On Wednesday, May 8 sometime after 6pm, a team of MIT students-turned-entrepreneurs will walk away with $30,000 in cash and in-kind services for a new venture.
For the six finalists-out of a starting field of 52-this event is the culmination of months of preparing and refining a business plan for the 1996 $50K Business Plan Competition, the oldest and biggest competition of its kind.
Finalist plans this year include products such as virtual reality software that promises to bring everything from games to "distance medicine" to life, novel Java applications that track Web demographics, and a precision delivery mechanism for anti-cancer agents.
These business plans aren't mere academic exercises. Last year's winner, SensAble Devices, creator of a touch-feedback interface system, is now expanding its market internationally; 1991 winner Stylus Innovation was recently acquired for $12.5 million; and 1992 entrant DiVA merged with Avid, maker of the best-selling multimedia software VideoShop. Often, promising entries don't even make it to the finals-the students are too busy making deals in the real world.
On Wednesday, as part of an MIT Enterprise Forum meeting, the finalist teams will make 10-minute presentations of their business plans before a live audience and a panel of judges drawn from Boston's well-established entrepreneurial community. The judges will announce who will win the $20,000 cash prize-along with $10,000 of in-kind legal, venture capital and accounting services, and a "trillion bucks" of free advice. In addition, the panel will award $5,000 in cash and $5,000 of in-kind services to two runners-up-a new feature in this year's competition.
This year's featured speaker for the competition is Bill Warner, co-founder of Wildfire Communications and Avid Technologies, who will share some of the lessons he has learned as an entrepreneur.
Organized and run entirely by students, the seven-year-old annual competition helps develop new business ventures, fosters entrepreneurship, encourages cross-campus team building and provides students with the real-world experience of bringing ideas to the marketplace. Since its inception, the competition has not only become a popular extracurricular activity across campus, it has also inspired the development of several MIT courses in new venture development, personal entrepreneurship strategy and the "nuts and bolts" of preparing business plans.
The six finalist student teams-typically involving members with expertise in both management and engineering or science-base their plans on solid new product ideas. They are:
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Angularis Inertial Technologies-The Angularis VR360 uses micro-machined inertial sensors, integrated with proprietary hardware and software, to achieve high-performance motion tracking. When coupled with a PC and VRML-based Web documents, Angularis' products bring a new dimension to virtual reality in the arena of networked communications and computing.
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Epic Snowboard Bindings-Epic has developed an innovative step-in binding system that features rotational stance adjustment on the fly and fits all soft boots.
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Internet Telephony Company-Internet Telephony Company provides software and services that integrate traditional telephone networks with voice services on the Internet. Its goal is to provide long-distance calling through the Internet in a user-friendly and cost-effective manner.
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ OnCyte Technologies, Inc.-OnCyte's mission is to improve the effectiveness of cancer chemotherapy by delivering anti-cancer agents to solid tumors using an implantable biodegradable drug delivery system.
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Webline Communications/Internet PBX Gateway-Webline is an innovative integrator of technologies that provide Internet phone access for specific business applications.
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½WebSmart-WebSmart creates Java products that add value to business Web sites. The flagship product, SmartForms, aims to revolutionize Internet fill-in forms.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 8, 1996.