August 25, 2000
Entrepreneurial competition offers resources,
fun and $50,000
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. If you have a concept, invention, business and marketing skills, or even dreamed about having your own business someday, check out the 14th annual Burton Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition at Purdue University.
There is $50,000 in prize money, plus resources to help get your fledgling enterprise off the ground. You can find out the basics on Sept. 6 or Sept. 7, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Room G-20 in the basement of the Krannert Building on campus. That's the first step toward the final presentations on March 1, when student teams will pitch their products and marketing plans to a panel of judges made up of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.
All Purdue students are eligible to participate in the event. Non-students such as students from other colleges, Purdue alumni and local residents can also be team members, but Purdue students must make the final presentations to the judges.
Shailendra Mehta, director of the Krannert Entrepreneurship Initiative, said not only has the prize money gone up from $30,000 last year to $50,000 in 2000-01, there has also been a steady increase in the number of participants. He would like to see that increase again this year.
"Traditionally, teams have been made up of engineers and Krannert students. We're determined to attract more students from the liberal arts, technology and the sciences. Ideas for real, marketable products can come from all over campus."
In addition to the $20,000 first-place prize, there is a $10,000 second prize, a $7,000 third prize, a $6,000 fourth-place prize and a $5,000 fifth-place prize. The remaining $2,000 will be distributed to the 20 semifinalists.
Vaneeth Iyengar, a senior economics and computer science major, was a member of last year's fourth-place team that developed redFOLIO.com, a software product designed to analyze manufacturing processes using computer modeling and simulation.
After the Burton Morgan competition, the team members kept working and rode their product and plan to garage.com's entrepreneurial competition last summer in San Francisco, where they took second place and walked away with $25,000. They also had their photo taken for Business Week magazine.
"I think of the whole experience of the last year and a half as getting a mini MBA," Iyengar said. "We learned engineering, finance, marketing, operations and the two most important things that you can actually improve upon writing and speaking skills.
"The Burton Morgan contest also opened up great networking opportunities," Iyengar said. "We met CEOs and venture capitalists you see on television. We met students from Stanford, the University of California at Davis and the University of Texas."
Iyengar said the whole project was fun, too. "We got to travel, there was great camaraderie, and since we were the only Midwestern school represented at the garage.com competition, we got Purdue West coast exposure."
Iyengar's team continues to work on marketing redFOLIO.com, and while Iyengar says he still has entrepreneurial aspirations, "right now I'd rather be on the other side of the table the venture capital side." He can do that when he graduates in May, thanks to contacts he made on the West coast that turned into a job offer from a venture capital firm. Or he might join the Peace Corps' Business Development Program, which helps businesses get started in Eastern Europe and Africa.
The competition is sponsored by Purdue alumnus and entrepreneur Burton D. Morgan, the Krannert School of Management, the Purdue Schools of Engineering and the School of Science.
Sources: Shailendra Mehta, (765) 494-5703, firstname.lastname@example.org
Veneeth Iyengar, (765) 495-7545, email@example.com
Writer: J. Michael Lillich, (765) 494-2077, firstname.lastname@example.org
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; email@example.com
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