|By PR Newswire||
|April 11, 2014 09:07 AM EDT||
NEWARK, N.J., April 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- There is surprisingly little technology displayed by the winners of Rutgers Business School's 2014 Business Plan Competition. Not one of the new businesses, for instance, involves an app.
Raymond Rossi, an instructor on the faculty of Management and Global Business who has overseen the competition since 2011, said the types of businesses that made it to the final round of this year's competition represented a sea change over last year.
"We went from one extreme to the other," Rossi said, noting the absence of apps and Internet-focused business plans.
"This year, we had a group of students who were very passionate," he said. "They showed an enormous amount of knowledge, and they presented very viable business models."
The two top winners, both Rutgers Flex MBA students, started companies that provide traditional services. Brian Bergen, owner of interior landscaping company, won the $20,000 first-place prize. Paula Zwiren, president of Zwiren Title Agency, received $15,000 for second place.
Sarah Blessing, who graduated from the Rutgers Flex MBA Program in January, came up with the idea for TRAINgle, which is developing a fitness product with some flair. Her team, which includes Flex MBA students Aamir Khan and Leann Cosley-Richardson and recent MBA grad Joanna Trzaska, won the $10,000 third-place prize.
"This is a huge confidence booster," Blessing said after the competition. "It's a first step."
The competition, which has been supported by the Sales Executives Club Foundation of New Jersey for nearly 15 years, has helped to launch a number of businesses, including Tea & Honey Blends (First place, 2011), Heart Juice (First place, 2012) and medical website Opcura (First place, 2013).
This year's winners were selected from a group of five finalists who were required to make pitches to a panel of three judges and answer questions about the viability of their new businesses, including the market potential and growth strategy.
Here are the winners' stories:
Even without a green thumb of his own, Brian Bergen is staking his entrepreneurial ambitions on the interior landscaping industry.
After spending time working in the industry, the Rutgers Flex MBA student said he saw an opportunity for a new player to enter a marketplace dominated by lots of small, established competitors.
"This seemed like it would be fun to do," Bergen said. "The competition is generally people who have been at this for a while and are still small. I thought I could enter, introduce technology and use my business knowledge to build a sustainable company."
In February, Bergen Botanicals celebrated eight months of business – and nearly $100,000 in sales – by winning the top prize of $20,000 in Rutgers Business School's annual business plan competition.
Bergen, who is studying entrepreneurship at Rutgers, received his undergraduate degree from West Point and then spent eight years in the U.S. Army flying Apache helicopters. His service included a stint in Iraq.
He said he originally thought the military's discipline had prepared him for the corporate world, but then he began to realize that what he really wanted was to have more influence over operations and decisions. In the end, his desire to influence how a company is run outweighed his comfort with structure.
"Until I started to navigate the corporate world," the 34-year-old Denville resident said, "I didn't know I would never be completely satisfied until I could do things the way I wanted – and not purely for the bottom line."
In creating Bergen Botanicals, he has adopted principles of social entrepreneurism that he will incorporate into his company as it grows. For instance, he plans to donate 20 percent of his profits to organizations that support veterans and to pay for employee health care benefits once he starts hiring full-time workers.
He also has taken steps to be certified as a benefits corporation, which holds him to certain business practices, including purchasing from local vendors and using suppliers who sign a code of ethics, prohibiting such things as child labor.
"I wanted to create a company that's doing more than making profits," Bergen said. "I wanted to create a company that's also good for people, good for the environment and society – and is well-run and profitable."
Zwiren Title Agency
Paula Zwiren grew up immersed in the real estate business. The conversation around her family's dinner table often revolved around the work of her parents – her father ran a title service agency, her mother was a realtor and her step-mother worked as a real estate attorney.
It's not surprising that she would end up in real estate.
After getting her law degree and spending nine years running a mortgage banker-owned title agency, Zwiren, who is a part-time Rutgers MBA student, said she started thinking about going into business for herself.
When federal lawmakers enacted new regulations designed to tighten standards banks follow when they're doing business with third-party title agencies. The changes made Zwiren's idea of starting her own company even more viable because of the knowledge and experience she had gained working closely with the mortgage industry.
"I thought if I'm ever going to open my own company, this would be the time," the 37-year-old said. "My experience makes me confident that I'll be able to help lenders through the changes, which require them to follow tougher standards."
The opening of her company last fall coincided with an announcement about the business plan competition. "The timing was perfect," Zwiren said. "It gave me a chance to hammer out details in a way that I would not have done."
The second place $15,000 prize money will help Zwiren market her new agency, but she is also hoping the recognition of winning the competition will give her business credibility and an early promotional boost.
There's no shortage of people who tried to tell Zwiren how tough it might be to build a business. Ray Rossi, a Rutgers Business School instructor who runs the business plan competition and serves as a judge, described the job of running a title service agency as unglamorous and intensely competitive.
"She had a good understanding of what needed to be done," Rossi said. "She'll be using her background as an attorney and her contacts in the business."
Zwiren, who plans to complete her MBA studies in 2015, is determined that with hard work and keeping to simple business principles she will be build a successful company.
"I feel like I have an incredible value to add," she said. "In my heart, I know I will find customers who share a value system with me. If I find attorneys who look at things the way I do, who believe in informing and advocating for the customer, I know this will work."
Sarah Blessing was nervous about presenting her idea for a more stylish-looking fitness band to other Flex MBA students in her Foundations of Entrepreneurship class.
But as it turned out, making that presentation was like setting her idea on a launch pad. It triggered a momentum that has provided Blessing and three of her classmates with a genuine taste of what it's like to be entrepreneurs.
After the presentation, Blessing partnered up with classmates Leann Cosley-Richardson, Aamir Khan and Joanna Trzaska to build TRAINgle – a play on the word bangle – around Blessing's idea.
"I wanted to find a way to fit the fitness in me with the fashionista in me," said Blessing who finished the MBA program in January. "The whole point is to wear it all the time, but if you're dressed up, it looks horrible in my opinion."
Like Blessing, Cosley-Richardson, Khan and Trzaska share an interest in fitness and saw the market potential for a more stylish device.
As part of the class project, the team did market research to show the prospects for the product and they used their networks to explore possible funding sources. "As we did each piece, doors kept opening," Blessing said.
During a class trip, for instance, Rutgers Business School Professor Jeffrey Robinson introduced the students to the capabilities of Rutgers Makerspace on the Livingston Campus. The team returned to Makerspace to enlist the help of Ali Hashemi, a Rutgers College senior, who has helped them develop a prototype using 3-D printing technology.
As their class was coming to an end and the students were wrapping up their project, Blessing and her team decided to enter the Rutgers business plan competition. By then the team, as Blessing put it, felt an excitement of "really being onto something."
The team captured third place in the business plan competition and secured $10,000 in prize money that it plans to use to continue developing a prototype and secure a patent on their design.
TRAINgle is still in the concept phase, but Trzaska said each time the team moved to the next round of the business plan competition, it "validated" their efforts. Now, the four are pressing on, juggling classes and jobs with the work involved in building a business.
"We want to push it as far as we can," Khan said. "The experience itself is worthwhile."
For more information about the annual Rutgers Business Plan Competition, go to http://www.business.rutgers.edu.
SOURCE Rutgers Business School
Every day we read jaw-dropping stats on the explosion of data. We allocate significant resources to harness and better understand it. We build businesses around it. But we’ve only just begun. For big payoffs in Big Data, CIOs are turning to cognitive computing. Cognitive computing’s ability to securely extract insights, understand natural language, and get smarter each time it’s used is the next, logical step for Big Data.
May. 24, 2015 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,190
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
May. 24, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,998
SYS-CON Events announced today that MetraTech, now part of Ericsson, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Ericsson is the driving force behind the Networked Society- a world leader in communications infrastructure, software and services. Some 40% of the world’s mobile traffic runs through networks Ericsson has supplied, serving more than 2.5 billion subscribers.
May. 24, 2015 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,658
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
May. 24, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,478
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
May. 24, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,565
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
May. 24, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 6,607
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
May. 24, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,832
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo, June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be
May. 24, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,300
Container frameworks, such as Docker, provide a variety of benefits, including density of deployment across infrastructure, convenience for application developers to push updates with low operational hand-holding, and a fairly well-defined deployment workflow that can be orchestrated. Container frameworks also enable a DevOps approach to application development by cleanly separating concerns between operations and development teams. But running multi-container, multi-server apps with containers is very hard. You have to learn five new and different technologies and best practices (libswarm, sy...
May. 24, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,207
SYS-CON Events announced today that DragonGlass, an enterprise search platform, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. After eleven years of designing and building custom applications, OpenCrowd has launched DragonGlass, a cloud-based platform that enables the development of search-based applications. These are a new breed of applications that utilize a search index as their backbone for data retrieval. They can easily adapt to new data sets and provide access to both structured and unstruc...
May. 24, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,026
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...
May. 24, 2015 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 4,059
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
May. 24, 2015 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 5,331
SYS-CON Events announced today that the "First Containers & Microservices Conference" will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. The “Second Containers & Microservices Conference” will take place November 3-5, 2015, at Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
May. 24, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,301
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists will peel away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fil...
May. 24, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,022
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
May. 24, 2015 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 6,868
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
May. 24, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,839
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
May. 24, 2015 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 4,366
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial Cloud.
May. 24, 2015 06:30 AM EDT Reads: 5,613
Sensor-enabled things are becoming more commonplace, precursors to a larger and more complex framework that most consider the ultimate promise of the IoT: things connecting, interacting, sharing, storing, and over time perhaps learning and predicting based on habits, behaviors, location, preferences, purchases and more. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tom Wesselman, Director of Communications Ecosystem Architecture at Plantronics, will examine the still nascent IoT as it is coalescing, including what it is today, what it might ultimately be, the role of wearable tech, and technology gaps stil...
May. 24, 2015 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,515
The explosion of connected devices / sensors is creating an ever-expanding set of new and valuable data. In parallel the emerging capability of Big Data technologies to store, access, analyze, and react to this data is producing changes in business models under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular within the Insurance industry, IoT appears positioned to enable deep changes by altering relationships between insurers, distributors, and the insured. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Sick, a Senior Manager and Big Data Architect within Ernst and Young's Financial Servi...
May. 24, 2015 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,991