Inaugural UMD Business Model

Challenge Winners Announced

The Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) announces the winners of the inaugural University of Maryland Business Model Challenge.

The two winning UMD entrepreneur teams were selected from among 44 initial entries and 11 finalist teams, six of whom were selected to present the results they achieved through the Challenge's multi-week lean startup workshop to an expert panel of judges on April 26 at the University of Maryland.

All 11 finalists received $3,000 for completing the Challenge workshop, through which teams defined their business model, assessed the product/market fit for their technology, got feedback from at least 25 potential customers, then refined their product and business model based upon that feedback. Each team received funding to get out and talk to the required 25 customers.

The two teams showing the best results, progress and potential, winning an additional $5,000 each (plus $3K for completing the Challenge), included:

  • UMDTutor2Go: developing an online system to provide students with private, online tutoring via Skype, live instant messaging chats and audio broadcasts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
    Team: Chandra Smith, undergraduate student, Hillman Entrepreneurs Program, psychology, human development, and technology entrepreneurship; Changudra Smith, undergraduate student, Hillman Entrepreneurs Program, finance, marketing, and technology entrepreneurship.

  • Wheel Shields: developing a skateboarding accessory that solves "wheel bite" (a dangerous safety problem), keeps riders dry and allows riders to stand over their wheels.
    Team: Chase Kaczmarek, undergraduate student, management and entrepreneurship.

The additional four presenting finalist teams, each of which took home $3K, included:

  • CellTrace: developing an automated data extraction software program designed for researchers in the life sciences.
    Team: Deborah Hemingway, graduate student, biophysics; Frank Hemingway, graduate student, electrical and computer engineering; Joshua Juen, graduate student, University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign, electrical and computer engineering; and Kimberly Stroka, Johns-Hopkins University, post-doc, bioengineering.

  • Proteus: developing 3-D filament recycling solutions that allow users to convert waste plastic and plastic pellets into usable filament for 3-D printers.
    Team (all mechanical engineering undergraduates): Ethan Nusbaum, J. Scott Wheeler, and Kelly Kempf.

  • Tauros Engineering: developing a technology for the detection and monitoring of bridge scour.
    Team: Alison Flatau, Professor, aerospace engineering, Associate Dean for Research, Clark School of Engineering; Tyler Flatau, undergraduate student, government and politics; and Adrian Ross, MBA candidate, Harvard Business School. 

  • Vasoptic Medical: developing a medical device for the early diagnosis and management of diabetic retinopathy and other medical conditions.
    Team: M. Jason Brooke, alumnus, University of Maryland and University of Maryland, Baltimore; Abhishek Rege, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University.

The new UMD Business Model Challenge is based upon the growing Lean Startup movement, the foundations of which are drawn from Steve Blank's Stanford University Lean LaunchPad course and The Startup Owner's Manual, Alexander Osterwalder's Business Model Generation book, used as a framework for customer development, and workshops structured through the National Science Foundation's Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program.

Led and managed by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech), a unit of the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, the UMD Business Model Challenge encourages students, faculty, researchers, staff and recent alumni at UMD and University of Maryland, Baltimore to leverage their talent and ideas to create tomorrow's leading companies. The competition process, its mentors, partners and cash prizes have helped many students, faculty and researchers build their own companies.

The competition historically has spurred the commercialization of university technologies and served as a launch pad for multi-million-dollar companies, including AnthroTronix, RioRey, Alertus Technologies, Squarespace and Lurn.

Sponsors of the 2013 competition include Fish & Richardson P.C., Lockheed Martin, and Nixon Peabody LLP.

Business Model Challenge $5K ($8K total) winning team UMDTutor2Go, pictured, from left to right: Chandra Smith, undergraduate student, Hillman Entrepreneurs Program, psychology, human development, and technology entrepreneurship; Changudra Smith, undergraduate student, Hillman Entrepreneurs Program, finance, marketing, and technology entrepreneurship; and Carolyn Karlson, director of the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program. Click here or on the photo above for a full-resolution image.

Wheel Shields

Business Model Challenge $5K ($8K total) winner Wheel Shields, led by Chase Kaczmarek, undergraduate student, management and entrepreneurship. Click here or on the photo above for a full-resolution image.

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