MBA Students Make Strong Showing in Bplan Contest

Four Berkeley MBA students were on winning teams at the 13th annual UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition on April 28 at the Haas School.

The winners were chosen from a record 200 teams that participated in the competition’s four tracks: IT and Web, Life Sciences, Products and Services, and Energy and Cleantech. The entries were narrowed down to eight semifinalists who gave presentations to a panel of venture capital judges from firms including Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, the Mayfield Fund, and Claremont Creek Ventures. The judges selected the winners from each track as well as the Grand Prize Winner.

Brandon Piper and Jonathan Stull, both MBA 12, were co-chairs of the student-organized competition, which is sponsored by the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and drew a standing-room-only crowd of more than 300 attendees. Since its inception in 1999, the competition has awarded more than $500,000 in prizes.

Here are details on this year’s winners:

Evening and weekend MBA student Huzefa Neemuchwala, MBA 13, is part of the Intimal Solutions team that won the $20,000 Grand Prize and the $5,000 first prize in the Life Sciences Track. The venture has developed a catheter-based technology to treat a disease called chronic deep venous insufficiency, which causes painful ulcers. Neemuchwala, who has a PhD in biomedical engineering, is in charge of the team’s business development.

The team’s project originated in an interdisciplinary entrepreneurial program called the Stanford Biodesign Fellowship, in which professionals with business, engineering, clinical, and scientific backgrounds are grouped together for a 10-month process to discover and solve un-met clinical needs. Before settling on a project, the team spent two months “living” in hospitals and wound care clinics and talking to patients, nurses, and doctors to ensure that the chosen project would address a true clinical need.

Intimal Solutions wins the $20,000 Bplan Competition grand prize. Pictured here are Bplan co-chair Jonathan Stull, MBA 12; Fletcher Wilson and Huzefa Neemuchwala, MBA 13, of Intimal Solutions; co-chair Brandon Piper, MBA 12, and Lester Center Executive Director Andre Marquis.

Zach Friedman, MBA 12, is a member of the Kopo Kopo team that took first place and $5,000 in the IT and Web Track. The team is focusing on mobile technology to enable financial services to serve the poor in Africa via simple text messages. To do so, however, institutions that serve the poor need an affordable way to integrate with mobile money systems. The team’s mission is to make that integration as simple and accessible as possible.

Brooks Kincaid, MBA 11, is part of the Imprint Energy team that won the $5,000 first prize in the Energy and Cleantech Track and won the $5,000 People’s Choice Award. A UC Berkeley spinoff, Imprint Energy has developed the first entirely printed rechargeable battery, which also offers the highest energy density at the lowest cost of any thin-format battery technology. Kincaid met partner Christine Ho, PhD 10 (Materials Sciences and Engineering) , in the Haas School’s Cleantech to Market course.

Evening and weekend student Amanda Vinson, MBA 12, is on the Axis team that won the $5,000 first prize in the Products and Services Track. Axis is a sports safety equipment company that has developed a proprietary spinal safety vest that protects the spine of participants in high-risk sports.

A team from UC Davis and UCSF that has formed a biotech company called Inserogen won the $1,000 Elevator Pitch Award, in which the audience chooses its favorite pitch from the 27 semi-finalists who did not advance to the final round. Inserogen aims to commercialize a technology that could enable accelerated manufacturing of life-saving vaccines in response to outbreaks such as the H1N1 pandemic.

Video of the event in its entirety is available on the Berkeley Entrepreneurs Forum website. A segmented video of the event is available on the Bplan website.