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August 21, 2003

Purdue entrepreneurs sought for $100,000 business plan contest

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University students and faculty have the opportunity to learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur and compete for $100,000 in total prize money in the 17th annual Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition on Feb. 19.

2003 winners
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Those who have an idea or a technology for a business or an interest in running their own enterprise should come to the informational call-out sessions at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday (8/27-28) in the Krannert Auditorium, or register online by Sept. 12. During the February competition, six finalists will give full business plan presentations to a panel of venture capitalist judges, and four other teams will make three-minute "elevator pitches."

First prize is $50,000, and the winning team also gets free office space for one year at the Purdue Research Park and professional services. Second prize is $20,000; third, $10,000; fourth, $7,000; fifth, $5,000; and sixth, $3,000. Second- and third-place finishers qualify for reduced-rent office space at the research park.

The top elevator pitch wins $2,500; second wins $1,500; third, $750; and fourth, $250.

Don Blewett, associate director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, which is currently under construction at Discovery Park on the west end of campus, said entrepreneurship is not mysterious, unique or brand-new.

"You can get most ideas to fly," he said. "It's just a question of how high. It's lemonade stands and the thought processes you go through in a startup.

"You can define entrepreneurism as aggressive and creative application of standard business principles and making decisions quickly for the right reasons. It's saying what you're going to do and doing what you say. We can provide the tools to make your idea fly."

Teams can include undergraduates from any major, graduate students and even professors, but competition rules stipulate that students must make the final presentations.

This fall the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship will offer six workshops to prepare teams to write business plans to qualify for the competition finals. Blewett said the two-and-one-half hour workshops will cover all the functional areas of an MBA – finance, marketing, human resources, accounting, operations, management communication and how all the areas interact.

"Win, lose or draw, this is solid, basic business education that will make you more employable," Blewett said. "And having won real dollars in a business plan competition is a resume item that will separate you from other graduating job seekers because established companies seek entrepreneurial employees."

Blewett said the competition is taking place earlier this year than in the past 16 years so that teams will have the opportunity to take their ideas and plans to other business plan competitions – such as those at the universities of Texas, Washington and Oregon. The Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship may pay the travel expenses for any Burton Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition finalist landing a spot in these other events.

Richard A. Cosier, Krannert School dean and Leeds Professor of Management, is director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. He explained the center's mission is universitywide.

"We want to be involved with technology transfer – helping bring Purdue research to the marketplace," he said. "We're very serious about educational events, such as this entrepreneurial competition. It's all part of making Purdue a much more entrepreneurially engaged institution."

For further information, call Blewett at (765) 494-4485,

Writer: Mike Lillich, (765) 494-2077,

Sources: Don Blewett, (765) 494-4485,

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

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;


Dan Schlitz (left) and Vishal Singhal receive the $50,000 top award in the 16th annual Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition in March 2003 from Richard A. Cosier, Krannert School dean and director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. Schlitz and Singhal are Purdue doctoral students in mechanical engineering. Their venture, Thorrn Micro Technologies, was based on a small, quiet, high-performance device they developed to cool laptop computers. The increased power in today's computers creates additional heat, making compact cooling devices more critical. (Purdue News Service file photo/David Umberger)

A publication-quality photograph of the Thorrn Micro Technologies team is available at

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