Undergraduate and graduate students presented their business plans before a panel of prominent corporate executives and investors who ranked teams in the categories of Best Pitch, Best Written Business Plan, Sustainability & Social Entrepreneurship and Most Fundable Idea. Aptitude Medical Systems, which uses diagnostic substances instead of antibodies to detect diseases including certain cancers and heart disease, won $7,500 for the top award of Most Fundable Idea and $4,000 for the Best Business Plan, while Athlete Performance Data Systems took home $4,000 for Best Pitch.
Upon winning the top award, Aptitude Medical Systems team member and graduate student Scott Ferguson said the group will put their winnings into action immediately.
“Well, we plan on making this venture a reality,” Ferguson said. “We’ve already had several potential investors express interest in financing our company.”
Athlete Performance Data Systems member and fourth-year political science major Joel Smith said the team is currently in discussions with the UCSB Athletic Department to implement the group’s product, a software system that aims to decrease excessive paperwork filed in college athletics departments.
“This check is nice,” Smith said of the group’s endowment. “But the big payday is going to come when we team up with UCSB and get working on that.”
Some teams that did not place in the competition still plan to take their business models beyond last night’s event. SyncIn team member and fourth-year accounting major Devon Morrison said his team’s product — a mobile timeclock for tracking employee clock-ins and payroll — will be used by large-scale companies as soon as this year.
“We’ve gotten test-ins with two companies,” Morrison said. “The companies have already been working with us and it’ll go live by the end of the summer.”
Patrick Dietzen, a 2003 NVC winner and vice president of development at Cydia, Inc., said this year’s business models could act as vital sources of economic enrichment for the community.
“A lot of these companies are looking like they could really get a start and be successful,” Dietzen said. “This is where it’s at; entrepreneurship is where it’s at in terms of helping the economy.”
Steve Cooper, who has served on TMP’s Advisory Board for over 10 years, said much of the competing teams’ success stems from valuable networking opportunities throughout the NVC’s five-month process.
“The number of participants has grown dramatically,” Cooper said. “The other thing is the quality has improved because we’ve gotten more mentors who have heard about the companies coming out of the program … [The students] have seen from the success of companies like Active Life and Inogen that they really could start their own company.”