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School Awards More than $35,000 in Annual Business Plan Competition

April 13, 2012
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From left to right: Gene Anderson, dean of the School of Business, 1st Place undergraduate winner Quinn Worden, and Ken Colwell, director of the entrepreneurship program.

New business ventures aimed at improving the delivery of health care took top honors at the University of Miami’s 2012 Business Plan Competition, hosted by the School of Business. The winners, announced after the final round of competition April 13, took home a combined total of more than $35,000 in prize money.

Quinn Worden, a marketing and entrepreneurship major at the School of Business, won the Grand Prize and $10,000 in the undergraduate student category for PT United, a software company that assists physical therapists in delivering better, faster, and more affordable care. In the graduate category, Mark Slaughter and Brett Reed, MBA students, along with Michael Slocombe, won the Grand Prize and $10,000 for their venture, Cohealo, a company that consolidates and mobilizes underutilized medical equipment across hospital systems to help them make more accurate purchasing decisions.

  
From left to right: Dean Gene Anderson; 1st Place graduate winners Brett Reed, Mark Slaughter, and Michael Slocombe; and Ken Colwell, director of the entrepreneurship program.

Second Place in the undergraduate category and $5,000 went to Greg Gerla, an economics and history major; Michael Berliner, a mechanical and engineering major; and Brandon Witte, an information technology major, for ThreadTent, an aggregator for online clothing flash sales. Second Place in the graduate category and $5,000 went to MD/MBA students Dominic Maggio (BS ’08), Shiv Desai, and Kevin Kadaki (BS ’09) for Ophysio, which has a patent on the perflorocarbon-silicone membrane.

Third Place and $2,500 in the undergraduate category was shared by Jon Kowalsky, a management major at the School of Business, and entrepreneurship majors Sarah Bromley and John Warren. Kowalsky won for Studio 120, an independent music server community with revenues and promotion networks for artists, while Bromley and cWarren won for Dryfter, an online home décor retail store with a submission portal for users to share designs and get feedback from the artistic community.

Third place in the graduate category and $2,500 went to MBA student Aaron Newman for EntrepreneurU, an educational business that delivers seminars, creates and sells educational products, and pairs aspiring entrepreneurs with mentors to teach the technical know-how needed to start and operate a venture.

In addition to the top undergraduate and graduate prizes, the Paul K. Sugrue Entrepreneurial Spirit Award and $1,000 was presented to senior Valerie K. Major, an entrepreneurship major at the School. The prize is presented annually to the student who has demonstrated the highest spirit of entrepreneurship.

Also at the awards ceremony, a member of the School’s Entrepreneurship Programs Advisory Board and one of this year’s business plan competition judges, William Heffner (BBA ’77), presented Heffner Fellowship awards to freshman Eliyahu Davis, an international finance and marketing major, and junior Alicia Barroso, a finance and accounting major. Both School of Business students were awarded $4,000. The award helps students interested in entrepreneurship find and accept an entrepreneurial-related summer internship to put their entrepreneurial skills to practice through real world experience. The annual award is funded through an endowment gift Heffner made in 2006.   

The 2012 Business Plan Competition started last fall, when student proposals were submitted to the judging committee. Of those, 14 teams were selected to submit full business plans and to present their ideas in the semifinal round April 12. The following day, four undergraduate and three graduate teams competed in the final round, where the winners in each category were determined. The judges included nearly two-dozen successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists from across the world.

The members of the School’s Entrepreneurship Advisory Board chaired by Sandy H. Goldstein (BBA ’81, MBA ’83), president of Capsicum Group LLC, are supporters of the entrepreneurship program and competition, with many serving as judges and mentors. Members include: Ruy R. Chaves, founder, Plastrom Tecnologia Ltda; Isaias Sudit, education board representative, Entrepreneur’s Organization, South Florida; Greg Forgatch, co-founder, eHarmony; William G. Heffner (BBA ’77), founder and president, Agg Rok Materials; Thomas E. Pfeiffer (AB ’93, MBA ’02), vice president, Goldman, Sachs & Co.; Orlando Roche, president and market executive, Sabadell Bank & Trust; and Richard P. Tonkinson (MBA ’84, MPA ’85), senior associate and founder, Rick Tonkinson & Associates.

Now in its tenth year, the Business Plan Competition is open to all University of Miami students. 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. More information about the competition and past winners can be found on the competition website.


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