No April Fools: A Rundown of Babson, BU, Tufts, Harvard, and MIT Business Plan Contests

4/1/11Follow @gthuang

Besides snow and rain (and other April Fool’s jokes), ‘tis the season for business plan competitions around Boston. You might know all about MIT’s $100K contest and Harvard Business School’s equivalent, but there’s a lot more going on out there—and a lot of talented young people vying for a taste of entrepreneurial success.

Here’s a quick sampling of five university-based contests going on around town, and their finalists (certainly not a comprehensive list):

—Tufts University is running its seventh annual $100K business plan competition. The final pitches are happening next week, April 6. Here are the five finalists in the social entrepreneurship bracket: Educate Lanka (student scholarships, Manjula Dissanayake), Give 2App (smartphone apps for nonprofits, Artem Efremkin and Shabazz Stuart), Kabuk (earthquake kits, Mustafa Tuzcu), Saathi (sanitary pads, Nithyaa Venkataramani), and Sanergy (green toilets, Gaurav Tiwari).

And the six finalists in the classic competition: InstaCard (cash in gift cards, Warren Davis), Rentcycle (local business rentals, Kevin Halter and Sean Zinsmeister), Roof For Two (motorcycle accessories, Andrew Altman), RxCap (smart pill containers, Nathan Scott), Salary View (college career services, Kenny Berlin), and Saves on a Plane (airfare deals, Ade Baptista).

—Babson College, which says it founded the first college business plan competition in 1984, is in the midst of its $100K+ undergraduate and graduate business plan competitions. The final round takes place on April 14. Here’s a rundown of the three graduate finalists: Atiken Renewables (agricultural waste to energy), Golden Health Guide (online reviews of home medical products), and SkyCrepers (fast-serve crepe franchise).

And the three undergrad finalists: Down to Earth Waste Solutions (small-business waste collection and composting), Nodes (online collaboration and group social networking), and Redeemr (business intelligence and customer retention for small to businesses).

—Boston University’s $50K “new venture competition” is down to its final four, just like March Madness. The BU finals are next week, April 6. Here are the four finalists: ACCEasy (accounting software for Russian businesses, Katsiaryna Akhlopkava), Handlebikes (better bicycles, Fredrik Fjellsaa), Nyumba (pneumonia diagnostics by cellphone, Andrea Fernandes), and RayVio (efficient ultraviolet LEDs, Yitao Liao).

—The MIT Entrepreneurship Competition’s $100K business plan contest is well underway. The semi-finalist teams (five teams in five tracks, plus wild cards) are currently in their mentorship program hurtling towards the finish line on May 11. You can see a full list of the semi-finalists, which were announced in early March, here. A few that caught my eye, mostly because they have interesting names: SaferTaxi (mobile track; cab rating and registration system), iHelmet (products and services; no idea what they do), Boss (life sciences; bone graft tool), Waste to Watts (emerging markets; sounds self-explanatory for power generation), and All Cows Eat Grass (music lessons) and VisualizeMe (social graph), both in the Web/IT track.

—Lastly, Harvard Business School’s business plan contest is just getting started. Business plan entries are due next week, April 7; there’s a “business venture” track and a “social venture” track. The whole competition is done by the evening of April 26.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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