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MIT student entrepreneurs vie for $10,000 prize

  • An investment fund guided by artificial intelligence and genetic algorithms
  • Voice-controlled musical instruments
  • A powerful, inexpensive set-top converter box for televisions
  • ������������������A novel device for detecting glaucoma in its early stages.

These are some of the promising business ideas hatched by enterprising teams of MIT students in the 1995 MIT $10K Entrepreneurial Business Plan Competition. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony hosted by the MIT Enterprise Forum on Friday, May 10, at 6pm in Rm 10-250.

The guest speaker for the ceremony will be Dan Schwinn '83, co-founder and chairman of Shiva Corp. He will give highlights of his entrepreneurial career and lessons learned in developing his telecommunications company which recently became publicly traded.

Organized and run by students, the MIT $10K Competition was begun in 1990 to foster entrepreneurship, promote cross-campus teambuilding and provide students with a solid, real-world educational experience. Since then, the competition has become a major extracurricular component of the broader MIT entrepreneurship program aimed at educating and inspiring the next generation of new venture founders and leaders.

If past experience is any measure, these plans aren't just pipe dreams conceived in the ivory tower. The founders of Stylus Innovation, early developers of home shopping devices and now developers of fax and telephony software, were the 1991 Grand Prize winners. During the second part of the evening, Mike Cassidy '86, co-founder and CEO of Stylus Innovation, will present his plan for the further development of his company in an MIT Enterprise Forum case presentation.

In this year's competition, 45 student teams drawn mostly from MIT's School of Engineering and the Sloan School of Management combined their technical and business expertise to come up with executive summaries of their new venture plans. The panel of judges provided written critiques of each plan and selected the most promising to continue to the next round. These 12 semi-finalists, each with the guidance of a successful entrepreneur, prepared a full business plan outlining the market opportunity, product details and start-up plans.

From this group, the judges have selected five finalists:

  • ������������������SensAble Devices-PhanTom VR touch-feedback devices
  • net.Genesis-Internet World Wide Web tools
  • ������������������NanoWave-High-precision position measurement and control systems
  • ������������������Agents, Inc.-Automated word-of-mouth and targetted marketing
  • ������������������Impulse Systems and Services (ISS)-Thin-film measurement devices

Finalists will present brief summaries of their plans and the judges will announce this year's winner of the $10,000 David and Lindsay Morgenthaler Grand Prize.

This year's $10K judges were drawn from the Boston entrepreneurial business community including the law firm of Sullivan & Worcester, MIT's Technology Licensing Office, AmeriData Consulting, Morgenthaler Ventures, Price Waterhouse, and Atlas Venture.

Sponsors and advisors of the $10K Competition include Sullivan & Worcester, AmeriData, Atlas Venture, George Hatsopoulos, David and Lindsay Morgenthaler, the Price Waterhouse Entrepreneurial Services Center, the Young Entrepreneurs Organization, the MIT Technology Licensing Office, the MIT Sloan School of Management and the MIT School of Engineering.

Other semifinalist entries this year included a new programmable logic technology for semiconductor chips, a wireless data acquisition system for industrial automation, a touch-feedback interface for virtual surgery and a maker of advanced virtual reality-enhanced exercise equipment.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 10, 1995.

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