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Two Teams Tie for First in Venture Capital Competition

Heights Staff

Published: Thursday, April 14, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

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Daniel Lee / Heights Staff


Five undergraduate teams showcased their final business models during the fifth annual Boston College Venture Competition (BCVC) yesterday in Fulton Hall, competing for a total of $15,000 in prize money to fund their entrepreneurial dreams.

Student start-ups Additupp, an innovative online advertising service, and My Savvy Shoes, a snap-on shoe accessory system, tied for top billing, each garnering $6,500 to invest in taking their business models to the next level.

The final presentations and awards ceremony represented the culmination of a yearlong business educational experience for the aspiring entrepreneurs. The competition reviewed 42 initial business models and considered 11 final submissions before the final five student teams pitched their ideas to judges and an audience full of mentors from the business world, professors, and students.

The final five teams presented a diverse set of products to be reviewed by judges and attendees, ranging from a new model for college counseling, online services for realtors and prospective property buyers, and an App for the iPhone that transformed elements of the physical world into elements of a virtual video game through GPS. Panel members peppered the presenting groups with questions about their business models, simulating the experience of pitching ideas to prospective investors.

At an awards dinner later in the evening, the teams presented short "elevator pitches" of their business presentations to guests in the Fulton Honors Library, abridging almost a year of hard work in a concise, enthusiastic statement of the goals of each start-up.

A panel of judges with business experience in areas such as investment banking, venture capital, and corporate law determined the competition's outcome- an unprecedented tie for first place.

"We had a tough time picking a winner," said Sean Madnani, a judge and managing director for Blackstone Advisory Partners LP. "There wasn't a consensus in the room because everyone was so good."

While it may have been difficult to determine a winner, the panelists were at least united in their admiration for the talent, effort, and passion displayed by all student start-ups.

Dan Nova, a partner at Highland Capital Partners and BC '83, said that the models he evaluated were on par with entries at similar competitions at institutions like Harvard Business School.

"I've never been more proud to be a graduate of Boston College than I am tonight," Nova said. "I think all of these businesses are investible."

The panel's admiration was not lost on appreciative student contestants, who consistently lauded the efforts of Carroll School professors and executive mentors from the business world in helping them refine their ideas.

"To be rewarded by such prestigious venture capitalists is an honor," said Thomas Coburn, a member of the team behind Additupp and A&S '13.

Members of the BCVC Executive Committee were just as thrilled as the competition's winners when reflecting on the strides their organization took this year. The student-run organization held their first Elevator Pitch Competition and went online for the first time, while alumni from the competition continued to have entrepreneurial success. BCVC start-ups like WePay and WakeMate now receive funding from Silicon Valley investors, to the tune of $9.5 million for the former company.

Scott Veazey, BCVC executive Committee Member and CSOM '11, said that, in spite of such grand-scale triumphs in the business world, the mission of BCVC remains focused on offering entrepreneurial opportunities to a multitude of students, no matter the ultimate fate of their ventures.

"BCVC is about educating undergraduates from all schools on the business start-up process," he said, noting that BCVC strives "to be the finest undergraduate venture competition in the country."

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