Undergraduates Win $30,000 in Awards at Rice, TCU Business Plan Competitions

Published on April 16, 2014

Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship Students Compete Against Top MBA Teams at Business Plan Competitions

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fifth in a series of stories highlighting the success of student business plan teams from the Bauer College’s Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship in Spring 2014. Each year, WCE students work with the university’s Division of Research to develop commercialization plans for technologies developed at the university. Over the past 12 years, Bauer teams have had 21 podium finishes in national business plan competitions.

Two teams of undergraduate students from the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship at the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston brought home $30,000 in awards at two different Texas business plan competitions this past week.

Energetik team at 4th Annual Richards Barrentine Values and Ventures Business Plan Competition

Bauer student team Energetik, including (from left) Rowbin Hickman, Jonathan Cohen-Kurzrock, Noy Shemer, Jonathan Brown and Brenda Rojo from the college’s Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship, placed third at the TCU Values and Ventures competition.

Bauer student team Energetik, including (from left) Rowbin Hickman, Jonathan Cohen-Kurzrock, Noy Shemer, Jonathan Brown and Brenda Rojo from the college’s Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship, placed third at the 4th Annual Richards Barrentine Values and Ventures Business Plan Competition at TCU.

Energetik, who placed third and received the Quicksilver Energy Independence Award at the 4th Annual Richards Barrentine Values and Ventures Business Plan Competition on April 12 at Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business, includes undergraduates Jonathan Brown, Jonathan Cohen-Kurzrock, Rowbin Hickman, Brenda Rojo and Noy Shemer. Their business plan focuses on a technology pioneered by UH Cullen College of Engineering Assistant Professor Yan Yao that replaces the anode of a battery with 100 percent organic materials, resulting in a longer-lasting solution.

“Opening our doors and partnering with other departments within the university is possibly one of the most powerful actions our university has ever taken,” entrepreneurship senior Shemer said. “This is definitely something that no other college or university is doing, and if they are doing it, it is only at the graduate level.”

The third place win for the team came with a $10,000 prize and an additional $5,000 prize for the Quicksilver Energy Independence Award.

WAVVE team at Rice Business Plan Competition

Bauer student team WAVVE, inlcuding (from left) Ivette Rubio, Sergey Petrov, Eric Beydoun, Valeria Bernadac and Julia Lonnegren, competed against graduate teams from UCLA, USC and Yale in the Rice Business Plan Competition and brought home the Wells Fargo Clean Tech prize.

Bauer student team WAVVE, inlcuding (from left) Ivette Rubio, Sergey Petrov, Eric Beydoun, Valeria Bernadac and Julia Lonnegren, competed against graduate teams from University of California Los Angeles, University of Southern California and Yale University in the Rice Business Plan Competition and brought home the Wells Fargo Clean Tech prize.

A second team, WAVVE, brought home the Wells Fargo Clean Tech prize during the Rice Business Plan Competition on April 12. The team – Valeria Bernadac, Eric Beydoun, Julia Lonnegren, Sergey Petrov and Ivette Rubio – included undergraduate students and was the first ever from Bauer to compete in the startup competition hosted and organized by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship. Graduate teams from the University of California Los Angeles, University of Southern California, Yale University and others around the world were in contention for more than $1.3 million in cash and prizes.

The Bauer team’s business plan focused on a technology developed by Debora Rodrigues, a UH civil engineering assistant professor, which focuses on purifying water using a nanotechnology coating solution.

“We have a nanotechnology coating solution that is applied to existing water filters that instantly kills bacteria and removes heavy metals,” Rubio said. “Potable water is a global issue, and our global team has been so excited for the opportunity to apply our diversity and come together to help on a global scale.”

More than 500 teams applied to the Rice competition, with just 42 invited to compete on campus. Of those, 15 made the semi-finals and only six advanced to the finals.

The undergraduate team’s prize was $15,000.

By Amanda Sebesta