As a budding entrepreneur, isn’t it tough enough to get funds in the door, ship products out the door, maintain your daily chores and bring your toddlers to violin lessons next door? So why subject yourself to the effort and anxiety of competing against other really, really smart Wharton alumni in the second annual Wharton Alumni Business Plan Competition?
The chairs of the b-plan competition, Kofi Kankam and Jay Bakhru, both WG’04 Cohort C, evince the good-humored confidence to answer that question. Kofi has already set up a cell phone services company in India and an educational software firm, now assists candidates to enter the business schools of their choice through the company he founded (www.admitadvantage.com). Jay, after a stint at Citibank, set up a user-friendly service to help medical professionals learn exactly the Spanish they need (www.languagetailor.com). Now, that’s Wharton global confidence!
So, what are the benefits to competitors?
Early-stage companies get to showcase themselves to venture capitalists, successful entrepreneurs and established angel investors.
Competitors receive feedback on their plans’ concept, financial model, business model, market place, management team, etc.
Non-winners get meaningful feedback and specific advice on what their companies need to do to ultimately receive funding.
Who else is on your team?
Mark Chou, WG’09, a recent alumni working at Blackstone Group, has been vital in establishing our Facebook page and Web presence. We are also working closely with Jack Huang, MSE’03, who is our “glue guy.” Jack has been really terrific helping us iron out any integration issues between the Wharton Alumni Business Plan Competition website and the Wharton Club of New York website. The competition is housed in the club’s Business Development Division, led by Bob Boyd, WG’06, Founder and President of Boston Street Advisors. Bob has been involved in 25 start-ups and serves on the National Advisory Council of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Are you working in concert with the Wharton School?
Emily Gohn Cieri, Managing Director, and Clare Leinweber and Megan Mitchell, Senior Associate Directors, of the Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs (WEP), have been terrific in helping us to solicit business plans and market the competition to other clubs on the East Coast! Working with WEP gives us a lot of hope that this will only grow every year.
This must be a huge undertaking. Why did your team take it on?
We wanted to make a contribution to the school, meet other key people in the entrepreneurial space, as well as investors, and just get more immersed in that community. These people are fun to be around and share lots of creative ideas!
What have been your key challenges?
Not as many as we expected! There are the typical startup glitches. The integration with the club’s website was a challenge at first, but as a team, we made it work.
What ’s new in the second year of the competition?
We expanded the competition to welcome alumni from other clubs.
We have a much more visible web presence.
We built on last year’s relationship with WEP.
More companies have applied.
The event has more varied judges.
Can you describe some of the contenders?
The contenders are quite a varied bunch. We have a wide range of industries represented including mobile, retail, online ticketing, software productivity, beverages and online dating. This list represents a smattering of what we have received – the diversity of creativity within business is a hallmark of Wharton and this contest is certainly adhering to that notion.