Team from the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship Pitches Medical Software Firm,
Wins $60,000 Grand Prize at 2013 “California Dreamin’” Business Plan Competition
Four undergraduate students from the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston bested teams from across the U.S. that included MBA and Ph.D. participants to take the grand prize at the “California Dreamin’” Business Plan Competition in April.
The team, all students in the college’s Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship, included Kevin Cruz, Scott Black, Genevieve Simmons and Roger Seward, who presented their business plan for Imalysis, a medical software firm that saves lives by helping consumers analyze and track illnesses online through a patented algorithm.
“Making this company a reality would be amazing, and I feel confident that with the contacts we made, it could become real,” Black said
As the team pitched it, Imalysis focuses on catching illness in the first stage of development by empowering the most important people in the healthcare system, the doctor and the patient. UH Professor George Zouridakis, of the Department of Engineering Technology in the College of Technology, designed the technology behind the software and allowed the student team to commercialize it.
“We wanted to marry the talents and knowledge of Dr. Zouridakis and his team with the business mindset and entrepreneurial spirit of our team to take a fantastic product into the marketplace and bring UH research the credit that it deserves,” Black said.
The competition required the students to submit a written business plan describing the product, industry information, competition in the market, marketing plans and financial projections. After arriving in California, they participated in several rounds of competition that included face-to-face presentations in front of judging panels comprised of venture capitalists. The final round pitted five teams against each other for top honors.
The Bauer team’s preparation impressed judges, who awarded them first place and a $60,000 grand prize. The entrepreneurship courses within the Wolff Center were integral to the team’s success, Black said.
“They taught us how to work as a team and solve issues before they got in the way of getting things done,” he added. “Learning how to think like a CEO and building a business from the ground up really came into play when we were writing the 20-page business plan for Imalysis.”
The advice and mentorship that is built into the Wolff Center program was also invaluable, Black said.
Hosted by Chapman University, the “California Dreamin’” competition is in its second year. In 2012, Bauer College students won second place. This year’s competition took place April 26 and 27 and featured 25 schools, including Stanford, Cal Tech, Southern Cal, UCLA, UC-Berkeley, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, BYU, Colorado, Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU and Texas.
“The best part was watching the team learn and adapt, pivot on strategy, revise their plan and mature,” said Bill Bobbora, an executive professor at Bauer and the team’s advisor. “They were not really competing against other schools, but working to simply do their best, to win over the judging investors and to launch their business.”
By Amanda Sebesta