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Business Plans Battle for Big Bucks

Winning team in ITEC contest will be awarded $50,000

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climbwell1.jpg

Seth Joseph (GSM’07) and Adam DiNicola (GSM’00) of ClimbWell took first place in the 2007 ITEC $30K Business Plan Competition.

Before the buzzer sounds tonight, the finalists in the 2008 ITEC $50K Business Plan Competition, which will choose one winner from four new business presentations, are hoping for a little extra “click” of support from audience members — a boost that may sway the judges when it comes time to deliberate.

This new interactive twist to the annual Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (ITEC) competition will give audience members the chance to vote in real time, says Beth Goldstein, ITEC associate director of communications. ITEC, centered at the School of Management, is an educational resource for the entire University as well as the local, national, and international communities, providing a full range of education, training, mentoring, and networking programs and opportunities that support new entrepreneurs

While the decision of the judges — a panel of venture capitalists and business leaders — will not be based solely on the number of votes, Goldstein says votes in favor of a particular team can only help. “The judges will definitely take the votes into consideration,” she says. “They will be looking at the actual plan proposed, how the finalists articulated their goals, plus the audience votes.”

The final projects are AutoNAIS, which proposes a new product that helps biologists save time and effort with sample preparation; RemesaTel, which hopes to provide inexpensive access to credit and trading opportunities through mobile text messaging in Mexico; Nakama Media, which will sell its online multimedia language learning tool MediaLesson in Japan and Korea, and Essense Medical, which develops disposable medical tools, initially focused on colorectal cancer, to diagnose and treat cancer in real time.

Roberto Reif (ENG’08), who will present Essense Medical’s plan, hopes to be over his prepresentation jitters by the time the competition starts. He says the tools made by his proposed business incorporate a patented optical biopsy sensor, which can identify cancerous tissues noninvasively by using light, thereby allowing doctors to pinpoint the area for treatment.

“Our next step is to get enough funding to make it functional,” says Reif. “Hospitals and insurance companies can save time and money and screen more patients with our product. There are about 23 million people who need to get colonoscopy procedures, but only about 8 million get screened — because there are not enough gastroenterologists. With our device, they might be able to see them all.”

Scott Caffrey (GSM’09), who will present the proposal for Nakama Media, says his presentation will include as online content music, news clips, and movies. “One big difference over there is that we’ll have the site accessible over mobile phones,” he says. “That is the predominant use of online services in Japan and Korea.”

Caffrey says the $50,000 prize is just part of what ITEC offers the finalists. “We’ve used some of the services, like legal and presentation advice,” he says. “The best part was getting us focused on a business plan, which we put on paper. It’s great just to get the idea out and in front of the panel of judges.”

The annual competition is supported by a variety of business partners, including Brown Rudnick, a Platinum Sponsor, and Seyfarth Shaw, a Gold Sponsor. Other sponsors are Cummings Properties, GrandBanks Capital, Kodiak Venture Partners, Paul Horn & Associates, TeleEMG (the 2005 competition winner), SV Life Sciences, and World Wide Entrepreneurship Holdings Corporation.

The ITEC $50K Business Plan Competition takes place Wednesday, April 9, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the School of Management, fourth floor. Registration is at 5:30 p.m.

Kim Cornuelle can be reached at kcornuel@bu.edu.

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