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  • Steven Woda

The Wharton School and Entrepreneurship

The Wharton Business Plan Competition took place earlier this month, and NP Solutions was the big winner for 2007. The new venture took home the $20,000 grand prize for a business that provides a polymer based injectable hydrogel treatment for back pain. Obviously, I wish these folks a bunch of luck with their new business.

As you may already know, I am a big fan of these collegiate competitions. buySAFE (formerly known as BondMyAuction) is a product of the Wharton Business Plan Competition, and so I can speak from experience when I say that these events can be very useful in getting entrepreneurial ventures launched. I actually entered the business plan competition in 2000 and 2001 with different ventures as a student.

Then after graduation, I teamed up with Peter Niessen, a 2002 MBA grad, to enter BondMyAuction in the 2002 Wharton Business Plan Competition (You need at least one current student on your team to participate, but the rest of the team can be alums, etc…). Peter was a terrific teammate, and he and I were able to make it to the Finals of the competition. Again, it was a great experience, and you can read about it in this recent article by the New York Times – "Beyond Grades: Business Students Put Their Start-Up Ideas to the Test"

One last interesting note for you…

Jeff Grass, buySAFE’s CEO, was also a finalist in the Wharton Business Plan competition in 1999 along with his business partner, John Tedesco (John is currently the CEO & President of Guardian Mobile Monitoring Systems). Jeff and John launched shortly after graduation, and they ultimately sold the company to PayTrust in 2000. Today, the company’s service is owned by Intuit, and it powers the bill payment and management solutions for some of the country’s largest financial institutions.

Needless to say, collegiate business plan competitions can provide aspiring entrepreneurs with a generous leg up on the formidable challenges of starting up a company out of school. For me, the Wharton Business Plan Competition experience was invaluable.

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