emerged. Students learned the basics of creating an online business; from identifying target audiences and pitching an idea, to search engine optimization and online traffic reporting.
At the end of the workshop, the organizers announced the winners of the Innovation Tournament. Each team won on a specific metric, such as most pageviews for the business website or best real world application. While the “everyone wins” spirit is helpful in a classroom setting, in the real business world there are often clear winners and losers — something the workshop didn’t dive into. In addition, due to the short time span, the workshop didn’t discuss how to identify and deal with competitive businesses. New businesses launch all the time and many companies are competing for the same customers. Being able to set your business apart from all of the others, can mean the difference between success and failure.
The team that won based on pageviews and marketing created Chow4You, a service that helps you find meals based on nutritional value and dietary needs.
via New Internet business in four days: Wharton School workshop for MBAs | VentureBeat.
The Knackeo Team @ Triangle Startup Weekend 2011
Knackeo, a start-up in the education space, was born at the Triangle Startup Weekend in June 2011. Danny Page, one of the founders, is a friend of one of the students in New Venture Creation this semester and is coming to class tonight. Even more exciting is that he emailed that his firm uses lean start-up methodology and asked if the students were familiar. I was able to answer in the affirmative that George Mason School of management is teaching lean start-up methodologies that Eric Ries, Steven G. Blank and others promote. If you’d like to attend tonight’s class email me via the contact page.
Knackeo | Triangle Startup Weekend.