sealPurdue News

March 26, 2003

Purdue entrepreneurial competition showcases new technologies

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University student teams will vie for thousands of dollars in venture capital and other support to fly their fledgling ventures during the 16th annual Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition on Thursday (3/27).

Shailendra Mehta, director of the Krannert School Entrepreneurship Initiative, said the prize money has gone up from $85,000 last year to $100,000, making the event one of the largest university-sponsored student entrepreneurism competition awards.

The awards for the top teams are: First prize, $50,000; second prize, $20,000; third prize, $10,000; fourth prize, $7,000; and fifth prize, $5,000.

In addition to the $100,000 in prizes, Indianapolis law firm Ice Miller will contribute $10,000 in legal services to the top team. The team with the best social component will have $5,000 added to any prizes it wins.

"The social component prize is new this year," Mehta said. "We want to reward plans that make a contribution to society in addition to entrepreneurism and business."

Judges for the event are John Aplin, co-managing general partner of CID Equity Partners in Indianapolis; Don N. Aquilano, managing director of Gazelle TechVentures in Indianapolis; Joseph E. DeGroff, partner in Ice Miller and founding partner of the law firm's Strategic Advisors Group in Indianapolis; Donald W. Feddersen, general partner of Bessemer Venture Partners in Wellesley Hills, Mass.; Harold Greenberg, chairman and CEO of The Royce Company in Prescott, Ariz.; Frank Greene, founder and general partner of NewVista Capital in Palo Alto, Calif; Jane H. Martin, regional managing director of Village Ventures Inc. in Bloomington, Ind.; Rowland Savage, associate of ARCH Development Partners LLC, Chicago; and Tim Schiegel, director of Blue Chip Venture Co. in Cincinnati.

The judges have evaluated the semifinalist teams and chosen the top 10 business plans.

The five top teams will have 20 minutes to present their business plans to the judges from 8 a.m. to noon in the Krannert School auditorium. Teams will then field 15 minutes of judges' questions. The competition is free and open to the public.

Five other teams will have the opportunity to make "fast pitches" – five-minute presentations of their plans – followed by one minute to answer judges' questions. The most effective fast pitch team will receive $2,000, and the second-place team will win $1,000.

Winners will be announced at 1:30 p.m. in the Weiler Lounge of the Krannert Center.

Mehta said 91 teams entered the competition this year, up from 54 business plans for last year's competition.

"We not only had the most entrants ever but also the best plans," Mehta said. "The depth and breadth of the plans took us to a whole new level of excellence.

"We were also happy that we had more entries from engineering and the sciences, and many of the business plan entries are based on new technologies developed here at Purdue. There's a whole new environment of support and awareness of entrepreneurism on the West Lafayette campus."

In addition to the prize money, the top teams get reduced-price office space in the Purdue Research Park and access to consultants and other resources to help get their fledgling enterprises off the ground. The contestants have been working on their products, proposals and marketing plans since the beginning of fall semester.

All Purdue students can participate in the event. Non-students – such as students from other colleges, Purdue alumni, faculty and local residents – also can be team members, but Purdue students must make the final presentations.

Richard A. Cosier, Krannert School dean and director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, said the Morgan competition is a great opportunity for students to get experts' opinions on their business plans.

"Over the years, our judges have fired some difficult questions at the participants," Cosier said. "The winning teams in the past have been those best prepared to answer questions about the marketing and financial aspects of their plans, as well as the technical components. The experience mirrors what our student entrepreneurs will encounter when they leave Purdue."

Mehta said judges will choose winners based on the potential of the startups. "The business plans won't be perfect, but the teams must communicate the vision and potential of their ideas," he said.

The competition is sponsored by the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship; the late Burton D. Morgan, Purdue alumnus and entrepreneur; the Krannert School of Management; and the Lilly Endowment. Ice Miller is contributing $10,000 in prize money in addition to the $10,000 worth of legal services the firm is providing the winning team.

Last year's winner was Monocle Technologies, a team of Purdue chemistry students and two Krannert School MBA candidates, whose product analyzes the chemical makeup of pharmaceuticals as they come down the assembly line. Since Monocle Technologies won the competition, the company has located at the Purdue Research Park.

"We're in discussions with a couple of different funding sources," said George Laurence, CEO and president of Monocle Technologies. "We’re close to getting our funding nailed down."

The Center for Entrepreneurship will be located in Purdue's Discovery Park. In addition to the entrepreneurship competition, the center will house the Innovation Realization Laboratory, Engineering Projects in Community Service and the Technology Transfer Initiative.

Writer: J.M. Lillich, (765) 494-2077,

Sources: Richard A. Cosier, (765) 494-4366,

Shailendra Mehta, (765) 494-5703,

George Laurence, (765) 409-4684,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Related Web site:
Purdue Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurial Initiative

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page