Winners in Schools of Business Escalator Competition prepare for 11th annual Elevator Competition

2.22.2010 General, News Release, School News

Two companies that focus on promoting personal well-being, health and fitness will represent Wake Forest University in the 11th Annual Elevator Competition.

The companies, Runners’ Base and Healthie, presented their ideas to judges Saturday, Feb. 20, during the school’s 2010 Escalator Competition, a preliminary contest for the right to compete in the Schools of Business international Elevator Competition event, scheduled March 26-27.

In all, eight teams – four competing in the Traditional business plan category and four in the Social Entrepreneurship track – took part in the Feb. 20 event.

Runners’ Base, which competed in the Traditional track, is a scientific and research-based market mapping and meta-site company that provides information for people looking for the best running shoes based on their personal biomechanics. Healthie, the winner in the Social track, was created to combat the national epidemic of unhealthy lifestyles. The winners will each receive $250, said Bentsen Falb (MBA ’10), and co-chair for the Wake Forest Elevator Competition.

Peppi Browne-Armstrong (MBA ’10), the founder and CEO of Runners’ Base, holds a master’s of science degree in bio-medical engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“I am truly honored and excited to be chosen to advance beyond the Escalator Competition and to be able to represent Wake Forest University Schools of Business in the upcoming Elevator Competition,” Browne-Armstrong said. “I have already begun to solidify my presentation by addressing the issues raised by both the judges and the audience. I have some work to do between now and the end of March but I am looking forward to the competition.”

Hal Eason, founder and managing director Agilis Equity Partners LLC, judged the Traditional track competition with Ram Baliga, John B. McKinnon Professor of Management in the Wake Forest Schools of Business.

“From what I’ve heard so far,” Eason told Browne-Armstrong after her presentation, “I want to hear more.”

Vincent Mac (MBA ’10) and Jon Pinder, associate professor of management in the Schools of Business, judged the Social track portion of the Escalator Competition.

Mac said the presentation for Social winner Healthie was thorough and complete. “I thought they did a great job.”

Healthie is a comprehensive Internet experience that counsels people in the three key aspects of health. Through personalized workout intensifications, nutritional guidance and psychological support, Healthie succeeds in making goals attainable, say company founders Brittany Bornhofen of Raleigh and Alexandra Paetow of Parkton, Md. Both are juniors at Wake Forest University.

“The presentation was a great opportunity to gain exposure to the atmosphere of the competition,” Bornhofen said. “We are excited to incorporate the feedback as we prepare for the Elevator Competition.”

“I would say that’s the biggest advantage of competing in the Escalator Competition is that we give students a chance to improve before they go to the actual competition,” said Baliga.

"Organizers this year made an effort to include more undergraduates in the competition,” said Falb, and he is optimistic the Wake Forest teams will do well in the Elevator event.

“A lot of the Escalator Competition is about giving some of the undergraduates competitors an opportunity to present their plans in a more formal setting to actual judges. For many this was the first time they have had this type of experience” said Falb, adding that those teams will have time to refine their business plans for the event in succeeding years. “Many have a good three years where they actually can go back and rework and retool, so they can be a little more competitive in the future.”

Teams in the 2010 Elevator Competition will compete for $100,000 in cash and prizes. The top finisher in the Business Plan competition will receive $10,000 cash; the highest-placing team that includes an MBA student will receive automatic entry into the Global Moot Corp Competition. The top Traditional Business Plan team will bypass the initial screening process with the Piedmont Angel Network, an institutional angel fund that invests more than $250,000 in early stage companies, and proceed to a member presentation to determine whether to proceed to due diligence. The Social Entrepreneurship Competition winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize.

The Elevator Competition, first held in 2000, allows students from schools around the world to test their skills at making the perfect “elevator pitch.” Teams perform a two-minute pitch (in an actual elevator) and based on making it through that qualifying round, have the opportunity to present a formal plan of their business venture to a panel of judges.