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July 3, 2001

Griffin takes Burton Morgan Competition's $20,000 top prize

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – High-tech, entrepreneurial Purdue University students showcased their concept, invention, business and marketing skills at the 14th annual Burton Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition.

Shailendra Mehta, director of the Krannert School Entrepreneurship Initiative, said not only has the prize money gone up from $30,000 last year to $54,000 in 2001, but there also has been a steady increase in the number of participants. There were a total of 43 teams and 220 participants involved this year.

"The Burton Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition has the largest amount of prize money of any university business plan contest in the world," Mehta said. "All the participants are to be congratulated for sticking to their projects for almost a year leading up to the competition. We have seen projects grow and become transformed in that time."

The top teams were:

– Griffin Analytical Technologies, which won first place and $20,000 for its miniaturized mass chemical detector. The instrument allows scientists in many fields to identify the substances with which they are working by measuring the mass of molecules or fragments. Griffin's founders are chemistry graduate students Dennis J. Barket Jr. and Garth Patterson. Strategic and operations consultants are John Scott and Enrique Vasquez, Krannert School master's degree students who are research assistants at Purdue's Technology Transfer Initiative.

Griffin Analytical Technologies recently won $10,000 in a business plan competition sponsored by the University of Nebraska. Griffin also was the first-place winner of CEO! Best Business Idea Competition from the Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The prize was $5,000.

"Griffin Analytical Technologies is very excited to have won such a prestigious award as Burton Morgan," Barket said. "We feel that winning three top business plan competitions further solidifies that our product and business idea are truly robust.

"We look forward to launching this venture in the fall of 2001 and to developing a successful working model for university-based start-ups."

–, which claimed second place and $10,000 for its software that provides online medical records and billing services to hospitals and other health care facilities.'s president is Kintan Brahmbhatt, a Purdue computer science and economics graduate. Gabriel Chaddock, a Purdue bachelor's degree graduate in computer engineering, is the company's chief technology officer. also took the $4,000 prize for being the best undergraduate entry.

– Verifocal Systems, which won third place and $7,000 for its PassageWays, a business Web portal management system. Paroon Chadra, a Krannert School master's degree candidate, is the company's chief marketing officer. Patrick Duparcq, a Krannert School marketing professor, is a partner.

– Flexbook, an e-book with a folding design and a screen that is an improvement over existing models, took fourth place and $6,000. Principals are Tze Yi Yeoh, a graduate student in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Ram Shastri, a Purdue master's degree graduate in aeronautical engineering; and Divya Rungta, a Krannert School master's degree candidate.

– I/O Medical Systems Inc., which finished fifth and claimed $5,000 for its low-cost, portable, tablet-based, electronic medical recordkeeping device. I/O Medical systems was founded by two undergraduates, Siddhartha Rao, a mathematics major, and John Kibitlewski, a computer science major.

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

The five finalists made 30-minute presentations to a panel of venture capitalist judges and then answered the judges' questions for 10 minutes. This year's Burton Morgan judges were Jim Anderson, Foundation Capital, Menlo Park, Calif.; Don Aquilano, Gazelle Tech Ventures, Indianapolis; Bob Compton, Veregon, Indianapolis; Chris Quinn, Netfuel Ventures, Chicago; Scot Swenberg, CID Equity, Indianapolis; and Tom Weldon, Innovation Factory, Atlanta.

Anderson told the fledgling entrepreneurs that "venture capitalists are really like bankers, very risk averse. We only take the risks when we absolutely have to.

"We think of an enterprise as a three-legged stool – technology, marketing and management. When funding ventures, you never want to take a risk in more than one stool leg at a time."

New in this year's event was the $4,000 prize for the best undergraduate team entry. The remaining $2,000 in prize money will be distributed to the 20 semifinalists.

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,

Dennis Barket Jr., (765) 477-2308,

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


Griffin Analytical Technologies team members pictured with an existing-technology chemical detector. Griffin has developed a miniaturized, shoebox-sized spectrometer. The winners of the 14th annual Burton Morgan Competition are (from left) Garth Patterson, John Scott and Dennis Barket Jr. Team member Enrique Vasquez is not present. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)

A publication-quality photograph is available at the News Service Web site and at the ftp site. Photo ID: Mehta.burtonmorgan

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