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Annual $50K competition gets underway tomorrow

The 1996-97 MIT Entrepreneurship Competition--also known as the $50K--will hold its annual kick-off event on Thursday, Oct. 24 at 4:30pm in the Wong Auditorium in Building E51. All members of the MIT community are invited to attend and participate in the competition.

Organized and run entirely by students, the eight-year-old competition--the largest such contest in the nation--helps teams of students in technology and business produce tomorrow's leading firms, 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 event has not only become a popular extracurricular activity across campus, it has also inspired even more MIT courses in new venture development, personal entrepreneurship strategy, and the "nuts and bolts" of preparing business plans-and entries have generated million-dollar businesses.

Many business success stories have resulted from entries, including the 1995 winner, SensAble Devices, featured in the July 1996 issue of Fortune Magazine as one of its Top 25 Cool Technology Companies, and the 1991 winner, Stylus Innovations, which was acquired recently in a multimillion-dollar buyout.

Teams submit business plans to a panel of experienced entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, legal professionals and technology experts. The winning teams divide a $50,000 prize fund of cash and services for new ventures. Winners and runners-up will be announced in May.

This year's kick-off event speaker is Bob Swanson (SM '70), founder of biotechnology giant Genentech. Competition organizers will also provide information on the deadlines and stages of the $50K and instructions for entering the $1K Warm-Up round in November.


The $50K competition begins with the $1K Warm-Up, where one-page summary entries describing the product or service concept, market opportunity, target customers and potential competitors are submitted on the World Wide Web. The entry deadline is November 26.

MIT studies have shown that startups are most successful when there is a multidisciplinary founding team rather than an individual working alone, so $1K entrants are asked to submit information on their team. For those who have an idea but no team, the $1K is a good way to find one; the contest's organizing team will provide $1K entrants with team-building resources and events during the semester.

For those who wish to enter the $50K in the spring, entry in the $1K is not mandatory, but they are encouraged to use this earlier competition as an opportunity to take a first, no-risk cut at describing their ideas in business terms.

More information is available at the kick-off and on the Web at . People who have specific questions on how to generate business ideas should e-mail their questions to student organizer Benjamin Mok, who is working with others to develop an Idea Generation Seminar in November, at .

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 23, 1996.

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