McGuire Entrepreneurship Program new venture team WorkSphere took home a third-place win at Carnegie Mellon University Venture Challenge on April 2. The undergraduate new venture team, which aims to improve employee accountability, communication and productivity while reducing costs through secure and user-friendly mobile management software, won a $1,000 prize and $1,000 in legal fees.
Five undergraduate students in the McGuire Program, Daniel Dicochea, business management; Dante Egger, business management; Ivan Mendez, MIS; Timothy Wolfe, business economics; and Chaoying Yan, MIS; teamed up this fall to develop WorkSphere. McGuire Program students receive a year of intensive experiential education that engages them in the process of moving innovation from an early-stage idea to a sustainable investor-ready venture.
The Carnegie Mellon University Venture Challenge was open to undergraduate students worldwide. More than 80 teams applied, and 12 finalists were invited to travel to Carnegie Mellon to compete in person. The competition entailed an 8-minute pitch followed by 5 minutes of Q&A with the judges.
“The judges were very supportive and provided really thorough feedback,” said Yan. “We were able to talk with them and ask them questions after the competition. It was great to have time to network with the judges as well as the other teams.”
Sending students to national competitions is part of the McGuire Program's goal to provide experiential educational opportunities. Business plan competitions provide an excellent opportunity for teams to pitch their new venture concepts and compete for cash and in-kind prizes. Although awards are often a draw, the real prize is the chance to hone their skills in a real-world competition and improve their new ventures based on the thoughtful comments provided by judges, business people, investors, and other student teams.
“It was really nice to watch the other teams and see how they presented their ventures,” said Wolfe. “The biggest take away from the other presenters was seeing the different public speaking techniques.”
WorkSphere is one of several McGuire Program new venture teams traveling to competitions this spring. WorkSphere participated in the LeanModel™ Competition at San Diego State University in March, and they will travel to Phoenix Friday for the Arizona Collegiate Venture Competition (ACVC) at Arizona State University, and to Miami for eMERGE April 17-19. Two other McGuire Program teams, Bailiwic and Defiiant Technologies, will also compete at ACVC Friday. (See 2016 Venture Teams and McGuire Program New Venture Teams To Compete Nationally for more information.)
“Winning at Carnegie Mellon helped validate our ideas,” said Wolfe. “It also helped our team dynamics. We’re really excited for the next competition.”