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NYU Entrepreneurs Awarded $150k in Stern's 9th Annual Business Plan Competition

More than $150,000 in seed money and in-kind support was awarded to the winners of the 9th Annual NYU Stern Business Plan Competition.

The three winning teams, each lead by NYU students and alumni, were chosen by a panel of seasoned business owners and private investors after successfully pitching their new venture ideas. Taking top honors were business concepts that mirror marketplace trends such as leveraging social networking sites to create unique product offerings and using innovative business models to combat intractable global social issues, including poverty and poor access to quality healthcare.

Stern's business plan competition is one of the largest and most rigorous of its type, attracting 155 teams this year—up 20 percent from the previous—and lasting eight months. Teams compete in either the traditional or social entrepreneurship track, the latter of which pursue the double bottom line of social impact and financial sustainability or profitability.

The Winners

Traditional Track

The Ira Rennert Entrepreneurial Prize of $50,000, 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 awarded to the founders of Socialbomb, Inc.

The founders of Socialbomb, Inc., Stern alumnus Mihir Dange (BS '01) and Michael Dory, Adam Simon and Scott Varland of Tisch's Interactive Telecommunications Program, are revolutionizing the gaming industry by tapping into existing information on social networks, such as Facebook and MySpace, to provide players with exciting entertainment and to give advertisers a unique opportunity to reach niche markets. Socialbomb's clever games, such as "Runway Victim," award or penalize players based on everyday life events: how they dress, as reviewed by peers sharing snapshots on social networks; if and when they remember birthdays of friends and family; proximity to competitors as tracked by their mobile devices; and more. On-the-go lifestyles of consumers being top-of-mind, they developed games that operate on iPhones, Blackberrys and specially-designed keyfobs.

Click here to view picture of Social Bomb team.

Social Entrepreneurship Track

The Stewart Satter Family Prize of $100,000, which is made possible by a gift from NYU Stern alumnus and member of Stern's Board of Overseers Stewart Satter (MBA '82), was shared by Naya Jeevan for Kids ($75,000) and Madécasse ($25,000).

Asher Hasan MD (MBA '07), Saad Tabani (MBA '08), Farhan Musharrif and Irum Musharraf of the Naya Jeevan for Kids (NJFK) team, are dedicated to providing socioeconomically disadvantaged families in the developing world with affordable access to high-quality catastrophic healthcare, covering acute heath-related events that require inpatient treatment or an emergency room visit. With initial efforts focused on India and Pakistan, NJFK will act as a catalytic intermediary between insurance companies and corporations in those countries, giving naya jeevan, or "new life" as it translates from Urdu and Hindi, to two large and severely underserved communities in South Asia: low-income corporate employees and their children, as well as domestic staff members of corporate employees and their children. The introduction of this social enterprise model is intended to offer a broad spectrum of social protection, including alleviation of generational poverty and mitigation of urban child labor.

Recent Stern graduate Brian McCollum (MBA '07) and co-founders Brett Beach and Tim McCollum of Madécasse import specialty food products grown and manufactured in Madagascar. Focused primarily on goods made from locally grown cocoa and vanilla beans, the group aims to bridge the gap between poverty and potential in emerging markets using Equitrade. A model that builds upon the Fair Trade concept, Equitrade requires both the farming and the manufacturing of products to be completed within the country of origin. Based on market trends showing that consumers are increasingly interested in a product origin and in purchasing goods from ethical and sustainable enterprises, Madécasse distributes their premium chocolate bars and other food products to retail outlets across the US.

Click here to view pictures of the Social Entrepreneurship Track Winners.

In addition to the seed money awarded, the winning teams will have a virtual "pod" in the Stern Incubator, where they will benefit from $10,000 in pro-bono legal and consulting support, an extensive mentor network, ongoing technical assistance, educational programs and University resources.

About Stern's Business Plan Competition

NYU Stern's business plan competition, which is open to the greater NYU community, unites the innovations developed throughout NYU's graduate schools with the business acumen of the Stern community. Sponsored by the Berkley Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, it provides aspiring entrepreneurs with mentoring and financial support in an effort to stimulate venture creation. The competition kicked off in fall 2007 and offered several initiatives over the past months, including workshops, a new venture mentor program that provided access to real-world entrepreneurs, and an entrepreneurial boot camp, during which semi-finalist teams worked closely with coaches to refine their written business plans and presentation skills. The Berkley Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, which sponsors the competition, is dedicated to conducting and supporting entrepreneurship research and education at Stern.

New York University Stern School of Business, located in the heart of Greenwich Village, is one of the nation's premier management education schools and research centers. NYU Stern offers a broad portfolio of academic programs at the graduate and undergraduate levels, all of them informed and enriched by the dynamism, energy and deep resources of the world's business capital.