UP FOR GRABS: FAU Offers $200,000 In Business Plan Contest

Florida Atlantic UniversityBOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — The contest is over for this year — sorry — but the winners of FAU’s Business Plan Competition may be ones to watch as their ideas are a little closer to reality, thanks to the financial support of Florida Atlantic University.

According to the school:

Florida Atlantic University’s Adams Center for Entrepreneurship and the College of Business, along with the Research Park at FAU, recently hosted the 2013 FAU Business Plan Competition. More than 230 registered teams comprised of FAU students, members of the business community, alumni and, for the first time, the Greater Boca Raton’s Young Entrepreneurship Academy students, competed for a share of more than $200,000 in cash and prizes.

“The competition inspires and empowers FAU students and entrepreneurs,” said Kimberly Gramm, assistant dean and director of the Adams Center for Entrepreneurship at FAU.   “Our community has some of the most successful entrepreneurs who are making a difference mentoring other local entrepreneurs with their start-ups. This year’s competitors were outstanding due to the support of our community.”

More than 700 guests attended the three-day competition events, which provided an opportunity for participants to compete and test their business ideas. Sixteen teams advanced to the final round of events. Teams submitted their plans in one of two categories: the Entrepreneur Track, which was designated for alumni and members of the business community-at-large; or the Student Track, which was open to current FAU students only. The Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) Investor Panel, an addition to this year’s event, featured students in seventh through 12th grades, who developed legitimate businesses and pitch to investors for seed funding.

The YEA! Investor Panel scholarship winner was Bronson Bloom for his business Musical Cares, a 501(c)(3) that provides musical instruments to schools in need. Bronson is a junior at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale and will compete in two weeks for a $30,000 scholarship nationally in Rochester, N.Y., representing South Florida.

The student-track winners, receiving $55,000 in cash and prizes, were FAU students Mathew Hudson, Andrew Stadtlander and Haley Grosky for their company Stadson Technology,a software solutions company. HelpN, their entry into the competition, is an emergency application that bridges the gap between the user and the emergency service they need.  The company’s business model is a patent-pending technology that can instantly access specific functionalities on a smart phone and reduce the time to alert authorities. It is licensed to education institutions to keep students safe.

The entrepreneur-track winner of the competition and $55,000 in cash and prizes was Kimberly Munzo for her company, AspirEDU, Inc. Munzo’s entry, Aspire Analytics, is a software company targeting for-profit online high schools and colleges. The software tool provides a dashboard to allow administrators to identify students most at risk for dropping out of online classes with the goal to improve retention rates.

The welcome reception offered the opportunity for participating teams to meet and network with experienced venture capital principals, early-stage angel investors, successful entrepreneurs and senior business leaders. Each team presented a 90-second elevator pitch and attendees voted for their favorite idea, awarding Mike Hancock, founder of the social media application LYVLY, the People’s Choice Award and a $5,000 cash prize sponsored by Office Depot. LYVLY is revolutionizing video usage with the ability to share live streaming video to a network of friends.

FAU President Mary Jane Saunders presided over the 2013 awards ceremony. The event’s keynote speaker Bernie Marcus, chairman of the Marcus Foundation and co-founder of Home Depot, provided the keynote address.

Other attendees included David Bates, shareholder of Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart; Hein Onkenhout, entrepreneur; Marti LaTour, Belle Capital; Bruce Rector, president of The Rector Group; Andrew Duffell, president of the Research Park at FAU; Bob White, shareholder of Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart, P.A.; Rhys Williams, president and co-founder of New World Angels, Inc., Casey Swercheck Capital South Partners, Barry Steiner, Ladenburg Thalmann and many others.

Mentors, judges and 105 volunteers assisted in the successful implementation of the event, contributing more than 1,800 hours of service to the College. Community partnerships enable the Adams Center for Entrepreneurship to continue its support for entrepreneurial programs and early stage companies. Sponsors for the 2013 competition include presenting sponsor Research Park at Florida Atlantic University; Enterprise Florida Inc.; 99Designs; OwlTutoring; Modernizing Medicine, One-Load.com; Office Edge; The Chester Foundation; MoreVisibility; Gunster; RedLetter; 3Cinteractive; Northwestern Mutual; Fox Rothschild; Gold Coast Venture Capital Association; Office Depot; Florida Power & Light; United Capital; Business Growth Advisors; Silver Sponsors; FPL Energy Services; The Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce; The Rector Group; Arnold & Barbara D Cohen; Daszkal Bolton;SBA Communications; MobileHelp; Caerus Ventures; Sun-Sentinel; SEP Communications; NCCI Holdings, Inc.; New World Angels; and Steve Sponder.

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