26 Apr 2011

Harvard Business School Holds Second Alumni New Venture Contest

Northern California Entrant BioMine Wins Global Competition

BOSTON—Teams led by entrepreneurial Harvard Business School alumni representing twelve U.S and international regions presented business plans for their start-ups to judges on Monday during the final round of the School's second annual Alumni New Venture Contest.

BioMine,, the entrant from Northern California, represented by Privahini Bradoo (MBA 2008), co-founder and CEO, took top honors against teams representing HBS Alumni Clubs in Boston, Brazil, Chicago, Germany, India, New York/Washington, D.C., Southern California/San Diego, Shanghai, South Africa, Toronto, and United Arab Emirates. Other semi-finalists were PhytoTEK (New York/Washington, D.C.) and CardSwap (Toronto).

(LtoR) Privahini Bradoo and Paolo Pacorini of BioMine Photo: Neal Hamberg

BioMine uses existing scaled-up mining industry technologies to capture value from the 40 million tons of "e–waste" that is landfilled or incinerated annually around the world. Each year, electronics containing $70 billion worth of metals and rare earths are discarded.

Modeled after the HBS student Business Plan Contest, now in its 15th year, the Alumni New Venture Contest was designed to support promising new ventures founded by HBS graduates. As the winning entry, BioMine 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. Cooley LLP of Boston provided legal services for the competition.

"We launched 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 over 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 90 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 the competition," she added.

Click here to watch interviews with the regional finalists.

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

  • Boston
    AI Exchange (Marco Bitran, MBA 2003, founder and CEO) is a technology financial-services company whose mission is to reinvent hedge-fund investing through disruptive technology, transparency, and liquidity.
  • Brazil
    Dr. Consulta (Thomaz Srougi, GMP 6, 2009, CEO) delivers fast, reliable, affordable medical appointments to uninsured, underserved low-income families in the poorest parts of Brazil's largest cities.
  • Chicago
    vinsnap (Mark Hoecker, MBA 2008, co-founder) is a mobile automotive marketing company whose application organizes car searches for customers using smartphones by decoding information from VIN numbers collected by mobile car shoppers.
  • Germany
    Superdome (David Merle, Alexander Azoulay, both MBA 2003, co-founders) offers the first Building Integrated Photovoltaics, enabling electrical interconnection and assembly with other tiles via "plug & play" connectors.
  • India
    Crossover Energy (Vikram Sharma, MBA 2006, founder and CEO) is an energy-service company that helps organizations lower their energy costs and embrace sustainability by reducing their carbon footprint.
  • New York/Washington, D.C.
    PhytoTEK (Sahil Patel, MBA 2005, CFO) supplies a unique biologic solution for the rapidly growing $3 billion global infection-control market.
  • Southern California/San Diego
    WikiPay (Ali Fakhari, MBA 2007, chief marketing officer) is a proprietary mobile and online commerce platform that facilitates money transfer, payment applications, and mobile marketing via SMS.
  • Shanghai
    AVA (Oliver Segovia, Jennifer Kelly, both MBA 2010, co-founders) is an invitation-only shopping platform that addresses the gap between the growing market demand for fashion and the lack of availability of branded merchandise and e-commerce websites in the Philippines.
  • South Africa
    LifeQube (Angus Rowe, OPM 38, 2009, CEO) is a mobile clinic management system whose MobiQube technology creates and manages electronic health records via mobile phone.
  • Toronto
    CardSwap (Zaheed Poptia, MBA 2006, co-founder and CEO) is an exclusively Canadian service that helps savvy consumers save money on gift cards and provides a secure environment to exchange unwanted gift cards into cash.
  • United Arab Emirates
    Spendwisor (Rohit Dev Thakwani, OPM 37, 2008, founder and CEO) is an online service that enables consumer electronics purchasers to explore, browse, and compare categories and products and to make informed buying decisions.

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.