NYU Teams Win $200K in Stern's 2011-2012 Entrepreneurs Challenge
The winners of this year’s NYU Stern Entrepreneurs Challenge received more than $200,000 in seed money and in-kind support. After pitching their venture ideas, the five winning teams, each led by NYU students, were chosen by a panel of judges from the venture capital, technology and social enterprise sectors.
Stern's Entrepreneurs Challenge, organized by the School’s Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, is one of the largest and most rigorous business plan competitions in the country, attracting 175 teams and lasting eight months. Teams competed in three tracks: the New Venture Competition; the Social Venture Competition, in which venture teams pursue a double bottom line of social impact and financial profitability or sustainability; or the NYU Technology Venture Competition.
“After several rounds of screening, 12 teams competed in this year’s finals, with venture concepts spanning several industries including pharmaceutical, social and mobile media, luxury apparel, solar technology, art and music,” explained Jeff Carr, executive director of NYU Stern’s Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.
“Start-ups often require a multidisciplinary team to be successful,” said Frank Rimalovski, managing director of NYU’s Innovation Fund. “This was certainly true with this year’s finalists, which had student, faculty and alumni participation from seven NYU schools.”
New Venture Competition Winners
The Ira Leon Rennert Prize of $75,000, which is made possible by a gift from NYU Stern alumnus and member of Stern's Board of Overseers Ira Leon Rennert (MBA '56), was split between two winning ventures – Noor Pharmaceuticals and SleepBot.
Noor Pharmaceuticals specializes in developing and commercializing Halal vitamins and supplements. The venture team, led by Stern MBA student Dr. Mohamed Issa (MBA ’13), aims to increase awareness among Muslims that most vitamins are not Halal, and provide NoorVitamins as the solution.
Noor Pharmaceuticals (left), SleepBot (right) and William R. Berkley (BS ’66), chairman of Stern’s Board of Overseers (center)
Stern undergraduate student Jane Zhu (BS ’12) and Edison Wang of SleepBot have created an online/mobile resource that helps people manage sleep by providing simple tools that track, compare and visualize sleep with a community of sleep doctors and patients.
Social Venture Competition Winner
The Social Venture Prize of $50,000 was awarded to Nutraceutical Market Solutions.
Jill Kickul, director of Stern’s Program in Social Entrepreneurship (center), and Nutraceutical Market Solutions
Started by Stern MBA students Matthew Edmundson (MBA ’12) and Jennifer Tsai (MBA ’12), Nutraceutical Market Solutions aims to disrupt global health challenges starting with widespread iron deficiency anemia in India, which often leads to severe health problems for pregnant women and their babies. To help combat this growing issue, Edmundson and Tsai have developed an iron-fortified food that is more appealing to women than traditional iron pills.
NYU Technology Venture Competition Winners
The NYU Technology Venture Prize of $75,000, which is sponsored by the NYU Innovation Venture Fund, Lowenstein Sandler PC and EisnerAmper LLP, was split between two winning ventures – RF Test Labs and See More Technology.
RF Test Labs
RF Test Labs develops technology for measuring radio frequency power deposition, or heat, generated by wireless devices (e.g., mobile phones, tablets). RF Test Labs, started by Leeor Alon (PhD ’13), Gene Young Cho (PhD ’13) and Cem Murat Deniz (PhD ’12) from NYU’s School of Medicine, along with Iliyana Atanasova (PhD ’12), is introducing a premium specific absorption rate (SAR) testing service, which improves upon existing methods that are slow, costly and poor measurements of risk to consumers.
Paul Horn, senior vice provost for research (left), and SeeMore Technology
SeeMore Technology combines neuroscience with eye-tracking technology to optimize digital text and respond to a reader's eye position. Founder Sarah Rosen (PhD ’12) of NYU’s Graduate School of Arts, Joshua Fink and Ricky Berrin (MBA ’13) of NYU Stern aim to make reading easier for everyone. By making text easier for your brain to process, reading speed naturally increases while comprehension is unaffected.
In addition to the seed money awarded, the winning teams will have access to various support services, including accounting, tax and legal services, as well as office space, from the following partners: Eisner Amper, LLP; Lowenstein Sandler PC; Reitler, Kailas & Rosenblatt LLC; the Lex Mundi Foundation; and the NYU-Poly Incubators.
The audience also had a chance to vote for their favorite teams, selecting See More Technology, Noor Pharmaceuticals and SunCulture (pictured at top), which offers a solar powered irrigation system that boosts crop yields and empowers farmers in developing countries, as this year's Audience Choice Award recipients.