Category Archives: Business Plans & Competitions

Ed-Tech Start-Ups Grilled by VCs in Business Competition | The Chronicle of Higher Education

Interesting piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Jeffery Young on education technology startups and a recent business plan contest. Glad to see my friends at U of Delaware and their students are working on some cool businesses.

Leaders of 10 education-technology start-ups had eight minutes each to pitch their business plans in front of an audience, get grilled by a panel of venture capitalists, and then face a popular vote online. The big prize: marketing help from Educause and Google.

The start-ups’ chief executives, most of them in their 20s and 30s, talked fast, and when asked by the expert panel what their biggest obstacles were or how they could succeed when others had failed, most answered in slick sound bites that had clearly been rehearsed.

Their mission was to clearly state a problem in higher education they were trying to solve, and then show how their tool would do it.That might sound simple, but one member of the expert panel, John Cammack, of Cammack Associates, said that it’s hard to find a budding entrepreneur who can also make a successful pitch. “It’s one in 50,” he said. He’s also looking for intangibles: “My job is to find companies that have the intellectual skills, the management depth, and really the resolve to take the idea to full realization.”

via Ed-Tech Start-Ups Are Grilled by Venture Capitalists in Business Competition – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Kauffman Foundation Grant to StartX (Stanford Student Accelerator)

There is so much going on at Stanford University that its almost impossible to keep track of all of the initiatives. StartX, an accelerator for university students, received a big commitment for additional funding from Kauffman. From the Kauffman Foundation press release:

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation today announced an $800,000 grant to StartX, which runs a startup accelerator for university students, to support expansion and national scaling of the program.

StartX, formerly SSE Labs, was initially launched in 2010 by Stanford students to accelerate the development of the best Stanford student entrepreneurs through experiential education. Kauffman’s grant will help StartX scale its current services and build a model for replication.

“StartX has taken important initial steps to develop an experiential education-based program for founders at the university level,” said Wendy Torrance, Kauffman director of entrepreneurship who leads the Foundation’s curriculum development. “Our grant will help StartX further develop its curriculum and program and identify a model for replication, while bolstering its capacity to gather and analyze data on its work and crucial outcomes.”

StartX, a non-profit organization affiliated with Stanford University that takes no equity from its portfolio companies, has received applications from more than 6 percent of the Stanford student population each year. To date, StartX has supported more than 240 founders and 90 companies in several markets, including clean tech, biotechnology, enterprise, consumer internet/mobile, hardware, healthcare technology and social enterprise. In total, StartX companies have raised more than $70 million in funding.

Will be interested to see how it scales and would like to know how StartX differs from other channels students use to launch firms.

via Kauffman Foundation Announces Grant to StartX.

MSU Celebrates Student Entrepreneurship | Starkville Daily News

A few semesters ago, three students in my New Venture Creation class wanted to pursue the retail breathalyzer market. They chose to create a campus activity app instead. Today I learned from Steven Nalley at the Starkville Daily New that some Mississippi State students have pushed into the breathalyzer market and have done well with their idea (Night and Day Vending) on the business plan circuit.

Parker Stewart is a true competitor.

As CEO of Night and Day Vending, which distributes breathalyzer vending machines called IntoxBoxes, Stewart has entered several student entrepreneurship competitions in association with Mississippi State University. Jesus J. Valdez, a marketing research associate with MSU’s Thad Cochran Endowment for Entrepreneurship, said Stewart not only placed first in the MSU Investing in Innovation’s Student Elevator Pitch Competition, but also third in the student division of the Mississippi Technology Alliance’s New Venture Challenge in Jackson.

Valdez said Stewart’s competitive spirit stretches across the business spectrum and beyond.

“Every competition (Stewart has) been in, he’s placed in, which speaks volumes,” Valdez said. “Last night, there was a competition in bowling with a lot of student entrepreneurs, and he came in second.”

via MSU celebrates success in student entrepreneurship | Starkville Daily News.

2012 Wharton Venture Award Winners | Entrepreneurship Programs

Thomas Baldwin at the Wharton Journal has brief interviews with the 5 recipients of the Wharton Venture Award.

After a highly competitive selection process, five student-led ventures were selected to receive the 2012 Wharton Venture Award (WVA). The WVA Program provides selected student entrepreneurs with $10,000 in funding to pursue the development of their ventures during the summer between their first and second years. WVA is one of several high-impact programs sponsored by Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs (WEP) as part of its ongoing mission to foster entrepreneurship and innovation throughout the Wharton community.

1Docway (Samir Malik WG ‘13)

What: 1DocWay is an online doctor’s office. We connect hospitals with underserved patient populations, through our lightweight technology and implementation service. With 1DocWay, rural, elderly, disabled, and busy patients can schedule appointments online and see their doctor through our secure video chat platform. In doing so, we help hospitals expand their reach of services into underserved areas, building hospitals’ referral base; we work with underserved care facilities to increase access to specialist physicians and improve community health/wellness; and we help physicians improve scheduling flexibility and revenue by expanding their patient pool.

Inspiration: I had always been a start-up kind of guy. I had experience with a few prior startups and when I saw an opportunity to innovate in healthcare, from my perch as a healthcare consultant, I dove right in. Healthcare is a huge space in need of disruption.

Wharton: The HCM program has been a fantastic resource in that I have been able to connect to numerous brilliant colleagues who bring a wide range of perspectives on the healthcare space. My business has got many holes shot through it because of peers in HCM and that has made it stronger and more robust.

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Business Contest Innovation | 2012 Maryland Pinterest Pitch Contest | Gov O’Malley

7 years ago I wrote a paper that included the case of Wisconsin as the first state hosting a business plan competition. Today, I learned via a student @georgemasonU that Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland was hosting a business plan contest on Pinterest. Brilliant, Simple, Fun!

Governor O’Malley with UMD President Wallace Loh and UMD Student Entrepreneur at the Cupids Cup in College Park. 30 March 2012

I saw O’Malley speak at the Cupid’s Cup a few weeks ago (see pic) and he was pretty hyped up about his state (where I live) and all of the things going on there for entrepreneurship. This latest turn is great! From Governor O’Malley’s office:

The contest will allow participants to pitch their businesses using 10 images on a Pinterest board. Winners will be featured on Governor Martin O’Malley’s Pinterest page and will also receive a prize courtesy of our generous partners at the Baltimore Angels.

Contest Guidelines and Rules

Submissions will consist of a maximum of 10 images arranged on a Pinterest board.

Images must be credited to the source and follow all copyright rules.

This contest is restricted to Maryland residents, students attending a Maryland University or College and Maryland based businesses.

All submissions must be received by April 30, 2012 at 5 p.m. (Eastern).

Board Categories

Pitches must be made in one of the following two categories:

Student Entrepreneurs: This category is limited to students enrolled in a K-12 or post secondary program at a Maryland school, college and/or University.

Bootstrappers: This category is limited to people and organizations who have not have raised money outside of family and friends.

The Awards

Submissions will be showcased on Governor Martin O’Malley’s website. Boards and pins will be available for public comment.

Following the public comment period, a panel of judges will select a first place and second place winner for each of the two categories.

First place winners will receive a MacBook Air and second place winners will receive an iPad courtesy of our generous partners at the Baltimore Angels. First place winners will also be featured on Governor Martin O’Malley’s official Pinterest page.

via 2012 Maryland Pinterest Pitch Contest.

Biggest Innovation in Higher Education Since Elective: The Future of Badges

When Thomas Jefferson and colleagues introduced the elective system at the University of VA, they radically altered the future of higher education in the US and globally. Will badges do the same thing? The Chronicle of Higher Education has an excellent commentary by Kevin Carey on badges and a recent badge competition. Carey at the Chronicle, A Future Full of Badges:

Meanwhile, across the mountains, in Silicon Valley, the Mozilla Foundation was also thinking about the future. Mozilla, a nonprofit organization built around the ethos of the open Internet, created the popular Firefox Web browser, which anyone can download, free. Along with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla is sponsoring a competition for the development of digital “open badges.” The first winners were announced last month, and one of them was the UC-Davis sustainable-agriculture program.

What is a digital badge, exactly? The MacArthur foundation says it’s “a validated indicator of accomplishment, skill, quality or interest,” which calls to mind the colorful pieces of cloth that Girl Scouts sew onto their sashes. But that’s a simplification that borders on meaninglessness. The winning Davis entry describes something far more sophisticated and important.

Instead of being built around major requirements and grades in standard three-credit courses, the Davis badge system is based on the sustainable-agriculture program’s core competencies—”systems thinking,” for example. It is designed to organize evidence of both formal and informal learning, from within traditional higher education and without.

Say you’re an employer considering a job candidate. Under “systems thinking,” the applicant’s badge portfolio would include some of the UC-Davis courses he’s passed, along with grades. But it would also include evidence of the applicant’s specific skills, like “integrated pest management,” which he might have learned working on a farm. Other badges would describe workshops attended, awards won, and specific projects completed. Each badge would allow the employer to click through to more detailed levels of evidence and explanation—documents, assessment results, hyperlinks, video, and more.

The badge system, moreover, isn’t just a transcript, CV, and work portfolio rolled together into a cool digital package. It’s also a way to structure the process of education itself. Students will be able to customize learning goals within the larger curricular framework, integrate continuing peer and faculty feedback about their progress toward achieving those goals, and tailor the way badges and the metadata within them are displayed to the outside world. Students won’t just earn badges—they’ll build them, in an act of continuous learning. Continue reading

Cupid’s Cup 2012 | Zombie Races | Food Prep Ed | 3D Sound Production

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)