Impressive list of teams gearing up for 2009 Wake Forest University Elevator Competition

2.23.2009 General, News Release, School News

You have two minutes.

That’s not a lot of time, especially when you’re trying to sell an idea for a new business – on an elevator.

And you’re time starts … now.

The 10th annual Wake Forest University Elevator Competition is March 27-28 in the Wachovia building in downtown Winston-Salem. An impressive list of competitors will compete in the 2009 event, which again features both the traditional Business Plan category as well as the Social Entrepreneurship track.

A total of 24 teams – including two from Wake Forest — representing schools from the United States, Canada and Sweden, will take a two-minute elevator ride, when they will pitch their ideas to venture capitalists. Pitch finalists will give a 20-minute presentation to a panel of venture capitalists, and the winners will receive part of the $85,000 purse which includes professional services, cash and prizes.

The top finisher in the Business Plan competition will receive $10,000 in cash; the highest-placing team that includes an MBA student will receive automatic entry into the Global Moot Corp Competition. The Social Entrepreneurship Competition winner will receive $5,000.

“Ten years is a terrific achievement for an event like the Elevator Competition,” said Stan Mandel, executive professor and director of the Angell Center for Entrepreneurship at the Babcock school. “The quality of participants this year is fitting for this milestone. Our student organizers have done an outstanding job of refocusing the competition into appropriate ‘power alleys.’ Additionally, in recognition of the breadth of interest in entrepreneurship across campuses, we have opened the competition to any college student rather than just MBAs. World-class competitions develop over time, and ours continues to evolve to be significant to our students and the domain of entrepreneurship.”

Among the teams chosen to compete of the more than 80 that applied are Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie-Mellon University, Cornell University and the University of Cincinnati. International competitors include Queen’s University of Kingston, Ontario, and Lund University of Lund, Sweden.

Diana Morse is a second-year Babcock MBA student and a chair of the event. She said this year’s competition will feature entries from a variety of disciplines — “everything from technical, to medical devices, to life sciences,” she said.

In last year’s social competition, teams from Georgetown University and George Washington University outscored 13 teams with a business plan called Bonseye Guides. The team planned to use its winnings to provide deaf people and others access to audio tours at museums through personal media players. The winner of the MBA portion of the business plan competition for 2008 was a team from the University of Michigan, which planned to use its winnings to help turn its business plan for Potentia into reality. Potentia uses breakthrough energy scavenging technology to extend the lifetime of wireless sensors for a battery-replacement product.

The event begins with a dinner Friday night at the University and culminates Saturday, when teams of up to four participants, composed of both graduate and undergraduate students, board the elevator to make their pitch. Judges will evaluate the respective business plans and presentations based on the likelihood of the plan becoming viable and sustainable while articulating the area that will be positively affected, the social value created and the team resources ready to see the plan to fruition.

Also taking part this year are teams from the University of Illinois-Chicago; Rice University; Brigham Young University (three teams); University of Michigan (two teams); Colorado State University; University of Louisville; University of Arkansas; University of Delaware; and the Illinois Institute of Technology.

From Wake Forest University, a team from the Babcock Graduate School of Management will compete with, a Web site that connects parents looking for flexible, professional-level positions with companies seeking employees for part-time, home-based, contract-based or job-sharing positions. Undergraduate Wake Forest students Ben Comer and Brett Apter will participate in the Social Entrepreneurship track with, which is currently online and growing. The Web site promotes Winston-Salem businesses that offer advertising discounts for students at Wake Forest.