Lovin’ Louisville – VisiRay Places Third
VisiRay is back from a successful trip to Louisville, KY – we won third place in the Brown-Forman Cardinal Challenge MBA business plan competition for which we were awarded $3,000! This was our very first competition outside the University of Oregon and we are very proud.
The six members of the University of Oregon’s team for the competition were VisiRay members – Walther Buecklers, Andrew Cook, Jim St Clair and Orit Ofri – and advisors – Al Cochrane and Randy Swangard.
The night before the competition we met other competition participants at the reception dinner. It was interesting to chat with other MABs and to learn how things are done at other great schools – every program has its own focus and its own way of igniting entrepreneurial thinking.
Early next morning we headed to the semi-final round. The teams were divided into four tracks and the judges – experienced business people from Louisville community – had to select one team from each track to advance to the finals. Thanks to the organizing team, who noticed the time difference between Oregon and Kentucky, we were third in our track. We gave our 15-minutes investors’ pitch presentation followed by a Q&A session.
After the presentation we were concerned. The judges only used 10 minutes out of the 15 minutes allotted to Q&A. Were we not convincing? Did they just find it boring? Did they already make up their mind on one of the other teams before we presented? We couldn’t watch presentations by other teams in our track– so we really in the dark. My pessimistic self decided we were out of the race.
About an hour later they announced the finalists and we were in. Ha!
The judges gave us some great pointers and had encouraging feedback; there have been times in the past where we didn’t get important points across—it takes a lot of fine-tuning—but this time we got it right. We had a quick team meeting to plan for the final round; then we took some time off. We had about two hours before our final round presentation.
The final round took place in a much bigger scene – big screen, big room, big crowd – with the presentations broadcasted live on the competition’s website, it had all the ingredients for an exciting event. And it was exciting indeed. The judges had all sorts of questions for us, drilling deep to get answers. We did okay, though we could have done better. Then we watched the other finalists present – they were impressive. We knew we were not going to win – not necessarily due to our presentation, but mainly because other teams were closer to their target (e.g. with some revenues on initial products).
That night, at the final event the winners were announced. Purdue University’s Medtric Biotech team earned the fourth-place award of $1,500; we were third; the first and second place winners: StAthletes from the University of Western Ontario and Hydraulic Wind Power from Indiana University received $10,000 each, which is unusual – first place was supposed to win $15,000 and second $5,000. The first place team, StAthletes, also won an automatic invitation to compete in Venture Labs over the spring.
During the evening one of the final-round judges invited us to sit with him and with another judge, both very successful entrepreneurs/investors from Louisville, so that they can give us detailed feedback. They had so many ideas and thoughts about our business you’d think it was theirs. We are now working hard and fast to incorporate many of their ideas into our plan.
After that, all that was left to do was to have fun.
For VisiRay, this trip was highly motivating. The judges were excited with our plan, our business, and with our team. Our next competition will be in Carnegie Mellon on March 9th and we are already preparing – twitching our plan and tuning our pitch.
University of Oregon – MBA 2011
Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship