|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
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Jul. 30, 2015 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 439
MuleSoft has announced the findings of its 2015 Connectivity Benchmark Report on the adoption and business impact of APIs. The findings suggest traditional businesses are quickly evolving into "composable enterprises" built out of hundreds of connected software services, applications and devices. Most are embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) and microservices technologies like Docker. A majority are integrating wearables, like smart watches, and more than half plan to generate revenue with APIs within the next year.
Jul. 30, 2015 02:30 PM EDT
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
Jul. 30, 2015 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 257
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, d...
Jul. 30, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,044
In his keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Rodney Rogers, CEO of Virtustream, discussed the evolution of the company from inception to its recent acquisition by EMC – including personal insights, lessons learned (and some WTF moments) along the way. Learn how Virtustream’s unique approach of combining the economics and elasticity of the consumer cloud model with proper performance, application automation and security into a platform became a breakout success with enterprise customers and a natural fit for the EMC Federation.
Jul. 30, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,146
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Jul. 29, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,263
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affect their organization.
Jul. 29, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,179
For IoT to grow as quickly as analyst firms’ project, a lot is going to fall on developers to quickly bring applications to market. But the lack of a standard development platform threatens to slow growth and make application development more time consuming and costly, much like we’ve seen in the mobile space. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Weiner, Product Manager of the Omega DevCloud with KORE Telematics Inc., discussed the evolving requirements for developers as IoT matures and conducted a live demonstration of how quickly application development can happen when the need to comply wit...
Jul. 29, 2015 07:30 AM EDT Reads: 281
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
Jul. 28, 2015 06:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,378
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
Jul. 28, 2015 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,760
Converging digital disruptions is creating a major sea change - Cisco calls this the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the network connection of People, Process, Data and Things, fueled by Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Security, and it represents a $19Trillion value-at-stake over the next 10 years. In her keynote at @ThingsExpo, Manjula Talreja, VP of Cisco Consulting Services, discussed IoE and the enormous opportunities it provides to public and private firms alike. She will share what businesses must do to thrive in the IoE economy, citing examples from several industry sectors.
Jul. 28, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,036
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
Jul. 27, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,023
Akana has released Envision, an enhanced API analytics platform that helps enterprises mine critical insights across their digital eco-systems, understand their customers and partners and offer value-added personalized services. “In today’s digital economy, data-driven insights are proving to be a key differentiator for businesses. Understanding the data that is being tunneled through their APIs and how it can be used to optimize their business and operations is of paramount importance,” said Alistair Farquharson, CTO of Akana.
Jul. 27, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 315
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a "Make or Buy" decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud business applications and services across multiple cloud delivery models.
Jul. 27, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,898
The enterprise market will drive IoT device adoption over the next five years. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Greenough, an analyst at BI Intelligence, division of Business Insider, analyzed how companies will adopt IoT products and the associated cost of adopting those products. John Greenough is the lead analyst covering the Internet of Things for BI Intelligence- Business Insider’s paid research service. Numerous IoT companies have cited his analysis of the IoT. Prior to joining BI Intelligence, he worked analyzing bank technology for Corporate Insight and The Clearing House Payment...
Jul. 26, 2015 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,569
"Optimal Design is a technology integration and product development firm that specializes in connecting devices to the cloud," stated Joe Wascow, Co-Founder & CMO of Optimal Design, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 25, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 383
SYS-CON Events announced today that CommVault has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. A singular vision – a belief in a better way to address current and future data management needs – guides CommVault in the development of Singular Information Management® solutions for high-performance data protection, universal availability and simplified management of data on complex storage networks. CommVault's exclusive single-platform architecture gives companies unp...
Jul. 25, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,952
Electric Cloud and Arynga have announced a product integration partnership that will bring Continuous Delivery solutions to the automotive Internet-of-Things (IoT) market. The joint solution will help automotive manufacturers, OEMs and system integrators adopt DevOps automation and Continuous Delivery practices that reduce software build and release cycle times within the complex and specific parameters of embedded and IoT software systems.
Jul. 25, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 456
"ciqada is a combined platform of hardware modules and server products that lets people take their existing devices or new devices and lets them be accessible over the Internet for their users," noted Geoff Engelstein of ciqada, a division of Mars International, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 25, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,529
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.
Jul. 25, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,484