01 Aug 2002
HBS Business Plan Contest Keeps Entrepreneurial Spirit AliveTopics:
On April 29, the HBS community gathered in Burden Auditorium for the final
presentations and judging of the School's sixth annual
Business Plan Contest. At the end of the afternoon, two
winners were announced: FishLogic in the traditional track
and BEST Education Partners in the social enterprise track,
defined as any organization whose core activities address
Each winning team received $10,000 in cash as well as $10,000
in in-kind accounting and legal services to get its venture
up and running. For the fourth year, the winner of the traditional
track was also awarded the Dubilier Prize, established in
honor of the late Martin Dubilier (MBA '52), cofounder
of the LBO firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.
The HBS Business Plan Contest was developed by students
in 1996 with the cooperation of faculty and MBA Career Services
to educate students in the process of creating and evaluating
new business ventures. This year, thirty teams submitted
business plans to be judged by a distinguished panel of
business leaders, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists.
In a semifinal round of judging on April 5, also known as
Super Friday, ten traditional track teams and
four social enterprise teams advanced to the final round.
From there, four traditional track and two social enterprise
teams made the cut.
Traditional track winner FishLogic plans to produce programmable
signal processing chips that would eventually be used in
everything from cell phones to ultrasound image processing.
Founders Patrick George, Gonçal Pagan, Javier Segovia
(all MBA '02), and Benjamin Vigoda, a Ph.D. student
at MIT, hope to produce faster, more powerful chips at a
lower cost than those currently on the market.
Three traditional track runners-up shared awards of cash
and in-kind services. These included Aprendo, a service
that verifies education and employment data; Empower, a
specialty merchandiser of innovative lifestyle
products for people with disabilities; and Music Games International,
a company developing high-quality interactive and educational
games based on music.
BEST Education Partners, the social enterprise track winner,
plans to create a for-profit education management company
operating charter and contract K12 public schools.
Winning was very affirming and gave us a renewed energy
to carry out our plan, explained Matthew Mugo Fields
(MBA '02), a member of the team along with classmate
Lucas Klein and Jason Green, a 2002 graduate of Penn's
Wharton School of Business. The runner-up in the social
enterprise track was The Unison Project, a group designed
to mobilize the talents of artists and music industry professionals
to assist battered women and their children.
Previous Business Plan Contests have produced successful
companies such as Bang Networks, a leading provider of technologies
and services enabling the real-time Internet; Finale, an
upscale restaurant that serves desserts and beverages; and
Low Cost Eyeglasses, a nonprofit organization that makes
inexpensive and easy-to-purchase eyeglasses available to
the one billion people in the world in need.
In his remarks to the students and attendees, judge Michael
Cronin (MBA '77), cofounder and managing partner of
Presidio Capital, noted that today's emerging
companies will be
the winners of the future. In a less-than-stellar
economic climate, he continued, exceptional entrepreneurs
will emerge, because it will take greater amounts
of patience, perseverance, and passion
for each of these ventures to be a success.
— Lee-Ann Landis
Class of MBA 2002, Section D
Class of MBA 2002, Section I
Class of MBA 1994, Section F
Class of MBA 2002, Section F
Class of MBA 1999, Section E
Class of MBA 2002, Section E