It’s a rite of the spring semester: Universities across the country dribble out small amounts of cash to student-run startups that prevail in entrepreneurship competitions.
A little push can sometimes go a long way. Harvard Business School touts CloudFlare, Birchbox, and Rent the Runway among past competitors in its annual New Ventures competition. Together, the three companies have raised nearly $200 million in venture capital—perhaps dispelling the notion that MBAs don’t get enough credit from Silicon Valley.
As college startup and business plan competitions wind down, here’s how the prize money shakes out among some of our favorite winners and finalists from around the country:
$2,500: To SmartBod, staffed in part by MBAs at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, at the school’s startup contest for its 60-second pitch for a vibrator that learns from a woman’s physiological reactions—although presumably, that takes more than 60 seconds.
$5,000: To Bunkalow, awarded in Villanova University’s student entrepreneurship competition, for marketing “creative storage solutions” to dormitory residents. In plainer language, founders M.K. Hamilton and Scott Gosselin are selling tricked-out curtains to help college students hide their clutter.
$10,000: To Jordan Melcon and Sam Alexander, MBAs at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, for their startup, Latitude six-six. The company wants to send adventurous travelers on trips to native Alaskan villages in the Arctic Circle.
$10,000: To Daniel Fine, an undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, to develop his company, Glass-U, which sells folding sunglasses designed to appeal to members of college fraternities and sororities.
$25,000: To BioBotic Solutions, led by University of Arkansas finance major Michael Iseman, for a plan to automate tissue handling in pathology labs in an undergraduate business plan competition hosted by Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business.
$50,000: To Saathi, a startup co-founded by Harvard Business School MBA candidate Amrita Saigal, a venture that took top honors for social entrepreneurship at HBS’s New Venture Competition. Saigal, a former mechanical engineer at Procter & Gamble (PG), is developing a small-scale manufacturing process to use the bark from banana trees to make low-cost sanitary napkins for women in rural India.
$75,000: To HireCanvas and Scott Holand, an MBA at New York University’s Stern School of Business, in the school’s annual entrepreneurship contest. The startup seeks to make the campus recruiting process less time-consuming for students and employers. That should help spiff up Holand’s résumé, in case the startup doesn’t take off.
$550,000: In cash, grants, and investments for A-76 Technologies from the Rice Business Plan Competition. The company, run by a team of students from Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business, makes lubricants that protect equipment used in the oil and gas industry and other fields.