International Judge to Participate in Elevator Competition

3.18.2008 General, News Release, School News

It’s a year of firsts for the ninth annual Wake Forest University Elevator Competition.

For the first time, the business plan competition is opening a second bank of elevators to social entrepreneurs as well as to undergraduates March 28-29 at the Wachovia building in downtown Winston-Salem.

In another first, the competition that hosts international teams from as far away as Asia will have an international judge.

Dr. Sibilla Nagel

Dr. Sibilla Nagel is an economist and a lawyer for Peters Schönberger & Partner in Munich, Germany. Nagel has worked with Daniel Egger in the past on venture capital funds and Egger invited Nagel to the competition. Egger, managing partner of Eno River Capital, is a longtime venture capitalist, angel investor and active entrepreneur. Along with Stan Mandel, executive professor and director of the Angell Center for Entrepreneurship, Egger is credited with co-founding the Elevator Competition.

“We worked together ages ago, but we’ve been in contact on a regular basis and he said ‘I think you would be the right person to do it,’” Nagel said. “I think it’s a little crazy, but I’m excited about it.”

It’s a little crazy because Nagel is flying into Charlotte on Friday night, judging the competition on Saturday and flying back to Germany on Sunday. She said she has such a short turnaround because she has to be in Milan on Monday for a conference of Italian bio-tech firms seeking venture capital money.

Nagel advises small and large start-up companies in their corporate and business development efforts. She focuses on mergers and acquisitions and venture capital transactions, and represents companies and venture capitalists in financing rounds. Her field of expertise also includes all issues concerning technology transfer, licensing, research and development collaborations, and related matters in German and European antitrust law.

Nagel said she wants to judge the Elevator Competition because she’s interested in seeing what ideas young people have today. “I want to see how mature they are in setting up their business plans,” she said. “When you have a lot of experience, you look at things differently. It’ll be a refreshing change and something different from the everyday work that I’m doing here.”

What’s behind a successful business plan? Nagel says there isn’t just one element. “First, they need to have a good idea, and then they need to really focus on the market and what the potential would be,” she said. “A good business plan is short and to the point.”

Short may be the key to the Wake Forest competition. Like those participating in the traditional MBA business plan competition, social entrepreneur teams will have a two-minute elevator ride during which to pitch their ideas to venture capitalists.

The competition will feature 14 teams in social entrepreneurship and 12 teams in the for-profit field. Schools represented include Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Chicago, Columbia University, the University of Michigan, New York University, the University of North Carolina and Wake Forest. Pitch finalists will give a 20-minute presentation to a panel of venture capitalists, and the winners will receive cash awards and professional services to help turn their ideas into reality. The total value of cash and prizes could reach up to $110,000.

Related articles and information

  • Read a blog by the Elevator Competition Committee as they prepare for the event
  • Elevator Competition Website
  • Watch a video on YouTube about the Wake Forest Elevator Competition (Read about the director Jeff Giordano in a blog entry hosted by The New York Times entitled Sometimes Networking Is Just Saying Hello)
  • <a data-cke-saved-href="" href="" onclick="popup" ==""'http:="""" apps="" galleries="" index.cfm?id="30'," 'popuppage',="" 'height="600,width=880,scrollbars=yes,resizable=yes');" return="" false"="" onkeypress="popup ='', 'PopupPage', 'height=600,width=880,scrollbars=yes,resizable=yes'); return false" target="site_ext_window">View a photo gallery from the 2007 Elevator Competition
  • Elevator Competition on Wikipedia