28 Apr 2010

Harvard Business School Holds First Alumni New Venture Contest

India-based Sundaram Medical Devices wins global competition

BOSTON— Teams led by entrepreneurial Harvard Business School alumni representing seven domestic and international regions presented business plans for their start-ups to judges on Monday during the final round of the School’s first Alumni New Venture Contest. Representing the HBS Club of India, Krishna Mahesh (MBA 2005), founder and CEO of Sundaram Medical Devices, took top honors against teams representing HBS Alumni Clubs in Boston, Chicago, London, New York, Northern California, and Southern California. The result was announced on Tuesday night at the finals and awards ceremony for the HBS student Business Plan Contest.

According to Mahesh, Sundaram Medical Devices, based in the city of Chennai in southern India, is using “the engineering rigor, high standards, and cost control of the Indian automotive industry to develop a high-tech, low-cost medical bed that meets the highest standards of quality, safety, and usability both for the patient and the care-giver in Indian healthcare institutions. With a population of a billion people and a shortage in excess of 3 million beds, the market for locally manufactured medical beds is dramatically underserved.”

(LtoR): Professor William A. Sahlman, Krishna
Mahesh (MBA ’05), Michael Roberts, Executive Director
of the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship

Modeled after the HBS student Business Plan Contest, now in its 14th year, the Alumni New Venture Contest was designed to support promising new ventures founded by HBS graduates. As the winning entry, Sundaram was awarded a $25,000 cash prize. In addition, every finalist team received mentoring from an HBS faculty member prior to the judging and participated in an on-campus educational session during the finals. The finals of the contest were judged by a panel of HBS faculty members and alumni from fields such as venture capital, consulting, law, accounting, life sciences, and technology.

“We conceptualized the Alumni New Venture Contest with two goals in mind," said Lynda M. Applegate, the School’s Martin Marshall Professor of Business Administration and chair of the Entrepreneurial Management Unit, which is composed of more than 30 faculty members. "First, we wanted to identify promising new business ventures among our very entrepreneurially-oriented alumni body; second, and perhaps more important, we were eager to create a formal mechanism to connect alumni who are starting new companies with faculty expertise and the global HBS network of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and angel investors.”

“I have been impressed by the turnout of more than 70 teams, the care and diligence that the HBS Clubs brought to planning the regional contests, and the passion and quality of ideas that all the participants brought to this initial competition,” she added.

The regional finalists were chosen in March during contests held at seven HBS Alumni Clubs around the world. In addition to Sundaram Medical Devices, the regional finalists, representing a wide variety of new enterprises from biobanks to microgames, were as follows:

  • Boston
    iSpecimen (Mike Pierce, MBA 2001, interim COO) is building a network that connects clinical laboratories and hospital electronic medical record systems at leading institutions, providing researchers a platform where they can search for desired specimens in real time.
  • Chicago
    Cinekin (Constance Freedman, MBA 2006, chief strategy officer) uses people’s film preferences as a way to predict their compatibility as couples.
  • London
    Qtara (Steve Berry, MBA 1979, chairman) is a London-based company that will build next-generation intelligent virtual assistants (sometimes known as avatars) for use by both organizations and individuals.
  • New York
    TwoChop (Mo Lam, MBA 2005, founder) is a microgaming platform that pushes “quick- engagement” games to users throughout the day.

  • Northern California
    Redbeacon (Ethan Anderson, MBA 2003, CEO) is a Web site to help consumers find the appropirate business or person to handle any local service need.
  • Southern California
    Kiwilimón (Deborah Dana Beyda, MBA 2008, cofounder) is a food and recipe internet portal for Spanish-speaking users.

Ten to fifteen years after graduation, more than 50 percent of HBS alumni classify themselves as entrepreneurs. Among the many alumni who have founded successful business ventures are Tom Stemberg (MBA 1973), founder of Staples; Scott Cook (MBA 1976), chairman and cofounder of Intuit; Michael Bloomberg (MBA 1963), founder of Bloomberg L.P.; Marla Malcolm Beck (MBA 1998), founder of Blue Mercury; Jeff Bussgang (MBA 1995), cofounder of UPromise; and Jeremy Stoppelman (MBA 2005), CEO and cofounder of Yelp.

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching, to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.