Vandy Exec MBA’s Win Jungle BPlan Contest

I think this is the first time I have seen a team of Executive MBA Students win a business plan competition. According to a report on VUCast (Vanderbilt’s University Network), a team of executive MBA students from the Owen Graduate School of Management, won the Jungle Business Plan Challenge.

Check out the members of this team (remember this is an exec MBA program, meaning these people are usually older than typical MBA candidates and likely earning the degree to improve performance at their current job):

The team developed a proposal for a start-up company, Organ Transplant Technology, to market a new method for preserving and transporting donor organs. The company would combine a newly developed perfusion solution for preserving transplanted organs with a transportable compressed-air driven perfusion system to replace the currently used method of transporting organs on ice in coolers.

Members of the winning team, all of whom graduate May 9 from Vanderbilt’s Executive MBA program, are Dr. Ravi Chari, professor of surgery and cancer biology and chief of the division of hepatobiliary surgery and liver transplantation at Vanderbilt; Ted Klee, vice president of Square D/Schneider Electric Company; Andrew Bordas, director, warehouse management systems, Ingram Book; and Fernando Sanchez, chief financial officer of Gibson Guitar. Clayton Knox, a Vanderbilt medical student, also assisted the team with the project.

A doctor (cancer surgeon/dept. head at Vandy) and the freakin’ CFO of Gibson Guitar? Thats krazy. That being said, as I think about this competition and the winner, I wonder, should people enter business plan competition is they have no intention of launching the idea/firm that they enter into the competition.

I don’t know if the team above is going to move forward with their organ transplant firm, but given their full time jobs (exec MBAs are on campus even less than part-times) I can only assume they are sticking with their day jobs.

Was it a mistake for the judges to give them top prize? Is this unfair to those who entered the competition and wanted to actually launch their firms?

I think the act of participating in the competition and exploring and sharing an idea and approach is valuable for both the participants, judges, and audience. If people are annoyed that some winners/entrants have no intention of launching their entries, then those annoyed people have to beat them in the competitions.

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