Louisiana Tech entrepreneurs selected to compete in elite business plan competition
A team of entrepreneurs from Louisiana Tech University has been selected as one of 42 teams from around the world to compete in the prestigious Rice University Business Plan Competition, April 14-16 in Houston, Texas. “ShuaTech Chemical Systems,” comprised of Josh Brown, a Tech graduate in nanosystems engineering, and business graduate students Obi Obilo and Caitlin McAlpin, will represent Louisiana Tech and compete for over $1 million in cash and prizes. ShuaTech is the only team from the State of Louisiana selected to participate in this year’s competition. “This is a huge step for ShuaTech because of the RBPC’s reputation, networking opportunities, and of course, the possibility for some substantial prizes,” said Brown. “I believe this is also significant for Louisiana Tech and its reputation for technology commercialization and entrepreneurship, and I certainly hope ShuaTech represents the school well.” The Rice University Business Plan Competition is the world’s largest and richest graduate-level business plan competition and is considered the “Super Bowl” for student entrepreneurs. The 2011 field includes teams from Michigan, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Georgia Tech, BYU, Carnegie Mellon, Rice and several others from outside the United States including Cambridge University, Oxford, and the London School of Business. “Since introducing the ShuaTech business concept in 2007, Josh Brown has continued refining the business plan, recruiting team members, seeking guidance from industry professionals, and pursuing his dream of commercializing the technology that he helped develop at Louisiana Tech,” said Kathy Wyatt, director of the Technology Business Development Center at Louisiana Tech. “The Technology Business Development Center is excited to be a part of this effort. It is gratifying to see external organizations recognize and reward the tremendous economic potential that exists within the Tech student population, alumni, and research faculty.” ShuaTech is the first team from Louisiana Tech to participate in this elite competition. They were selected from a pool of over 500 applicants representing institutions all over the world. Ninety-seven past competitors have gone on to successfully launch their businesses and are still in business today, raising in excess of $223 million in funding. Teams will compete in categories such as Clean Technology, Life Science/Biotech/Medical Devices, Energy (oil and gas, other traditional fuels), Sustainability, Information Technology/Web/Internet, Space Technologies/Aerospace, Consumer Goods and Products, Social Entrepreneurship, Nanotechnologies, and Advanced Materials/Other Technologies. “It is a huge honor for the Louisiana Tech team to compete,” said Debbie Inman, coordinator of entrepreneurial studies at Tech. “But more than that, it speaks to the dedication of Josh Brown and the ShuaTech team, and individuals working within our entrepreneurship programs and classes.” Brown competed in and won Louisiana Tech’s TOP DAWG Business Plan Competition in 2007. The TOP DAWG focuses on helping students recognize and evaluate great ideas and then build business plans or new venture investment decks around their ideas. According to their website, the Rice University Business Plan Competition is designed to give collegiate entrepreneurs a real-world experience to fine tune their business plans and elevator pitches to be able to generate funding to successfully commercialize their product. Judges evaluate the teams as real-world entrepreneurs soliciting start-up funds from early-stage investors and venture capital firms. Venture capitalists and other investors from around the country volunteer their time to judge the competition, with the majority of the over 250 judges coming from the investment sector. More than 100 corporate and private sponsors provide support for the annual three-day competition.