While a game of Monopoly is the closest many students have ever been to experiencing a businesslike environment, a group of UCSB students took the commerce game to a whole new level, competing in teams with novel ideas in a contest that could have been dreamed up by The Donald himself.
Last Tuesday, the ninth annual New Venture Competition was held at the UCen’s Corwin Pavilion. Finalists presented their business plans to a panel of capitalists, serial entrepreneurs and technology business leaders. The contest consists of five distinguished categories, of which $10,000 is awarded for the Most Fundable Idea, $5000 for Dow Materials Use, $4000 for Best Pitch and $2000 for Audience Choice.
Teams were rated on a number of characteristics, including their likelihood to succeed as a team and the clarity of their funding and growth strategies. The award for the Most Fundable Idea category went to Nitride Solutions. The team plans to manufacture highly efficient and long lasting ultraviolet light emitting diodes, which will have the potential to sterilize water and process food and are not currently available for commercial use.
David Pricco, a fourth-year business economics major and the team’s business affairs director, said that his team’s business plan was to try and create a business model out of experimental techniques used by engineers and professors in UCSB laboratories.
“We spent months working on this, taking classes, meeting investors, meeting with attorneys, meeting with advisors, re-re-re-writing our business plan, arguing about the name, doing industry research, talking to potential customers and suppliers, making detailed financial estimates, etc.,” Pricco said.
The team was compiled of diverse members who brought their different talents to the project. Troy Baker, a UCSB PhD in materials engineering, helped develop the technology for the project. Chief Executive Officer Bruce Allen helped establish important contacts and valuable connections for the business. Dr. Dave Bour, the chief technical advisor for the group, has published over 60 patents dealing with Nitride and LED development. And finally, the team’s financial advisor, Muriel Taylor, helped with the financial aspect and spoke with investors.
InFlowMed and Green Pieces both won the $4000 prize. InFlowMed’s idea involved implementing an electronic medical record that shows the severity certain drugs have when combined with other prescriptions. According to InFlowMed, this technology optimizes workflow, reduces costs and saves lives by reducing harmful drug interactions.
Green Pieces, which won the award for Best Business, marketed their plan on the concept of building green modular homes in the eastern United States, which are homes made from environmentally friendly materials. Additionally, both InFlowMed and Green Pieces won the Audience Choice Award.
According to Jeff Lee, a participating judge, it was hard to choose between the numerous projects.
“It was a difficult decision,” Lee said. “There were a lot of strong plans and presentations [and] they were all strong and well polished with a unique technology that has a potential to be a really big company.”
Pricco said that his accomplishment was well worth the effort and was a challenging activity outside of the usual classroom assignments.
“I have something that I can point to that I did at UCSB that wasn’t decided for me by my department,” Picco said. “It justifies all the sunny afternoons I spent working when I could have been on the beach.”