Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

So fresh and so green

evergreens
Ryan Suddendorf, Hunter Brooks, Todd Fishman

Evergreens Salads has a sense of humor. Each item on the menu has a name that will make you laugh out loud (or at least smirk). One might order, for example, the “Pear-ly Legal” (Asian pears, caramelized onions, walnuts and gorgonzola cheese over romaine and baby spinach), “Dice-Dice Baby” (romaine, roasted turkey, salami, garbanzo beans, basil, cherry tomatoes, jack cheese), or “The Cobbsby Show” (a new take on a traditional Cobb). Evergreens t-shirts carry slogans like “kale me maybe” or “biggest bowls in town.”   This new “salad experience” located in the heart of downtown Seattle is all about fun, but don’t let the antics fool you.  Founders Todd Fishman and Hunter Brooks mean business, and they’ve done their due diligence to make sure this salad start-up succeeds.

After graduating from the UW, Fishman and Brooks both headed east to experience life in corporate Manhattan. It was there that the childhood friends reconnected, bonding over their shared history and love of salad bars. Yes, salad bars. Seems odd at first, but we’re not talking Old Country Buffet here. The East Coast boasts gourmet salad restaurants so popular there are lines around the block.  It was while waiting in one of these lines, remembers Brooks, that the guys said to each other, “This would be killer in Seattle.”

An idea was born and the time was right. “We’re both really entrepreneurial,” says Brooks.  “We’d both been in New York for a few years. We were both ready to move on from our corporate roles and head back home.” So the two friends got down to work – fast. “We spit-balled the idea last August [2012],” Brooks recalls, “quit our jobs in September, moved home in November, signed a lease in May, and now we’re having our soft open on Friday.” (That’s Friday, August 16, just a year from when their initial concept, for anyone who’s counting.)

Fishman, who’d competed in the UW Business Plan Competition in 2009 with Nanocel, took on the task of writing the business plan.  By the time Brooks and Fishman moved west in November and teamed up with restaurant manager Ryan Suddendorf, (another UW alum), they had an impressive business plan and were ready to pitch to investors. “We raised money in about three months,” says Fishman.

One of Evergreens’ major investors is Kurt Dammeier of Sugar Mountain Capital, Seattle’s Pasta & Company, Beecher’s Cheese, and other successful restaurant ventures. “He has opened a lot of doors for us,” says Fishman. “He believes in our concept, and thanks to him, we’re getting better pricing, and real estate opportunities we wouldn’t otherwise have had.” Dammeier has been a great resource for the Evergreens team, but he’s not the only one. “I’d gone through several coaching rounds in the Business Plan Competition,” recalls Fishman, “and seen how much you can gain from mentors and advisors.” So Fishman and Brooks met with as many mentors as they could – 225 to be exact. “We’ve reached out to people, asked questions, and surrounded ourselves with people who are smart and successful,” says Brooks.

They’ve put that advice to use, making sure they have a strong business from the very beginning. “Lots of early-stage entrepreneurs don’t know how to come up with a model, stay on budget, and watch every dollar,” says Fishman. “The restaurant business is expensive, and has a high failure rate. You have to know what you’re doing.”

In the end, Evergreens Salads aims to be a restaurant people will want to come back to. “We’re catering to people who work in downtown Seattle.  They sit at a desk all day and they take maybe 30 minutes for lunch, and that’s sacred time,” says Brooks.  “The big takeaway,” says Fishman, “is that Evergreens is a great place for people to get a delicious, healthy meal, and have fun while they’re at it.”

7 teams accepted to the 2013 Jones Milestones / Foster Accelerator

PolyDrop
Olga Hrechka and Heather Milligan, PolyDrop

For the past three years, the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship’s Jones Milestones / Foster Accelerator has helped student-led start-ups transition from idea to reality with milestone-based frameworks, coaching from Seattle’s top entrepreneurs and investors, and up to $25,000 in follow-on funding.

You’ve probably seen some Accelerator alumni in the news: Strideline, Stockbox Grocers, Cadence Biomedical, PatientStream, Microryza, JoeyBra, to name a few.

2013 marks the Accelerator’s fourth year, and it’s shaping up to be a good one. After a competitive application process, seven teams were accepted into the 2013 Accelerator. Over the next six months these teams will take advantage of mentoring and resources to develop their technologies, get their product to market, raise early-stage funding, and move a few steps closer to what we know they can become. We’re looking forward to adding them to our list of success stories!

2013 Jones Milestone/Foster Accelerator Teams:

LuckySteps
LuckySteps is a mobile game app that rewards corporate employees for exercising more and improves their employer’s bottom line.

PolyDrop, LLC
Grand Prize Winner, UW Environmental Innovation Challenge 2013
Finalist Prize, UW Business Plan Competition 2013

PolyDrop has created a conductive polymer additive for paints, primers and coatings that is lighter, more affordable, longer lasting, and has better adhesion than other products on the market.

Project Wedge
Project Wedge is a plug-in-and-play projector for tablet devices, smart phones, and other electronic devices that have HDMI video-out capabilities.

Pure Blue Technologies
Grand Prize Winner, UW Business Plan Competition 2013
Second Place Prize, UW Environmental Innovation Challenge 2013

Pure Blue Technologies innovates low-cost, efficient, and environmentally friendly water treatment solutions for the oil & gas industry.

StudentRND
StudentRND creates the next generation of technologists by inspiring students to work on tech projects in their spare time.

Torch Illumination
Torch Illumination is a soy candle company on a mission to produce eco-friendly candles that support social and environmental causes.

Z Girls
Second Place Prize, UW Business Plan Competition 2013
Z Girls measurably improves girls’ participation rates in sports by teaching young female athletes mental & emotional skills through coaching & camps.

 

Coffee, a start-up and Saudi Arabia

Yatooq Coffee MakerCoffee and start-ups might seem more Seattle than Saudi Arabia, but not to Lateefa Alwaalan (TMMBA 2011). Yatooq, founded by Alwaalan, makes it easier and faster to brew Arabic coffee, a blonde, spicy coffee central to all social gatherings in places like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Alwaalan came to Seattle to get her MBA after studying computer science, and working in IT and then banking in her home country of Saudi Arabia. While in the Technology Management MBA Program, she focused intently on gaining business and entrepreneurial skills. She competed in the Business Plan Competition with her idea for Yatooq. She also enrolled in the Entrepreneurship Certificate, offered by the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at Foster. She said her experience at the Foster School, “Transformed me. I use everything I learned—from change management to supply-chain management to marketing.”

Upon returning home after graduation, her father offered her a job in his pharmaceutical company. Her first job was entering invoices, but that didn’t last long. She quickly moved up the ranks and became the general manager in less than two years.

In addition to working at the pharmaceutical company, Alwaalan has been working hard to launch Yatooq. The company started by selling ready-made blends of coffee, and had good results. The most successful aspect of the company, however, has been the introduction of its coffee machine. When made traditionally, Arabic coffee takes 20-30 minutes to prepare and requires over ten steps. Yatooq’s coffee machine dramatically reduces the time and effort required to make Arabic coffee. Within two weeks of launching the coffee machine in grocery stores and online, it sold out.

The start-up process hasn’t been easy—Alwaalan had to learn everything about how to manufacture and sell a consumer product. The hard work has paid off though. Yatooq currently has seven employees and needs more to keep up with demand. Alwaalan is also in the process of restructuring the pharmaceutical business so she can devote more time to Yatooq. Learn more about Yatooq.

Authentic ramen receives rave reviews

Guest post by Christopher Comley, CISB French Track student

Kukai Owners, Brandon Ting and Nuri Aydinel The first time Foster School alumni Brandon Ting (BA 2009) and Nuri Aydinel (BA 2009) met in class, they didn’t even talk. However, both joined the U.S. track of the Certificate of International Studies in Business program (CISB), and from there began the conversations that would lead to close friendship and a thriving business.

Along with Jessmin Lau, (UW BA 2010), the two are owners of Kukai Ramen and Izakaya, a Japanese noodle restaurant that opened in Bellevue in December and has already garnered widespread praise.  Seattle Magazine recently featured the restaurant in its “Best Restaurants” issue.

“We enjoy when our customers tell us dining in Kukai is the best ramen experience they have had,” Ting said.

It is the first U.S. location of the Kukai Ramen franchise, which has several other locations in Japan.

The restaurant is on a mission to provide “really good ramen to Americans,” Ting said.

The owners first became interested in ramen when they saw how popular it was becoming around the world.

“People are getting to know ramen and are becoming huge fans of it. We saw that the ramen fans in Seattle (and most of the U.S.) don’t get to enjoy a bowl of authentic ramen,” Ting said.

Facing such a culinary deficiency, the owners began preparations to satisfy the ramen needs of the Seattle area. They traveled to Japan several times, searching for the perfect ramen to bring back, and eventually came across Kukai. Media publications claimed customers who didn’t normally like ramen liked the ramen from Kukai.

“That got us curious so we went to try it,” Ting said.

The owners discovered Kukai had a special cooking method for the ramen, which made it more palatable to the Japanese market and potentially the American one as well. After deciding which ramen to use, the owners began preparations to open a franchise in the U.S., a process which took two years. In reaching its goal to provide authentic ramen to the American market, the owners needed authentic ingredients, but they encountered several FDA obstacles. Under FDA regulations, all ingredients have to be from a certified manufacturer. Originally, Kukai’s ingredients were not FDA approved, but the owners decided the authenticity was worth the price.

“We actually got the manufacturer certified under U.S. standards in order to import the ingredients,” Ting said.

Ting attributes the success of the restaurant to the lengthy planning process.

“We had several changes to our plan, which involved a lot of analyzing and calculating. The long and thorough planning and preparation process was the real key to our ‘rapid’ success,” Ting said.

With plans to open up 30 to 50 more Kukai restaurants across the country, Seattleites won’t be the only ones enjoying warm bowls of authentic ramen.

Learn more about the Certificate of International Studies in Business Program.

Collaborating for increased opportunities: A new BEDC partnership to further develop minority-owned businesses nationwide

Michael Verchot, Director of the UW BEDC (left), stands with NMSDC President Joset B. Wright (center) and Shelley Stewart, Jr., the Vice Chairman of the NMSDC Board of Directors.
Michael Verchot, Director of the UW BEDC (left), stands with NMSDC President Joset B. Wright (center) and Shelley Stewart, Jr., the Vice Chairman of the NMSDC Board of Directors.

The National Minority Supplier Development Council, Inc.® (NMSDC®) and the University of Washington’s Business and Economic Development Center (UW-BEDC) announced a partnership agreement to further the development of minority-owned businesses across the US on May 22nd at the NMSDC’s annual Minority Business Leadership Awards Dinner Dance in New York City.

This partnership joins together the nation’s premier organization committed to the growth and development of Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American-owned companies with the nation’s most comprehensive business school center dedicated to the growth of minority-owned firms and businesses in low- and moderate-income communities.

“This agreement will provide minority business enterprises a new opportunity at one of the country’s leading institutions that supports minority business development,” said NMSDC President Joset B. Wright. “It will allow us to enhance MBEs’ ability to meet the needs of their customers. We are delighted with our new relationship, and we look forward to many years of success for NMSDC, for the University of Washington, but most importantly, for our certified MBEs.”

Jim Jiambalvo, Dean of the UW Foster School of Business, expressed similar excitement about this partnership. “We recognize the NMSDC’s pioneering role in growing minority-owned firms across the US. The work of the council and its member corporations has done more to create opportunities for business growth and wealth creation in communities of color than just about any organization in the last 40 years. We’re proud to be partnering with them so that collectively we can do more than either of us could do independently.”

The partners will begin their collaboration by growing the Foster School’s six-year-old Minority Business Executive Program. This Program has a track record of success in growing minority-owned businesses from across the U.S. JBE Enterprises, an NMSDC-certified firm based in South Carolina, participated in the 2012 Minority Business Executive Program. Richard Ellison, the company’s Vice President and a graduate of the Program attributes its ability to cross the $40 million revenue threshold in part to what firm representatives learned in this Program.

NMSDC and the Foster School will launch a pilot program in June. NMSDC corporate members will select a few MBEs to participate in the program. Ms. Wright will be the commencement speaker at the University’s 2013 graduation ceremony on June 21 in Seattle.

The National Minority Supplier Development Council advances business opportunities for certified Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American business enterprises and connects them to corporate members.  One of the country’s leading corporate membership organizations, NMSDC was chartered in 1972 to provide increased procurement and business opportunities for minority businesses of all sizes. The NMSDC Network includes a National Office in New York and 36 Regional Councils across the country. There are 3,500 corporate members throughout the network, including most of America’s largest publicly-owned, privately-owned and foreign-owned NMSDC companies, as well as universities, hospitals and other buying institutions. The Regional Councils certify and match more than 16,000 minority-owned businesses with member corporations that want to purchase their products and services.

BPC bonanza

Guest post by Claire Koerner, co-founder of nomON and Foster School class of 2014
nomON is a randomized food delivery app. Claire and the rest of the nomON team competed in the 2013 UW Business Plan Competition and made it into the Sweet 16 round. In this guest post, Claire reflects on the BPC experience and lessons learned.

nomON for blog postnomON’s Business Plan Competition (BPC) journey drew to a close on May 23 at the Awards Dinner amid friends, mentors, and fans. After two months of hard work, we were all very eager to reach the culmination of the event, and be able to look back at all we have learned along the way. At the beginning of the BPC, we had a 7 page executive summary that was absolutely gorgeous (thanks to Tarryn!) but with some major holes. Our financials were complete estimates, we had yet to sort out credit card processing, and much of our plan was built upon assumptions. After advancing to the investment round, we had the chance to perfect our 2 minute pitches for judges, create nomON swag, and start raising hype about the brand. But it was when we advanced to the Sweet 16 (yay!!) that the learning really began: we met with multiple coaches and mentors – thank you Sanjay Kumar, Craig Sherman, Emer Dooley, Charles Seybold and several others along the way- who helped us find and fill the holes in our business. nomON went from being a quirky mobile app cobbled together at Startup Weekend to a real business with well thought out financial projections (you should see the spreadsheets), a solid partnership with ordr.in, and an entirely new user interface. What a roller coaster! Although we didn’t advance to the Final Four, nomON is now armed with a full 15 page business plan, an investor slide deck, and most of all, important insights and truths about our business. Thank you to the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship and everyone who helped us during this process. We are excited to move forward with the business, continue learning and improving, and most of all…bring nomON to you soon!

Top 5 things we learned:

  1. Businesses are hard- the to do list keeps growing, no matter how many things you check off
  2. Pitch to everyone- you never know who is going to have a random genius insight
  3. All it takes to keep a designer happy is free-flowing white chocolate mochas with extra whip
  4. Practice makes perfect
  5. Businesses are fun- the deeper you go, the more you learn, and the more you love your team :)

The nomON team:
Claire Koerner – Business Administration (Marketing)
Stephanie Halamek – BA (Finance)
Tarryn Marcus – BA (Entrepreneurship)
Evan Cohen – Informatics
William Voit – Electrical Engineering

$68,220 awarded to UW Business Plan Competition winners

PureBlue Grand Prize
Grand Prize winner Pure Blue Technologies with Michael Bauer, president of the Herbert B. Jones Foundation

May 23, 2013 – Seattle’s Bell Harbor buzzed with energy as a record $68,220 in seed funding was awarded to winners of the 2013 UW Business Plan Competition.

Over 250 Judges, coaches, and team members gathered at the 16th annual Business Plan Competition Awards Dinner. After a celebration of Artie and Sue Buerk’s $5.2 million naming gift for the Center, Kabir Shahani, CEO of Appature, gave a funny and heartfelt keynote speech, offering these words of wisdom: “Entrepreneurship is a platform for your life, and that platform lets you do anything you want to do. If you want to change the world, you can do it. The only question is ‘how many times over?’”

Shahani’s words were taken to heart, especially by the winning teams, who will be using their seed funding to move their business a few steps closer to reality.

The UW Business Plan Competition is produced by the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the Foster School of Business.

 Winners

$25,000 Grand Prize – Pure Blue Technologies (UW)
Fossil fuel production generates 882 billion gallons of contaminated “produced water” per year in the US alone. On average, for every barrel of oil extracted in the US, 8 barrels of contaminated water are extracted to the surface. Pure Blue Technologies has developed a contaminated water treatment system that uses visible light photo disinfection technology to produce disinfected water for beneficial reuse.
Pure Blue Technologies won second place at this year’s UW Environmental Innovation Challenge.

Team:Jaffer Alali, MS Environmental Engineering; Adam Greenberg, BA Finance and Entrepreneurship;  Michael Lee, MS Mechanical Engineering; Alan Luo, PhD Physics; Sep Makhous, PhD Electrical Engineering; Ryan Vogel, BA Finance and Entrepreneurship; Ian Tan, BA Finance; Nicholas Wang, BA Chemical Engineering

 

Z Girls Second Place
Z Girls

$13,220 Second Place Prize – Z Girls (UW)
Studies show that adolescent girls who participate in sports  are more self-confident, get better grades, are less likely to engage in at-risk behaviors, and are more likely to go to college. Unfortunately, by age 14, girls drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys. Z Girls has developed a sports-based curriculum that gives girls ages 11-14 the opportunity to develop skills like goal-setting, positive self-image, and healthy nutrition habits through team programs and summer camps.

Final Round Judge Steve Singh, CEO of Concur, remarked, “Z Girls is an inspiring business lead by some amazing founders that could be doing anything in life. Incredible.”

 

Team:  Libby Ludlow, JD and Technology Entrepreneurship Certificate; Jacob Dudek; Jilyne Higgins

 

PolyDrop Finalist Prize
PolyDrop with Craig Sherman of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

$5,000 Finalist Prize – Poly Drop (UW)
Conductive coating is used to move electrostatic charge across a surface (like the surface of an aircraft), so that it does not accumulate and interfere with electronic equipment or cause sparks that can lead to fire. PolyDrop has created a conductive polymer additive for paints, primers and coatings that is lighter, more affordable, longer lasting, and has better adhesion than other products on the market.

Team: Michele Chaffee, MBA; Olga Hrechka, BS Chemical Engineering; Heather Milligan, BS Chemical Engineering

 

NIA Wheel Finalist Prize
NIA Wheel with Jesse Proudman, CEO of Blue Box

$5,000 Finalist Prize – NIA Wheel (SPU)
NIA Wheel found that 5,596,000 people in the US are paralyzed. 360,000 of those are quadriplegic – confined to a wheelchair with very limited control over their mobility. The NIA (Neurological Impulse Actuator) wheelchair is activated and controlled by the brain function of the user, eliminating the disconnect between mental capability and physical disability of quadriplegics and others who have lost mobility.

Team: Sergey Kisel, BS Electrical Engineering; Clarence Rieu, BS Electrical Engineering; Aryn Schatz, BA Business Administration; Jessica Way, BA Economics

 

Best Idea Prizes

$2,500 Best Technology Idea – PolyDrop (UW)
PolyDrop offers conductive polymer additives for paints, primers and coatings with a significantly lower level of particle loading. Integration of PolyDrop into current production lines of existing formulations is simple and dramatically improves usage lifetime, adhesion and mechanical properties of your product. Team: Michele Chaffee, MBA; Olga Hrechka, BS Chemical Engineering; Heather Milligan, BS Chemical Engineering

$2,500 Best Service/Retail Idea – Z Girls (UW)
Z Girlsmeasurably improves girls’ participation rates in sports by teaching young female athletes skills like positive self-talk, goal-setting, and body image through coaching and camps. Team: Libby Ludlow, JD Law; Jacob Dudek; Jilyne Higgins

$2,500 Best Sustainable Advantage – Pure Blue Technologies (UW)
Pure Blue Technologiesis developing a novel industrial water treatment solution that’s more efficient at a lower cost. Team: Jaffer Alali, MS Environmental Engineering; Adam Greenberg, BA Finance and Entrepreneurship; Michael Lee, MS Mechanical Engineering; Alan Luo, PhD Physics; Sep Makhous, PhD Electrical Engineering; Ryan Vogel, BA Finance and Entrepreneurship; Ian Tan, BA Finance; Nicholas Wang, BA Chemical Engineering

$2,500 Best Innovation Idea – InsuLenz (UW)
InsuLenz is developing a “smart” polymer contact lens to provide a bio-responsive and needle-free insulin delivery platform for diabetics. Team: Nick Au, PhD Medicinal Chemistry; Karen Eaton, PhD Bioengineering; Caleb Gerig, MBA; Craig McNary, MBA; Mohammed Minhaj, MBA; Renuka Ramanathan, PhD Bioengineering

$2,500 Best Consumer Product Idea – iHome3D (UW)
iHome3Dis a mobile app that allows realtors to create a virtual tour and floor plan of a property, in minutes. Team: Nelson Haung, MBA; Aditya Sankar, PhD Computer Science/Engineering

$2,500 Best Cleantech Idea – Biomethane (BGI/WWU/UW)
Biomethanecreates greenhouse-gas-negative vehicle fuel from dairy waste. Team: Jessica Anundson, MBA; Branden Audet, MA Policy Studies; Kathlyn Kinney, MBA; Colby Ochsner, MBA

$5,000 AARP Prize for low-income senior service – NIA Wheel (SPU)
NIA Wheelproduces and sells a brain wave controlled power wheelchair.Team: Sergey Kisel, BS Electrical Engineering; Clarence Rieu, BS Electrical Engineering; Aryn Schatz, BA Business; Jessica Way, BA Economics

Global change marketplace: how the GSEC Trade Show brings the world to UW

trade showOver its nine year history, the Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC) at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business has brought awareness of pressing global issues to thousands of people – student competitors; competition mentors, judges and coaches; university partners; student volunteers; friends, family and supporters. So far, the competition has engaged over 2000 students of diverse educational disciplines and levels from around the world in tackling complex global social problems with entrepreneurial spirit and innovative market-based solutions.

At the competition’s culmination, semi-finalist university student teams (30-60 students per year) from around the world travel to Seattle for a week to learn about social enterprise, receive professional guidance and connections, network with each other and compete for prizes.

GSEC’s cross-cultural exchange is highlighted at the Trade Show, where semi-finalist teams each give their “pitch” to sell their business ideas to Trade Show judges, who act as mock investors, as well as students and community members. They often have prototypes, photos, videos and stories to illustrate the challenges they are facing and the inspirational impacts of their solutions. As a result, these issues become real, even for those who have never experienced them firsthand. Judge Loretta Little explains: “I have always felt and try to teach my kids that we’re citizens of the world. You need to put yourself in other people’s shoes. What better way than to meet people from around the world who are willing to come forward and share problems with you and what they think might be solutions to those problems.”

Teams often use prize money and connections made during GSEC to help launch their business, which can create employment and have other positive social impacts back home. Archived and streaming video of competition events, media coverage locally and in the student competitors’ universities and communities, and even the competitors own blogs and social media extends the education still further – allowing even those who cannot take part in the competition to feel inspired by the innovations being proposed to some of the world’s most pressing problems. Trade Show judge David Parker summed up why he volunteers each year: “The new ideas that are emerging every year from young people – it’s just astounding – they’re already creating patents, engaging with partners for manufacturing new devices, they’ve been able to engage with experts in the geographies of high need that they hope to get their solutions to – I just love seeing that passion, energy and creativity and innovation emerge and I continue to be impressed year after year with the applicants, the competitors and their ideas.”

GSEC is open to currently enrolled degree-seeking students in any discipline, at any level of study, and at any higher education institution worldwide who submits a plan that uses business principles to create a sustainable solution to poverty, health and economic growth in the developing world. Applications for the 10th annual competition are due November 12, 2014. Learn more at http://www.foster.washington.edu/gsec/

Global entrepreneurship: rewards & challenges

Guest post by Maria Reyes, CISB student Saito 1

As a graduating senior I am often asked what the highlight of my business school career was. The response? The people I’ve met through the Michael G. Foster School of Business.

One of the most inspiring individuals I’ve met is William Saito. Internationally, he’s renowned for his work in encryption, authentication, and biometric technology. Today, he runs InTecur, a consultancy in Japan that helps companies identify and develop applications and markets for innovative technologies.

On May 9th, he came to the Foster School of Business to deliver a talk titled “Global Entrepreneurship: Rewards & Challenges.” I came expecting to learn just about starting a business, but Mr. Saito delivered that and beyond. He shared challenges in penetrating Japanese markets using American venture strategies and was humble in sharing what worked and what didn’t work, how he learned from his mistakes, and the importance of giving back once you are successful.

What I personally received from his talk is the drive to become an innovator during my internship in Tokyo, Japan. For those who are unfamiliar with the Japanese business culture, it is very uniform and male dominated, which is a challenging environment for a woman let alone a foreigner like me. Prior to meeting Mr. Saito, I felt pressured to conform to the Japanese norms. When I expressed my concerns about Japanese business culture to him one-on-one, he challenged me to break my own preconceived notions and be innovative by utilizing my unique background to help grow the company rather than work under it. I will never forget his words and will continue to think of them after graduation. I hope to one day inspire others to be innovative like Mr. Saito does.

The “Sweet 16″ compete for a sweet $25,000

ZGirls_for_blog
Z Girls

Of the 91 student-led teams that submitted business plans to the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship‘s 2013  Business Plan Competition (BPC), only 16 remain.

After an initial screening round, 36 teams were chosen to pitch their start-up ideas to over 230 judges (entrepreneurs, investors, alumni and community supporters) at the BPC Investment Round. The teams that received the highest investments of “Buerk Center Dollars” earned a spot in the Sweet 16.

These 16 teams have spent the last few weeks editing their business plans, honing their pitches, and learning from some of Seattle’s top lawyers, investors, and entrepreneurs.

On May 23, each team will make a 15-minute investor pitch to a panel of 7 judges. The 4 teams with the best investor pitches will be selected to advance to the Final Round, where they will compete to win a grand prize of $25,000.

Good luck to the Sweet 16, and stay tuned for the results!

Biomethane (BGI)
Biomethane creates greenhouse-gas-negative vehicle fuel from dairy waste.

Cell Focus (UW)
Cell Focus will produce a revolutionary device that turns a cell phone camera into a microscope.

Elemental Hotels (UW)
Welcome to the next generation of Hotels, Elemental Hotels: Minimalistic micro hotel rooms with smart technology and superior design, at $65/Night.

iHome3D (UW)
iHome3D is a mobile app that allows realtors to create a virtual tour and floor plan of a property, in minutes.

InsuLenz (UW)
InsuLenz is developing a “smart” polymer contact lens to provide a bio-responsive and needle-free insulin delivery platform for diabetics.

MakeSpace (UW)
MakeSpace is the Kinkos of 3D printing.  The company is opening its pilot location in Seattle delivering rapid prototyping and services to architectures and industrial designers.

NIA Wheel (SPU)
NIA Wheel produces and sells a brain wave controlled power wheelchair.

nomON (UW)
nomON is a random delivery meal ordering app, like shuffle for dinner.

PolyDrop (UW)
PolyDrop offers conductive polymer additives for paints, primers and coatings with a significantly lower level of particle loading. Integration of PolyDrop into current production lines of existing formulations is simple and dramatically improves usage lifetime, adhesion and mechanical properties of your product.

Pure Blue Technologies (UW)
Pure Blue Technologies is developing a novel industrial water treatment solution that’s more efficient at a lower cost.

ShunTek (UW, Johns Hopkins University)
ShunTek has produced a medical device, ShunTube, that provides a minimally invasive and cost-effective way to minimize blood loss in inferior vena cava trauma by stanching blood flow and simultaneously maintaining venous return; ShunTube also has applications in treating IVC tumors and Liver Cancer.

Sound THC (Seattle U)
Sound THC will produce cannabis candies in the newly legal recreational marijuana market.

Torch Illumination Co. (UW)
Torch Illumination is a candle company with a mission: for every two candles sold, a solar light will be delivered to an individual living without electricity.

TriboTEX (WSU)
TriboTEX is commercializing PhD research to repair industrial machinery during normal operation using nanotechnology.

Vetna (UW)
Vetna brings portable and automated DNA-based diagnostic capabilities to veterinary clinics which could not previously afford the space, capital and training investments.

Z Girls (UW)
Z Girls measurably improves girls’ participation rates in sports by teaching young female athletes skills like positive self-talk, goal-setting, and body image through coaching and camps.

Follow the UW  Business Plan Competition on Twitter: #UWBPC2013