Irvine, Calif., March 21, 2001
Perhaps it's a sign of the times. The students who won the 2001 ThinkTank/Graduate School of Management New Venture Business Plan Competition are not developing dot-com ventures.
The business school at UC Irvine is known for a focus on Information Technology for Management (ITM) that prepares students to innovate, lead, and build value in a technology-driven society.
"The winning teams clearly understand that innovators in a networked economy will always need to use the power of information and technology to gain a strategic advantage, whether the business is in biomedicine or in communications technology," Dean David H. Blake said.
The first-place team has been awarded $20,000 in seed capital for a management consulting and professional services firm called Propel Biomedical Consulting, which will use technological tools to gather information and to develop commercialization strategies for biomedical companies. The team members are Scott Garrett, Joe Dill, Joon You, Theresa Nguyen, Vijay Jayanti, Gary Yuen and Richard Meissel.
The second-place team, which has been awarded $10,000, is creating a company called Larynx Technologies to provide software that enables consumers to "converse" with smart devices. The team members are Ashok Parthasarathy, John Kerr, Bryan Holmes, Quan Tran, Sunanda Tyagi and Kaiwen Cheng.
ThinkTank, an Aliso Viejo firm founded by Scott Blum to launch technology companies, sponsored the competition, which is patterned after successful start-up contests held at such universities as Stanford, MIT and Dartmouth. The winners were announced during an event Monday night.
Scott Blum said: "I can personally appreciate the time and effort that all of the competition participants put toward their business plan. ThinkTank and I are proud to support Orange County's future business leaders and the entrepreneurial spirit everywhere."
MBA student Scott Garrett, a member of the Propel Biomedical Consulting team, said the competition helped his team refine its business concept. "We knew what we wanted to do going into this, but the competition and the business planning class helped us tighten our focus," he explained. "Our consulting team provides a family of seven key commercial planning and professional services for biomedical companies, a range of service products unrivaled in Southern California. The MBA program at UCI has helped a lot by giving us a good balance of technical and strategic knowledge and teaching us effective analytical techniques."
The competition was launched in January, when student teams began developing detailed plans for new ventures, working closely with Professor Kaye Schoonhoven in a course on Business Planning for Entrepreneurs. The six participating teams also consulted regularly with advisors from the business community as they prepared to make presentations to a panel of judges. Advisors and judges included venture capitalists, private investors, entrepreneurs and executives from major corporations. The judges who heard presentations from the student teams on Saturday included two representatives from ThinkTank.
The competition—which involves students from other disciplines such as computer science, medicine and engineering as well as MBAs—is an outgrowth of the Graduate School of Management's courses on new venture development and innovation as well as rising student interest in business building.
In addition to the competition, the school also encourages and supports new venture development through its Irvine Innovation Initiative (I3), which initially is based in a modest trailer on campus. Students compete for space in this 24/7 "garage-style" facility by submitting proposals for new ventures that are evaluated by a committee of faculty and business leaders. A number of the business plan competition participants, including the members of the two winning teams, have been working in the I3 facility, where they have high-speed Internet access to a wealth of electronic information resources.
The Graduate School of Management's focus on ITM gives students the knowledge and tools they need to develop new business models for the networked economy. This approach has brought international attention to the school, which is ranked 1st for its focus on ITM by Financial Times, 5th by Computerworld and 10th by U.S. News & World Report.