May 09, 2016

2016 Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge: And the winners are ...

Challenge illo (1)

We are pleased to introduce you to the winners of the 18th annual Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge.

The winners’ circle contains concepts in healthcare, mobile commerce, big data, retail, human resources and law. To rise to the top, winners had to make a strong case for how they planned to execute their business plan.

South Florida is often recognized as one of the nation’s most entrepreneurial communities, and the 2016 winners and contestants represent the passion and diversity of the region’s emerging businesses. This year, a record 255 entries competed in our three tracks of the Miami Herald Challenge, sponsored by Florida International University’s Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center, and about 250 people attended our free Business Plan Bootcamp in March. The three-page plans were judged by experts from our community — successful entrepreneurs, investors, executives and academics — as well as by the public via our popular People’s Pick video competition.

For the FIU track, the judging included a live pitch session for the six finalists, which helped determine the final winners. Each team received up to five minutes to present their companies, followed by time for Q&A and feedback.

And the winners are ...

Community Track: Candidate.Guru, big data for human resources, won first place; Ride2MD, the Lyft for medical transport, came in second; and Shoes Dsire, a robust tool for shoe lovers, was third. Candidate.Guru was also named the Challenge Champion for having the highest judge rating in the contest.

FIU Track: ValueDOC, an online health and wellness marketplace for cash patients, won first. Second place was Jurbid, a platform for legal services; and SkyBOX Checkout, an international e-commerce tool, was third.

High School Track: Digifeet, a solution for flat feet by a School of Advanced Studies student, was first. Smart-BagPack, a backpack reimagined by a Ransom Everglades student, was second; and RentAll, a peer-to-peer renting marketplace being developed by a trio from American Heritage, was third.

The weeklong People’s Pick, which attracted 12,646 votes, heated up social-media networks with images of sexy shoes, cars, kids and dogs in the quest to attract votes. In the FIU track, Joust, an automotive-services quote platform run by FIU students, tried to fight off Pooch Perks, a goodie-box subscription service for pampered pets. But in the end dogs won over cars. Pooch Perks drew 1,707 votes, while Joust fetched 1,556. ValueDOC was in third place.

In the Community Track’s People’s Pick competition, Ride2MD coasted to victory with 1,927 votes, but not without a fight from second-place Shoes Dsire, with 1,709 votes. Social-media followers were treated to shoe eye candy throughout the week. Coming in third was AlphaTechBlocks, creator of smart toys for kids.

What separated today’s featured winners from the pack? The quality of entries was so high that the written business plans scored well in all key areas, such as marketing strategies, financials, management teams, market opportunity, value propositions and growth plans. With many of the plans that were entered, judges liked the ideas, but the plans themselves were not developed enough to win.

Some of today’s winners are first-timers; others are serial entrepreneurs or professionals with decades of industry experience. But all are in the early stages of their businesses — we’ll be following their progress!

Read the accompanying profiles of the 2016 Challenge winners linked above and on MiamiHerald.com/challenge.

May 01, 2016

Last day to vote in Business Plan Challenge People's Pick - send a startup to winner's circle

An online platform for automotive services, the Lyft for healthcare, a tool for shoe addicts. Or maybe it’s a logistics software creator, a tool for hiring managers to measure cultural fit, an online legal marketplace, or a monthly goody box for the pampered pooch? How about interactive alphabet blocks, an international e-commerce checkout solution, a health and wellness marketplace for cash patients or a tool to negotiate consumer debt? We’ve even got selfie gift wrap.

Who is building the best new business? You’re telling us!

The top six finishers in the Community and FIU Tracks of the 18th annual Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge are competing for the The People’s Pick. View the videos and scroll down to vote here hrld.us/BizPlan2016 up to once per day through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, May 1. Follow their creative tweets on @ndahlberg.

More than 11,500 votes have been cast so far. Winners in each track will be announced May 9.

The contenders are:

COMMUNITY TRACK

AlphaTechBlocks, pitched by Marilu Kernan and Taryn Keim, will create digital interactive alphabet blocks. With the accompanying mobile apps, kids learn ABCs and words in English and Spanish.

Candidate.Guru, pitched by Christopher Daniels, is a big data-analytics solution that can predict a culture fit between corporate hiring managers and prospective job seekers without the need for surveys and assessment tools.

Gift Wrap My Face, pitched by Vanessa Clavijo and Aryel Rivero, is the cure for the common gift. It allows the gift-giver to design his or her own selfie wrapping paper.

Ride2MD, pitched by George Fernandez, is the Lyft for healthcare, providing an innovative solution that eliminates wasted time and effort by streamlining the transportation process with real-time technology that offers complete transparency.

Shoes Dsire, pitched by Jane Bernacca, is a dynamic social commerce tool that combines cutting-edge visual search technology with crowdsourcing to provide a faster and more personalized experience for shoe shoppers.

TradeLanes, pitched by Vijay Harrell, automates document preparation for exporters. Exporters can orchestrate demand planning, supplier performance, inventory management and end-to-end logistics in one application.

FIU TRACK

Joust, pitched by Franco Aquino, Julio Benavides and Jonas Erthal, is an online platform that facilitates the quoting and payment process for automotive services.

Jurbid, pitched by Aydin Bonabi and David Johns, is an online legal marketplace that seamlessly connects clients with lawyers.

Pooch Perks, pitched by Tina Vidal, is pet-parent purchased, dog-tested and veterinarian-approved; it provides a monthly customizable box of carefully curated goods for the pampered pooch.

Settleitsoft, pitched by Rich Rudner, offers a free, web-based debt negotiation platform that will help resolve the global economic problem of consumer default on contractual obligations.

SkyBox Checkout, pitched by Taylor Philippi, is an anywhere-to-anywhere international e-commerce checkout solution with shipment to 200 countries and territories and multicurrency in 140 local currencies.

ValueDOC, pitched by Alain Fernandez, is an online health and wellness marketplace for cash patients.

April 08, 2016

University of Miami's Business Plan Competition: And the winners are...

Groovy Guitar Picks-Undergraduate2

Groovy Guitar: Undergraduate student Grand Prize winner Ryan Pollowitz

 

AlulA-Graduate
AlulA; (L-R) Graduate student Grand Prize winners Jason Keasler, Thomas Byrd and Joe Rjeili

 

Amy & Her Friends-Alumni

Amy & Her Friends: (L-R) Alumni Grand Prize winners Andrew Aidman and Melanie DiPietro

Innovations in the areas of guitar picks, aerospace and cinema have taken top honors in the 2016 University of Miami Business Plan Competition, hosted by the University’s School of Business Administration. The competition winners, honored in an awards ceremony April 7, took home a combined total of $54,500 in first, second, third and other prizes.

Grand Prizes

Ryan Pollowitz won the Grand Prize and $10,000 in the undergraduate student category for Groovy Guitar Picks, a company that gives old, scratched vinyl records new life by turning them into high-quality guitar picks. In the graduate student category, Joe Rjeili, Jason Keasler, and Thomas Byrd took home the Grand Prize and $10,000 for their venture, AlulA Aerospace, whose patent-pending technology will securely gather and send to data centers, airplane black box data while still in air. And in the University of Miami alumni category, Andrew Aidman and Melanie DiPietro won the Grand Prize and $10,000 for Amy & Her Friends, a live-action movie that tells a story of a middle school girl’s journey to make friends.

Second Place

Second Place in the undergraduate category and $5,000 went to Justin Levy and Tommy Rappa for U-brella, an automated umbrella rental kiosk that can be located, and reservations made, via mobile app. Second Place in the graduate category and $5,000 went to Kristina Francillon of Savert Food, which manufactures a line of all-natural seasoning pastes for home chefs and is already in a few stores and farmers markets. Second Place in the alumni category was a tie with each team winning $3,750. One prize went to Sabrina Taldone, Bhaumik Shah, and Lokesh Ramamoorthi of Pathologix, an online platform that allows physicians in India to obtain real-time consultations with pathological sub-specialists in the U.S.; the other went to Carlos Lovera, George Wayne, Mark Jacobs, Anthony Perez-Sanz, and Aaron Bronshtein for Flolink, a venture developing a medical device that automates patient monitoring. 

Third Place

Third Place in the undergraduate category and $2,500 went to Jaqueline Gulla and Dominic Annecca for On-Demand Wash, an Uber-like laundry service phone app. Third Place in the graduate category and $2,500 went to David Getz for Fly Feet, a sock company that will introduce patented Snap Socks that snap together with a heat-proof plastic snap so they don't get lost in the laundry. 

In addition to the undergraduate, graduate and alumni category prizes, the Paul K. Sugrue Entrepreneurial Spirit Award and $1,000 was presented to Paula Landron and Michaela Senior of FUOCO, a pizzeria for the late-night crowd, made out of a shipping container. 

The new Heffner Spirit of Social Entrepreneurship Award and its $1,000 prize was awarded to Ashley Wrushen of Nutritexts, a free texting service for low-income families to purchase local, fresh and nutritious produce directly from food producers and retailers.  

“This year’s presentations were very sophisticated,” said Susy Alvarez-Diaz, director of entrepreneurship programs at the University of Miami School of Business. “Having events on campus such as Shark Tank tryouts and the coursework that involves practice pitching really prepares the students. This was not their first at-bat.” 

The Business Plan Competition started last fall when concept papers were submitted to the judging committee. Ultimately 15 final teams were selected to present to the judges on April 6-7, with the winners named on the second day. This year’s presenting sponsor was the Finker Frenkel Legacy Foundation.

Now in its 14th year, the Business Plan Competition is open to all University of Miami students and alumni. Past winners in the competition have gone on to build their ventures into businesses that have garnered national attention. They include such companies College Hunks Hauling Junk and My Therapy Journal.com, both of which have been featured on ABC Television's “Shark Tank,” a reality program in which entrepreneurs share their business ideas with a group of five self-made millionaires in hopes of getting venture capital to help them attain similar levels of success.

March 25, 2016

5 reasons to enter the Business Plan Challenge

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

You have about a few more days to participate in the 2016 Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge — and a little more time if you are a high school student. If you are on the fence about whether to enter, jump over. Here are five reasons to get moving:

  1. Motivation. Perhaps you’ve been meaning to write a short business plan. Well, this might just be that kick in the behind you need. Writing down your business strategy and road map will help you focus, and give you a document for potential partners or investors. Whether you are entering the Community Track — open to all of South Florida; the FIU Track — open to students and alumni of that university; or the High School Track — which is also open to eighth-graders this year, entering the Challenge will help you get moving.
  2. Publicity. If you are one of the top three winners in each track or the “People’s Pick,” you will be profiled in a special section of the Miami Herald’s Business Monday announcing the winners, in print and online. If you are in the top six in the Community or FIU Tracks, you will participate in the People’s Pick, our popular video contest hosted on MiamiHerald.com [See last year’s video contest here.] We also announce our first cut, the semi-finalists, to keep the interest going. Social networking is a key component of our contest. Next year, we will look back on our winners and we follow them for years to come.
  3. Feedback and education. I’ll share feedback from the judges with you if you request it, whether or not you are a finalist. Winners will also receive opportunities for entrepreneurial education. If you are chosen for the aforementioned People’s Pick contest, that’s a terrific opportunity to polish your elevator pitch. If you are entering the High School Track, remember that winning sure looks good on a college application.
  4. Exposure and connections. It can’t hurt to have your plan read by South Florida’s top entrepreneurial experts, including serial entrepreneurs and investors (judges’ bios are at MiamiHerald.com/challenge). Sometimes long-lasting mentorships are developed. Some winners have been introduced to investors or potential partners; others gained key customers. If you are one of the winners, you will receive other opportunities for mentorship and connections — for example, the top Miami-Dade winner will have the opportunity to compete in the finals of the American Entrepreneurship Award (www.americanaward.com), with a $25,000 prize, and top finalists will receive tickets to the eMerge Americas conference. All winners will be honored at a luncheon with the judges and business staff and invited to FIU’s Hall of Fame reception honoring entrepreneurs.
  5. Pride. I know you’re passionate about your concept — and aren’t you just a wee bit competitive?

The deadline is March 28 for the Community and FIU Tracks; the High School Track deadline is April 4. Contest rules are at MiamiHerald.com/challenge.

If you entered last year and weren’t one of the top three winners, regroup and try again. Business ideas in the ideation stage are fine for this contest. Class projects are welcome, and we love high school entries.

Do you have questions? Email ndahlberg@MiamiHerald.com or tweet @ndahlberg.


March 19, 2016

Tick-tock, Business Plan Challenge deadline looms - your questions answered

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Planning to enter the Business Plan Challenge? Time is ticking away.

We offer three tracks to win our contest, which is sponsored by the Florida International University Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center. There is a community track, open to all South Floridians; an FIU track for the university’s students and alumni; and a high school track. You can enter our contest with a business idea or an existing business if it is not more than 2 years old. The deadline is March 28 for the community and FIU tracks and April 4 for the high school track.

Here are some common questions we have received.

I entered last year but did not win. May I enter again?

Yes, we welcome repeaters, as long as you were not one of the top three winners or the People’s Pick and your business isn’t more than 2 years old. Several of our winners of the past did not bring home the win the first year they entered. Freshen up that plan and try again.

May I enter both the community and FIU tracks with the same plan?

Nope, pick one. For the FIU track, at least one member of your top management team must be student or alumnus of the university.

Is there a required template I should follow for my entry?

The short answer is no. Your entry is a three-page business plan, with one addendum page allowed for a chart or graphic, and we allow people the freedom to send it in as they would like. But we suggest you consider including all or most of this information: brief product or service description; problem it is solving in the market (market need); a little about your target market and competition; relevant experience of your team; your business model — how you will make money — and growth strategy (how will you scale it); your marketing strategy (how will you get the word out and sell it); and some financials, for example your startup costs and three years of projections. It can be done. Keep each section brief — bulleted items are your friend. Many use their extra page for their financial chart.

Some people download templates for business plans (easily found in a Google search) and include the categories most relevant. Some use an executive summary they already have written and add to it. People who already have investor decks already have the info in a concise way — just put it into a three-page word doc and you are done. If you are starting from scratch, good for you! You have probably been meaning to do it anyway, and it will be a roadmap you can continue to update in months and years to come. Find the rules of the Challenge here.

Why the page limit?

Short business plans are in vogue, actually. Investors (and judges) tell me they want the information fast and brief and will ask for more info as they need it. Learning to be concise is both a science and an art, and our judges (who are often in positions where they read a LOT of business plans) have told me over the years that in real life, if you don’t capture their attention in the first page or even the first paragraph, they will move on. Pro tip: Ask someone who doesn’t know anything about your business or business concept to read your plan, or at least the first few paragraphs, to make sure they understand it.

Also, though our judges are almost super-human, we can’t ask them to judge hundreds of full business plans. You can meet our judges here.

What is the biggest mistake people make when they enter?

A lot of entrants spend too much of their precious three pages talking about all the features of their product or service and don’t include enough about the problem it solves, your target market, your business model and how you plan to make money, your team, your financials and your marketing strategy.

Another judge comment I see on a lot of plans: Think bigger. A lot of entrants have concepts with market growth potential but don’t express how they would expand beyond their initial markets. A lot of advice was shared at our recent Business Plan Bootcamp – read about it here.

Any other tips?

Yep. Show your passion. Make every word count. Keep each section brief: Bullet points are your friend. Don’t forget financials: Judges want to see you have thought through startup and operating costs and would like to see projections for at least the first three years. Don’t wait till the last minute. Here are some good reasons to enter.

May I enter more than one business idea?

Yes, as long as they are separate entries.

Why don’t you have a social entrepreneurship track?

We welcome social entrepreneurial companies in all our tracks. We’ve had several winners in recent years with social-impact missions, particularly in the high school track. The plan must be for a for-profit business, not a nonprofit.

My daughter is in the eighth grade. May she enter in the high school track?

Yes, we welcome ambitious middle school students in the high school track. Good luck to her!

Ready, set, enter! Find everything you need on MiamiHerald.com/challenge.

Have a question? Email ndahlberg@miamiherald.com and put Challenge in the subject line.

February 09, 2016

Sign up for free Business Plan Bootcamp March 7

Melissa Krinzman (2)Join us March 7 for a lively discussion and Q&A with our panel of experts sharing advice on launching your business, formulating a winning short business summary and pitching to investors. Also hear from a couple of previous Business Plan Challenge winners about their entrepreneurial experiences. You don’t have to enter the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge to attend our Bootcamp, but of course we hope you will.

Our discussion will be led by:

Melissa Krinzman, the Managing Partner of Krillion Ventures, a $50 million Miami-based early stage venture capital firm that actively invests in financial services, transportation, logistics, real estate and health startups. Her fund has invested in 17 early-stage companies, nine of which have South Florida roots. She is also a veteran Business Plan Challenge judge.

Mark Kingdon, a three-time tech CEO (Organic, SecondLife and NiftyThrifty) and an investor in two dozen early stage companies. His portfolio includes Twitter, TheRealReal, OfferUp, Refinery20 and three Miami-based companies (EveryPost, Sktchy and HYP3R).

Mark Kingdon (1)This event will be at 6 p.m. March 7 at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus Auditorium, Room 1261 in Building 1.

The Bootcamp is free but registration is required. When you register, the form will allow you to tell us the questions you would most like our panel to answer. Don’t be shy – this way we can tailor the program as much as possible to our audience. Here is a report on last year’s Bootcamp.

Register here: http://businessplanbootcamp.bpt.me

Questions: ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

April 27, 2015

Meet the winners of the Business Plan Challenge

We are pleased to introduce you to the winners of the 17th annual Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge.

The winners’ circle contains concepts in healthcare, antiques, food, tech and social entrepreneurship. To rise to the top, winners had to make a strong case for how they planned to execute their business plan.

South Florida is often recognized as one of the nation’s most entrepreneurial communities, and the 2015 winners and contestants represent the passion and diversity of the region’s emerging businesses. This year, the contest attracted a record 248 entries in our three tracks of the Miami Herald Challenge, sponsored by Florida International University’s Eugenio Pino and Family Global Entrepreneurship Center, and many attended our Business Plan Bootcamp in February. The three-page plans were judged by experts from our community — successful entrepreneurs, investors, executives and academics — as well as by the public via our popular People’s Pick video competition.

For the FIU track, the judging included a live pitch session for the six finalists, which helped determine the final winners. Each team received up to five minutes to present their companies, followed by time for Q&A and feedback.

The HighBoy, an online marketplace for high-end antiques and fine art, took first place in the Community Track. Room2care, a home health service powered by the sharing economy, took first place in the FIU Track, and was also named Challenge Champion, based on judge scores and People’s Pick voting. And the winner in the High School Track — a popular contest this year with 109 entries — was Teenography, a photography service that employs teen shutterbugs.

Stow Simple, an on-demand storage service, and Juana la Iguana, a learning platform in Spanish for toddlers, took second and third, respectively, in the Community Track.

Wuelto, an online mall for Latin America, and Senzu Foods, a food product line for foods made with insects, took second and third in the FIU Track.

USAVT, a transportation system powered by veterans, and MyScholarship, a scholarship-finding service, won second and third in the High School Track, which is co-sponsored by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship South Florida.

In the People’s Pick, which attracted a total 13,002 votes, Juana la Iguana kept the lead most of the week and won in the Community Track, with 1,804 votes, with Coastal Risk Consulting, an online analysis for flood risk, and Stow Simple taking second and third place. On the FIU Track, Court Buddy, a platform for affordable legal help, came from behind the final weekend to win, with 2,168 votes, with Room2Care in second place and Wuelto in third.

What separated today’s featured winners from the pack? The written business plans scored well in more key areas, such as marketing strategies, financials, management teams, market opportunity and growth plans. With many of the plans that were entered, judges liked the ideas, but the plans themselves were not developed enough to win.

Some of the winners and finalists are first-timers; others are serial entrepreneurs with decades of industry experience. But all are in the early stages of their businesses — we’ll be watching how they do!

Read the accompanying profiles to learn more about the winners.

Meet the 2015 Business Plan Challenge judges

 

Business Plan Challenge finalists represent South Florida’s trending industries

View the videos from 2015 Business Plan Challenge Finalists

 

 

High School Track winners:

Duo’s app would simplify college-application process

Teenography: Weston teen’s business lets other students learn, profit

Trucking company plan salutes veterans

FIU Track:

Room2Care: Cost-sharing program gives seniors an alternative to assisted living

Out to change how Latin Americans shop

Senzu Foods team sees big appetite for insect-based foods

Service brings access to legal system to the people

 

Community Track

Lovable Juana la Iguana stars in apps for kids

To see the opportunity for Stow Simple, look up

The HighBoy: Online antiques marketplace reflects results

April 19, 2015

Last day to vote in the Business Plan Challenge!

Indexes to measure the stability of fine art and the impact of climate change, an antiques marketplace, an online mall, solutions for your thousands of photos and storage-impaired condos. A “shared economy” company for long-term care, a learning platform for Hispanic kids, a tool to find an affordable lawyer, a business software platform, a campus coffee house/incubator – we’ve even got a food product line made with bugs.

Who is building the best new business? You tell us!

Take a look at the top six finishers in the Community and FIU Tracks of the 17th annual Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, and we are asking you to vote for your favorite plans in The People’s Pick competition.

To vote for your favorite contestants, here’s what to do:

Click on the top story on MiamiHerald.com/Challenge to bring up the voting page. View the short videos of the finalists’ elevator pitches. The six selections in the FIU Track follow the Community Track.

Then scroll down to the bottom of the page to cast your ballot, voting for one video in each track.

Lastly, get out the vote! Voting closes at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, April 19.

The top voted team from each track track will be awarded the People’s Pick and honored in the April 27 Business Monday section along with the judges’ selections.

Vote here – hrld.us/BizPlan2015 – or go to MiamiHerald.com/challenge to find the voting page.

The contenders are:

Community Track

Accidental Archivist, pitched by Stephanie Norman. Got photos? This is a free platform full of training and tips from industry leaders, a wide array of products and services, and a community of all ages who share tips, rate products and connect with one another.

Art Preservation Index, pitched by Emily MacDonald-Korth. The Art Preservation Index, or APIx, is a stability rating system for fine art, based on its patent-pending rating algorithm, comprehensive database of art material information, and proprietary mobile art evaluation software.

Coastal Risk Consulting, pitched by Albert Slap. A comprehensive online service called the “Coastal Risk Rapid Assessment” provides a property’s future flood risk, changing the conversation around climate change.

Juana la Iguana, pitched by Tania Gilinski. This learning and entertainment platform will help parents transmit to their kids their values, culture, music and Spanish vocabulary. It looks to launch 20 applications in the next four years.

Stow Simple, pitched by Silvia Camps and Jorge Camps. With the click of a button, Stow Simple will pick up, safely store and return your belongings, with prices comparable to traditional self-storage. The initial target market will be city high-rise dwellers.

The HighBoy, pitched by Douglas Scott and Olga Granda-Scott. Leveraging deep industry experience of its founders, The HighBoy delivers a streamlined method for sourcing and purchasing exceptional antiques, fine art and other historic design items online.

FIU Track

Court Buddy, pitched by by James Jones Jr. and Kristina Jones. Founded by an attorney, this online legal matchmaking system connects people and businesses with affordable attorneys based on their budgets; it gives people, regardless of background or financial situation, access to a legal system.

FlowKPI, pitched by Luis Caro, Ernesto Ruiz and Giancarlo Zarrillo. This provider of business software wants to redefine the tools businesses rely on to accomplish their goals and achieve their real potential. It plans to develop software-as-a-service solutions for different industries.

Relentless Roasters, pitched by Daniel Choiseul Paguaga. A collaborative workspace and specialty coffee café on the FIU campus would serve as a retail location, roasting facility and educational center focused on entrepreneurship and School of Hospitality-connected activities.

Room2Care.com, pitched by Todd Florin and Richard Ashenoff. Leveraging the power of the sharing economy, this end-to-end platform is designed to connect those who need long-term care with those who can provide care in the local community.

Senzu Foods, pitched by Ricardo Delgado and Nicolexander Garza. This company’s goal is to provide a sustainable solution to food security, public health and environmental concerns by becoming a leading producer and distributor of insect-based food products.

Wuelto, pitched by Alejandro Gomez. This global social e-commerce platform provides users with a going-to-a-mall experience by allowing people to share items with friends while also being able to ask questions and interact with the stores.

WHERE TO VOTE AND WHAT’S NEXT?

To cast your votes for the People’s Pick, go to hrld.us/BizPlan2015.

The winners including the People’s Picks, finalists and semifinalists will be unveiled in a special report in Business Monday on April 27.

April 18, 2015

UM announces Business Plan Competition winners

Innovations in the areas of everyday life improvement, access to higher education, and an invention to prevent urinary tract infections in patients have taken top honors in the University of Miami’s 2015 Business Plan Competition, hosted by the University’s School of Business Administration, and sponsored by The Launch Pad. The competition winners, honored in an awards ceremony April 17, took home a combined total of $52,500 in first, second, third and other prizes.

Dibi - undergradHunter Bihn won the Grand Prize and $10,000 in the undergraduate student category for DiBi, a patented, portable container for diabetics that both carries and disposes insulin pens and needles.

In the graduate student category, Erica Barrios, Phi Ho, and Iman Rabizadeh took home the Grand Prize and $10,000 for their venture, MediTick which prevents urinary tract infections in patients with Meditick - gradurinary catheters.

And in the University of Miami alumni category, Eric Stepansky and David Primach won the Grand Prize and $10,000 for Campus Breeze which tackles higher education access issues.

Second Place in the undergraduate category and $5,000 went to Jake Esposito, Mitchell Pasqualoni Campus breeze - alumniand Courtney Wemyss for Grain, a software that runs iOS and Android devices. Second Place in the graduate category and $5,000 went to Adam Rosen, Alexander Barsan, Sarah Sonny, Danielle Neuman and Sebastian Rivera of HouseCall MD, which offers health care via mobile phone. Second Place in the alumni category and $5,000 went to Kristina Astone and Jennifer Tang of Lavender & Lace, a lavender-based apothecary company.

Third Place in the undergraduate category with $2,500 went to Spencer George and David Silverman for Ubitt LLC which simplifies the purchase of goods. Third Place and $2,500 in the graduate category went to Veronica Fortino, Jordan Greenberg and Carlos Carballosa for Stemcellect, an innovation in dental stem cells; while Third Place and $2,500 in the alumni category went to Christopher Poore for Cornverter, ethanol kits for performance vehicles.

In addition to the undergraduate, graduate and alumni category prizes, the Paul K. Sugrue Entrepreneurial Spirit Award and $1,000 was presented to Charles Tyler Szuchan of PocketDoc, an innovative mobile telehealth company.

“The quality of the business plans presented this year was extremely impressive,” said Susy Alvarez-Diaz, director of entrepreneurship programs at the University of Miami School of Business. “The teams brought forward plans ready to go beyond the ideas phase and right into execution. It makes sense that the entrepreneurial culture of both the School of Business and South Florida region would produce such big thinkers.”

The Business Plan Competition started last fall when 64 concept papers were submitted to the judging committee. Ultimately 42 semifinalists were asked to submit their business plans and after another round of judging 15 final teams were selected to present to the judges on April 15-16, with the winners named the following day. The judges included 15 successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists from South Florida and the Northeast.

Now in its 13th year, the Business Plan Competition is open to all University of Miami students and alumni. Past winners in the competition have gone on to build their ventures into businesses that have garnered national attention. They include such companies as College Hunks Hauling Junk and My Therapy Journal.com, both of which have been featured on ABC Television's “Shark Tank,” a reality program in which entrepreneurs share their business ideas with a group of five self-made millionaires in hopes of getting venture capital to help them attain similar levels of success.

- submitted by the University of Miami

Captions: Top photo: Undergrad category, Dibi -- from left to right:  Susy Alvarez-Diaz, director of the University of Miami School of Business Administration entrepreneurship programs; Nicholas Sando and Jake Elliot, founders of SnagTag (2014 Business Plan Competition); Hunter Bihn, grand prize winner, undergraduate track; and Adrian Alvarez, program director, Univeristy of Miami Launchpad

 

Middle photo: Graduate category, MediTick -- from left to right:  Susy Alvarez-Diaz, director of the University of Miami School of Business Administration entrepreneurship programs; Phi Ho and Iman Rabizadeh, grand prize winners, graduate track; and Adrian Alvarez, program director, Univeristy of Miami Launchpad
 
Third: Alumni category, Campus Breeze -- from left to right: Susy Alvarez-Diaz, director of the University of Miami School of Business Administration entrepreneurship programs; David Primach, grand prize winner, alumni track; and Adrian Alvarez, program director, Univeristy of Miami Launchpad

 

 

 

 

 

April 10, 2015

FAU announces business plan contest winners

RotationManager

From left, FAU President John Kelly; Max Cacchione, CEO of Rotation Manager, first place winner of the entrepreneur track; Dr. Maurice Ferré, co-founder of MAKO Surgical Corp., and Kim Gramm, co-founder and associate vice president of FAU Tech Runway.

 

Florida Atlantic University has announced the winners of the 2015 Business Plan Competition, which concluded today at FAU’s Boca Raton campus. 

First place winner of the student track is SoFla Sunwear, a beach apparel company which set out to distinguish and celebrate the lifestyle that exists in South Florida. Second place went to Hyperbius, LLC, creator of the HyperChiller, a simple device that takes up to 12 ounces of hot coffee fresh out of a single-serve machine down to room temperature within 60 seconds after brewing stops without diluting the coffee’s strength. Third place winner of the student track is TripsCommerce, a SaaS-based system, e-commerce solution for travel operators to manage and automate their business more efficiently and economically, enabling travel operators to establish their business online in minutes without any need for designers or programmers.

First place winner of the entrepreneur track is Rotation Manager, a company that makes clinical rotations in nursing and allied health programs easy and compliant by bringing students, hospitals and colleges into one unified platform. Second place went to Transfasten, a posterior minimally invasive approach to sacroiliac joint fusion to alleviate sacroiliac joint pain. Third place winner in the entrepreneur track is CO2 Conversion/Dioxide Materials, a new chemical value chain that uses waste CO2 and renewable energy instead of oil and gas to provide an inexpensive route to high volume chemicals.

Hosted by the Adams Center for Entrepreneurship and the College of Business, the competition provided the opportunity for participants to vet their business ideas before a panel of successful entrepreneurs, early stage investors and venture capital principals. More than 200 teams originally registered to compete, with judges selecting 16 teams to advance to the final round.

Final round teams in the FAU student track and entrepreneur track competed for a share of more than $200,000 in cash and prizes to launch their business. Red Pepper Group was the event’s presenting sponsor.

The three-day event began with the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) Investor Panel, a culmination of a 30-week program in which students in grades 6-12 developed legitimate businesses and pitched to investors for seed funding. 

At the Kick Off Reception and Elevator Pitch Event, each of the 16 final round teams presented a 90-second elevator pitch, and reception guests voted for their favorite. The winner, Let It Rot, will receive the $5,000 People’s Choice Award sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co. Let It Rot, is a social enterprise working under the already established nonprofit organization, the Palm Beach County Food Bank, and is working to heighten the efficiency of the Food Bank by repurposing their food waste into a marketable worm compost product.

The competition concluded with business plan presentations from the FAU student and entrepreneur tracks and a keynote talk by Dr. Maurice Ferré, co-founder of MAKO Surgical Corp., a world leader in robotic orthopedic surgery.

- information submitted by FAU 

  SoFlaSunwear

From left, FAU President John Kelly; Thomas Gregory, of SoFla Sunwear, first place winner of the student track; Dr. Maurice Ferré, co-founder of MAKO Surgical Corp., and Kim Gramm, co-founder and associate vice president of FAU Tech Runway.