Entrepreneurs Pitch Big Ideas at Competition
From Indian food trucks to automated parking systems, UT Dallas students recently shared new business ideas that they hope will meet consumer needs, attract financial backers, and launch them into a successful career.
Nearly 300 students participated in the 2015 Business Idea Competition, which was organized by the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE) at the Naveen Jindal School of Management. The annual competition gives undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to develop and present their business ideas while competing for $20,000 in cash and scholarship prizes.
“This year’s business idea competition was the largest and most successful event we have had,” said Jeremy Vickers, executive director of the IIE. “All of the finalists were prepared to defend their startup ideas against difficult questions from our amazing judging panel.”
Past winners of the event have gone on to create successful companies and have competed for additional prize money and financial support.
The top three undergraduate teams and the top three graduate teams presented their cases at the finals event to an audience of approximately 800 people at the lecture hall of the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building. The ideas were judged by four entrepreneurs who have had success in developing new companies.
One of the judges, Mark Cuban, is an entrepreneur who owns the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA and is one of the “sharks” on ABC’s “Shark Tank.“
He told students that there’s a lot of hard work involved in starting a new business.
“The idea is the easy part. We all have good business ideas,” Cuban said. “The hard part is the execution of that idea. There are a lot of pieces; there are a lot of decisions; there’s a lot of thought that’s going to go into what you do.”
The other judges were:
- Swapnil Bora MBA’11, winner of the 2010 Business Idea Competition and co-founder of ilumi solutions.
- Eve Mayer, CEO of Social Media Delivered, a company that provides consulting, training and fully managed social media services for organizations.
- Lea Nesbit, CEO and co-founder of Natural Dental Implants, which makes a nonsurgical tooth replacement system.
Bora previously pitched his business idea on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and secured financial support from Cuban. Bora said potential entrepreneurs should begin when they’re young.
“That’s when you can take risks and you don’t have much to lose. You’re going to get slapped and will have to make sacrifices when you get involved in entrepreneurship, so it’s up to you to decide at what age you want to get involved,” he said.
The winners of the graduate-level competition were Kiran Devaprasad and William White, who created a concept called TraceIT — a system that tracks drivers and loads in the car- and truck-hauling industry. Devaprasad and White both are part of the Jindal School’s Executive MBA program and Master of Science in Innovation and Entrepreneurship program. For their first-place award, the two won a prize of $5,000.
Computer science freshman Raviteja Lingineni won the undergraduate competition with his company called WeBe, which uses an electronic tag to provide preferences and information to various smart devices. Lingineni also won a $5,000 award.
“The Business Idea Competition was a great way for me to get started — to get my hands dirty and learn now to run a business,” Lingineni said. “I think a competition like this is very valuable. Without this event, it could have taken a couple of years for me to have been on a stage like that, presenting to so many people,” he said.
The competition was sponsored by ilumi, Ericsson, Axxess, Silicon Valley Bank, Snappy Salads, Polsinelli and DFW Excellerator.
2015 Business Idea Competition Winners
Graduate CategoryFirst Place, $5,000 prize: TraceIT; Kiran Devaprasad, William White.Business idea: Phone app to track drivers and loads.Second Place, $2,500 prize: Dosa Wala @ UTD; Ritu Pandey, Pavan Kumar Kanteti.Business idea: Indian food truck.Third Place, $1,500 prize: TravelHop: Olia Bosovik, Neha Kashyap, Jeanne Whitesides, Chiao Chang. Business idea: Budget-focused travel site.People’s Choice Award, $1,000 prize: Dosa Wala @ UTD.
Undergraduate CategoryFirst Place, $5,000 prize: WeBe; Raviteja Lingineni. Business idea: Electronic tag to provide information to smart devices.Second Place, $2,500 prize: ClassBuds; Noa Barazani.Business idea: Mobile app to connect students in classes.Third Place: Torus, $1,500 prize: Christian Cortes, Jai Ghanekar, Hans Ajieren.Business idea: App-based parking system.People’s Choice Award, $1,000 prize: Torus.
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].