CORAL GABLES, Fla., April 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New ventures including a boat shoe seller, a health care provider and a social entrepreneurship program built around a café have taken top honors in the University of Miami's 2013 Business Plan Competition, hosted by the university's School of Business Administration. The competition winners, honored in an awards ceremony April 19, took home a combined total of $30,000 in first, second, third and other prizes.
Jason Shuman won the Grand Prize and $5,000 in the undergraduate student category for Category 5 Boat Shoes, a shoe wholesale, retailer and e-commerce site that provides logo customization on shoes. In the graduate student category, Rimsky Denis, Karan Srivastava, Onyi Ugorji, and Chaitanya Vadlamudi took home the Grand Prize and $5,000 for their venture, S.H.H.A.D.E, which helps solve the problem of emergency room overutilization by bringing health care providers directly to patients in their homes. And in the UM alumni category, Sandi Vidal won the Grand Prize and $5,000 for Savory Community Café, a café and social entrepreneurship program that provides employment and teaches soft and transferable skills to job seekers.
"I love seeing young entrepreneurs executing on their business models and driving revenue while they are still students," said PT United founder Quinn Worden, who returned as a competition judge one year after he won first place in the contest as a UM School of Business senior. "They're really executing. It has to be more than an idea, it has to be an opportunity you can really execute on and that's what we've seen in this competition."
Second Place in the undergraduate category and $2,500 went to Lisa Weintraub for Sol Food, an organic and sustainable tapas bar that promotes not only a commitment to the body, but also to the environment. Second Place in the graduate category and $2,500 went to Stephen Spiegel and Juan Barrera for CrewHu, an online platform that helps businesses create, execute and track contests in order to motivate and retain employees. Second Place in the alumni category and $2,500 went to Obediah Ben Samuel for Luxshare Luxury Car Share, an online peer-to-peer automotive rental marketplace focused exclusively on luxury and exotic car brands.
There was a tie for Third Place in the undergraduate category with $1,000 going to Ana Gil, Lili Qiu and Shuai Wang for uTextBook Exchange, an online textbook selling service for U.S. college students; and another $1,000 going to Parker Barnett for Huah.co, an online service that allows users to search for and book fitness instructors, classes and sessions at gyms. Third Place and $1,000 in the graduate category went to Whitney Kimmel and Alexander Shapiro for KOLYR, a Miami-based lifestyle company that allows consumers to express their passions through color with versatile, lightweight unisex footwear; while Third Place and $1,000 in the alumni category went to Stanley Satz for Advanced Imaging Projects, a pioneer in first-in-class theranostics for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
"Some of these companies are already up and running and winning gives them the extra capital they need to scale their businesses," said Susana Alvarez, interim director of entrepreneurship programs at the UM School of Business. "We saw a remarkable improvement from the moment they submitted their concept papers to the final presentations, which shows the value that mentors provide," said Alvarez, noting that in January the entrepreneurs were partnered with South Florida industry mentors to help them develop their plans.
In addition to the undergraduate, graduate and alumni category prizes, the Paul K. Sugrue Entrepreneurial Spirit Award and $1,000 was presented to graduate students Chad Brick, Joshua Banner, Joseph Coconate, Caroline Ferris, Oscar Harada, and Ryan Keller. The prize is presented annually to the team that has demonstrated the highest spirit of entrepreneurship. The five semifinalist teams that did not place each received $500 in prize money.
The Business Plan Competition started last fall when 66 concept papers were submitted to the judging committee. Ultimately 15 semifinalists were selected to present to the judges April 18, with the winners named the following day. The judges included a dozen successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists from South Florida and across the country.
Now in its 11th year, the Business Plan Competition is open to all University of Miami students and alumni. Past winners in the competition have gone on to build their ventures into businesses that have garnered national attention. They include such companies as College Hunks Hauling Junk and My Therapy Journal.com, both of which have been featured on ABC Television's "Shark Tank," a reality program in which entrepreneurs share their business ideas with a group of five self-made millionaires in hopes of getting venture capital to help them attain similar levels of success.
SOURCE University of Miami School of Business Administration