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GW Business Plan Competition Celebrates Five Years
Competition staff, judges, sponsors and former finalists looked back over the last five years and spoke about what’s on the horizon for the competition at its kickoff and birthday reception.
October 17, 2012
A great business idea can come at any moment. That’s why six years ago, John Rollins, adjunct professor of entrepreneurship, began to conceive of a competition open to all students at the university in which they could compete for startup capital and receive mentorship, training and feedback from real business professionals.
That great idea—the GW Business Plan Competition—celebrated its fifth birthday on Tuesday night and kicked off the 2013 competition. GW Office of Entrepreneurship staff, competition judges, sponsors and former finalists reflected on past competitions and looked ahead to the 2013 competition. This academic year, finalists will compete for $60,000 in cash prize money and two new prizes: A cash prize for the best sustainable technology idea and an AARP Foundation prize for a business plan focused on needs of low-income seniors.
The GW Business Plan Competition is university-wide initiative at GW, said Jim Chung, director of the GW Office of Entrepreneurship.
“Here at GW, we really have a concerted effort to work together to try and provide great entrepreneurship programming for all the students at the university,” he said. The Office of Entrepreneurship helps foster innovation, supports venture creation and provides educational opportunities and business connections for students.
The competition began with less than 100 teams and $30,000 in prize money funded by entrepreneurs Florida Gov. Richard Scott (R) and his wife, Annette, whose daughter Allison Guimard, B.B.A.’05, is also an entrepreneur. Last year, the GW Business Plan Competition had a record 144 teams from all 10 schools at George Washington, competing for $50,000 in cash prize money and $15,000 in legal, financial and consulting services for the winning teams.
Mr. Rollins, director of GW Business Plan Competition, reflected on the competition’s growth over the last five years, and thanked all the staff and participants for all their contributions.
“The success over the last five years is really a result of all your efforts, and it’s a team effort,” he said. “I may have had the idea in the beginning, but I want to thank all of you for all you’ve done to make this successful for five years.”
Junior Jonathan Halpern, co-founder of Athlete Trax, a web-based client management platform for collegiate athletic administrations and student-athletes, spoke about his experience in the 2012 GW Business Plan Competition. Athlete Trax placed second and won the best undergraduate team and audience choice awards. Today, staff at Athlete Trax is testing its software with three teams in GW’s Department of Athletics and Recreation and has raised enough fund money to move forward.
“The Business Plan Competition forced us to sit down and think really not only where we are today with the idea we had, but where the business was going to be in five years,” said Mr. Jalpern. “It gave us the opportunity to think through the different areas of the business and really think about how things are going to unfold. That’s one of the main things that allowed us to really get moving on creating the business.”
Dylan Fox, founder of Crowdvance—an online fundraising platform that enables small organizations to fundraise and provide incentives to donors—said the GW Business Plan Competition gave him the motivation and feedback to grow his idea, which won third place in last year’s competition.
“It’s been a fantastic experience,” he said. “A lot of the resources we gained through the school are helping us get to where we see ourselves being. The validation you can get from the competition at an early stage is remarkable, and then on top of that, to have some cash to launch it to a bigger and better stage is amazing.”
The kickoff also featured remarks from MBA student Andreas Schneider, co-founder of Capital Kombucha; Jamila Braithwaite, vice president of Business Banking Group at Capital One Bank, a platinum sponsor of the GW Business Plan Competition; Tom McDougall, B.B.A. '07, director of D.C. Smart Staff and GW Business Plan Competition mentor; Ed Martinez, M.A. ’82, Ph.D. ’86, international CEO and GW Business Plan Competition judge; and Patrick Landers, manager of strategic planning at the AARP Foundation.
Click here for more information on the 2013 GW Business Plan Competition, which begins in January.