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Student Entrepreneurs Take Home $42,000 in Annual Business Plan Competition Hosted by the School of Business

April 01, 2011
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    ug winners

(L-R) Frances Aldrich Sevilla-Sacasa, interim dean of the School of
Business, with first place undergraduate winners Lianne Landa and
Zack Hirsch; and Ken Colwell, director of the School’s entrepreneurship

The students behind a bacteria killing spray and a clothing company took the top prizes in the annual University of Miami Business Plan Competition, sponsored by the School of Business Administration. The winners were announced April 1, shortly after the undergraduate and graduate students competed in the final round of the contest, which is now in its ninth year.

Zack Hirsch and Lianne Landa, both entrepreneurship majors at the School of Business, won the Grand Prize and $10,000 in the undergraduate student category for MicrobeArmour, a spray that disinfects facilities by killing and repelling bacteria and pathogens. In the graduate category, David Lerner, who earned his MBA from the School of Business in December 2010, Trevor Cowan, an undergraduate student, and Jay Hirschfield, a 2009 alumnus of the School of Communications, won the Grand Prize and $10,000 for their venture, Chiral, an apparel and design company that uses high-resolution photography to design clothing from images.

Second Place in the undergraduate category and $5,000 went to Carl Mbao, an economics major at the School of Business, and Shahzain Malik, an entrepreneurship major, for eTuk, which aims to assemble and distribute to dealers in Pakistan an electric motorcycle taxi. Second place in the graduate category and $5,000 went to Fabiana Claure and William Villaverde, both doctoral students at the Frost School of Music, for Superior Academy of Music, a piano studio that provides private piano lessons.

grad winners  

(L-R) Frances Aldrich Sevilla-Sacasa, interim dean of the School of
Business, with first place graduate winners David Lerner, Trevor Cowan
and Jay Hirschfield; and Ken Colwell, director of the School’s
entrepreneurship programs.


Third Place in the undergraduate category and $2,500 was awarded to Quin Worden, a marketing and finance major at the School of Business, for PT United, a service that gives physical therapists, trainers and others the opportunity to become distributors of medical and therapy equipment. Third place in the graduate category and $2,500 went to MBA students Spencer Lewin, Dustin Ottemiller and Marc Jacocks for Nanoscan, a corrosion detection system.

Fourth Place in the undergraduate category and $1,000 went to business students Andrew Cohen, a management and marketing major, Scott Feldman, an entrepreneurship major, and Leila Siddique, a management and finance major, for On the Can, a provider of daily entertainment and leisure reading distributed via e-mail, a blog and a website.

In addition to the top undergraduate and graduate prizes, the Paul K. Sugrue Entrepreneurial Spirit Award and $2,000 was presented to Fabiana Claure. The prize is presented annually to the student who has demonstrated the highest spirit of entrepreneurship. There were also five other awards given to winners in each of the following categories:

  • Best Written Plan, Undergraduate: Valerie Major, an entrepreneurship major at the School of Business Administration, for Web Care Connect, a social networking application and browser for seniors.
  • Best Written Plan, Graduate: tie, between Spencer Lewin, Dustin Ottemiller and Marc Jacocks, for Nanoscan; and Fabiana Claure and William Villaverde for Superior Academy of Music.
  • Best Elevator Pitch, Undergraduate: Quinn Worden, for PT United.
  • Best Elevator Pitch, Graduate: Spencer Lewin, Dustin Ottemiller and Mare Jacocks, for Nanoscan.
  • UM CIBER Best Global Born Plan: Fernando Nin, Raisa Marrero and Gabriela De La Torr, for a venture that offers pooled resources for credit, lending and investment groups.

The 2011 Business Plan Competition started last fall, when 70 proposals were submitted to the judging committee. Of those, 22 teams were selected to submit full business plans and to present their ideas in the semifinal round March 31. The following day, four undergraduate and three graduate teams competed in the final round, where the winners in each category were determined. The judges included nearly two dozen successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists from across the country.

The members of the School’s Entrepreneurship Advisory Board chaired by Sandy Goldstein, BBA ’81, MBA ’83, president, Capsicum Group LLC are supporters of the entrepreneurship program and competition, many serving as judges and mentors.  Members include: Romero Britto, Britto Central, Ruy Chaves, Plastrom Tecnologia Ltda, Oscar DiVeroli, president and CEO, Lexad Group LLC, immediate past president of the Entrepreneur’s Organization South Florida Chapter, Greg Forgatch, co-founder, eHarmony, William Heffner, BBA ’77, president, Agg Rok Materials, Thomas E. Pfeiffer, BA ’93, MBA ’02, private wealth advisor, Goldman, Sachs & Co., Rodolfo Pittaluga, Jr., BBA ’81, principal, Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP, Florida/Puerto Rico, Orlando Roche, regional president, Lydian Bank and Trust, Arthur Steier, president, Schmann Steier Inc, Richard P. Tonkinson, MBA '84, MPA '85, senior associate and founder, Rick Tonkinson & Associates, Betty G. Amos, BBA ’73, MBA ’75, president, The Abkey Companies, David L. Epstein, managing partner, Presidential Capital Partners, Robert Newman, founder, Greenwood Gulch Ventures.

Established in 2003, the Business Plan Competition is open to all University of Miami students. Past winners in the competition have gone on to build their ventures into businesses that have gotten 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. More information about the competition and past winners can be found on the competition website.

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