Tag Archives: Bob Mark

Winning Pitch Cleans up at Competition

Entrepreneurship Club hosts another successful Elevator Pitch Competition.

Today’s university students are reminded to be careful about what they put up on their Facebook or Twitter accounts. Sometimes they forget, and that’s a job for Clean It Up, the winning entry in the fifth annual Bob Mark Elevator Pitch Competition held Thursday night on the campus of Michigan Technological University.

The late business professor Bob Mark created the competition so students could polish their 90-second, new business pitches, emulating the length of an elevator ride.

The brainchild of accounting major Nikoli Wiens, assisted by chemical engineering major Zach Eckert, Clean It Up promises to clean up content and profiles on the Internet, even beyond the cleansing that Facebook and Twitter claim to do upon request.

“Companies will still dig deeper and get the info,” said Wiens. “We know it’s important to remove certain content, and we would do it cheaper than other services.” The team claimed there was more than $1 million in revenue possible with their $25 fee; such is the need for their service.

Their motto? “Don’t let one crazy weekend ruin your life forever.” They won $1,000 for their efforts.

Second place and $500 went to a device to which university students could also relate. FairShare promised a simple plug-in to calculate individual electric power usage, an important consideration for students sharing living spaces and expenses.

FairShare was created by an elevator-pitch veteran, Abhilash Kantamneni, who won last year’s competition with an Indian dating service.

“This can help college students save money,” Kantamneni said. “It would only cost $25, so most can afford it.” Kantamneni is a PhD student in computer science.

The bronze medal and Audience Favorite Award went to the ingenious Flashion, an app for your cellphone that can take a photo of a pair of shoes, for example, and instantly find their source, price, and more.

This mobile app would be free, according to creators Armando Flores, majoring in communication, culture, and media, and Allison Strome, a management major. They credited teammate and finance major Natalia Lebedeva for their inspiration, with whom they will share $250.

“She had the idea and we just built on it,” Flores said. “We might try to get funding on Kickstarter [the online funding site] to form an LLC.

Safety Straw targeted chemicals added surreptitiously to people’s drinks. Green Receipts sought to eliminate paper receipts at businesses. And more student-friendly businesses included Experience University, to help choose the right courses and teachers; and Food Now, to get groceries and fast food delivered to their rooms when they are in mid-cram for that final exam.

Michigan Tech entrepreneurs can also set their sights on the New Venture Competition, held at Central Michigan University in March and providing $65,000 in prize money.

All Majors invited to Elevator Pitch Competition!

What is an Elevator Pitch?

An elevator pitch is a short speech that outlines a business idea.

Come Pitch your idea for a chance to win $1000 in 90 seconds!

When: Thursday, November 7th at 6:00 pm

Where: Fisher Hall, Room 135

Why: $1000 First Place Prize…$500 Second Place Prize…$250 Third Place Prize…$200 Audience Favorite

Even if you’re not interested in competing, please join us for what is sure to be a fun and entertaining event! We look forward to see you in the audience!

Please contact Nikoli Wiens with any questions at nrwiens@mtu.edu

www.mtuentrepreneurs.com

Tech Students win $20,500 at New Venture Competition

Last weekend Michigan Tech and Central Michigan University students competed for a total of $45,000 in this year's New Venture Competition.

Two teams of Michigan Tech students won more than $20,000 in the annual New Venture Competition held at Central Michigan University recently.

Northern Aquaponics won $10,000 in the Best Technology category, and Upland Nanotech won $10,000 for Highest Growth Potential and $500 for second-place pitch.

“We had five strong teams competing in a field of 2Y,” said School of Business and Economics Dean Gene Klippel. “All the teams benefited greatly from the experience of presenting their ideas and receiving valuable feedback from the outstanding panel of judges who participated.”

First place and $30,000 went to Solar Cycle Lights LLC, a student team from Central Michigan.

Upland Nanotech was founded by Thomas Daunais, an electrical engineering major, whose company developed a rapid-sensing technology used for food pathogen detection and drug-level concentration that has the ability to yield results within 20 minutes.

“The first thing we’re going to do is going to take the winnings and leverage another $55,000 out of it,” he said. “We’ll use the $65,000 we’ll have to make an E. coli sensor prototype.”

He said the competition, attended by many business and industry professionals, helped his group network and convince others to believe in their idea.

“We got feedback from the judges that we have an interesting concept, a solid business plan and an overall very intriguing technology,” Daunais said.

Northern Aquaponics, specializing in growing plants and raising fish in indoor environments, won the $10,000 award for Best Technology.

“I think we have done a lot of work to pinpoint our target market and refine our business model to make it more viable,” said Josh Krugh, an economics major and the company’s cofounder. He also thought the judges at Central gave good feedback, not just to his team, but to all of the teams.

“There were so many people there willing and able to help all of us,” Krugh said. “I can’t tell you how many people stopped me throughout the day to give us suggestions and talk about our business. It was definitely a rare opportunity to be in a room full of so many successful businessmen and women.”

He said Northern Aquaponics will use their prize money to build partnerships and company business models.

Twenty-seven teams from Central Michigan and Michigan Tech competed in the daylong event for awards ranging from $500 to $30,000. Panels of 60 judges representing business leaders and entrepreneurs from throughout Michigan and the region evaluated the team presentations based on several factors, including the quality of the idea, strength of the management team and the business plan.

Upland Nanotech and Northern Aquaponics also won second and third place, respectively, at the Fourth Annual Bob Mark Memorial Elevator Pitch Competition on the Michigan Tech campus in November 2012.

This story was originally written by by Dennis Walikainen, University Marketing Communications senior editor, and published in Tech Today.

Event: Bob Mark Elevator Pitch Competition

(click for full size)

Where can you win $1,000 for just 90 seconds of your time? At the 2012 Bob Mark Elevator Pitch Competition! Join us on Wednesday, November 7 in Fisher 135 at 6pm for the fun!

In the competition, contestants have a limited time (like on an elevator ride) to sell a concept to someone who doesn’t have previous knowledge about their business. A 90-second time limit is placed on the competitors, who will also be competing for second ($500), third ($250), and audience-favorite ($200) prizes. Please join students, faculty, staff, and community members for this year’s event. You won’t be disappointed!

This event is a tribute to the late Bob Mark, Professor of Practice within the School of Business and Economics. Mark started and ran the first four years of the Elevator Pitch Competition and brought the Business Plan Competition to Michigan Tech. The Bob Mark Elevator Pitch Competition and other efforts  support his entrepreneurial spirit that continues to live on in students, faculty, and staff.

Get Involved

If you are interested in participating in this event, review the EPC Information and Rules or download the 2012 Bob Mark Elevator Pitch Competition Judge’s Score Sheet. To participate, attend an information session (the next one is scheduled for Tuesday, October 30th at 6pm in Fisher 139) and contact Travis: twbeauli@mtu.edu with any questions.

Advice from Bob Mark

  • Do not say “we have no competition.”
  • If you are stating guessed numbers, try using 3, 7, or 9 to make the numbers sound more realistic.
  • Memorize your first and last statements, let everything in the middle flow naturally.
  • Be confident in everything you say and avoid terms such as “maybe.”
  • There is an audience favorite prize so invite all of your friends to vote for you!

This event is sponsored by the Michigan Tech School of Business and Economics and the Michigan Tech Smart Zone.

And the Survey Says . . . Or Does It?

MBA student, Tao Guo

As part of our modern culture, people are inundated with questions regarding their personal opinions and experiences. College students, in particular, often experience the brunt of these inquiries. During their college careers, students may fill out countless surveys regarding their personal interests, classes, professors, and even some for their educational institution.

What if the information collected during these surveys isn’t always reliable? Should college students be surveyed in the same manner as non-students?

As a Michigan Tech MBA student, Tao Guo asked these questions while working as a research assistant. This inquiry led to a research project and a refereed paper presentation at the 2010 Marketing Management Association Fall Educators’ Conference in Indianapolis.

The paper, “The Effect of Rating Scales on Systematic Differences Between Students and Nonstudents in Survey Research,” was written with help from Junhong Min, assistant professor of marketing, and the late Bob Mark, professor of practice.

“Tao came to me with a question about using surveys in consumer research that kept leading to more questions. His enthusiasm and dedication to this project led to the honor of presenting at the conference. We’re very pleased with his work,” notes Min.

Guo’s initial research found two divergent views exist about the usefulness of college students as subjects. One stream of research questions the use of student samples, while the other shows no difference between student samples and nonstudent samples. Guo tried to fill this gap by examining when the differences between student samples and nonstudent samples occur.

Tackling a common practice found in consumer research studies that survey college students, Guo took a closer look at the use of scales. When examining data from student assessment surveys, he found that either a five-point scale or a seven-point scale was typically used. Both of these scales are employed to measure how strongly the subject agrees with a survey statement. His results empirically illustrate how the five-point scale is more effective at capturing the differences between student and nonstudent samples. In addition, Guo discovered that behavior-related questions (e.g., frequency, the number of purchases) are more sensitive to differences between students and nonstudents than attitude questions (e.g., willingness to purchase, perceived importance).

“The research suggests to the practitioners that they should interpret their results with caution when student samples are involved,” says Guo.

Guo researched the subject for five months. The opportunity to present his paper was a notable achievement for a student, since most presenters at the conference were professional business educators from universities across the nation.

“The professor hosting my section was very excited about my findings and gave me a lot of suggestions for further research,” he said. “I learned a lot by listening to others’ presentations and established several new connections with MBA students and faculty from other universities.”

Guo is from Zhoukou, a small town in Henan Province in central China. He attended Northeastern University in Shenyang, China, where he majored in English and minored in finance. Before coming to the US, he worked for four years at Northeastern University, including a position as deputy director of the Engineer Training Center.

“I came to realize the value of higher education and overseas experience after I interacted with several very successful scholars and corporate executives,” says Guo. “That’s why I made up my mind to switch my career and pursue an MBA degree in America.”

Support from faculty was important to Guo. “I have really appreciated the broad range and depth of interests of the faculty in the School of Business and Economics. Other than professors Min and Mark, I also worked on an independent study with Assistant Professor Maria Schutte. Every time you feel like you have a question or you want to learn something, you can always find the right professor. And they are all willing to help.”

Because of Guo’s research and his successful student career at Tech, he has been accepted into the PhD program in Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University. “I am very grateful to Michigan Tech for the opportunity to do research as an MBA student and for my educational experience in general. It was an overall great learning experience and will be very beneficial to me in my future endeavors.”

This article was originally published in Impact, the Michigan Tech School of Business and Economics magazine.