$77,500 awarded to student-led startups

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Linda Derschang, 2015 UW BPC Awards Dinner Keynote Speaker

May 21, 2015 – “No matter how smart we are, or how smart we think we are, we all need advice,” said keynote speaker LInda Derschang, founder of The Derschang Group, GSBA 2015 Business Leader of the Year, and owner of some of Seattle’s favorite bars and restaurants, “But remember,” she continued, “advice is like a gift. Say thank you, but make sure it fits before you rip the tag off.”

Derschang spoke to a crowd of over 300 judges, mentors, and student entrepreneurs who were gathered at the Bell Harbor Conference Center Thursday evening to award a record number of prizes—14—and a record amount of seed funding—over $77,000—to participants of the 18th annual  UW Business Plan Competition.

The UW Business Plan Competition, run by the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the Foster School of Business , offers innovative and entrepreneurial students an opportunity to turn their ideas into compelling and viable startups. In the past 18 years 1,278 student teams from 16 colleges and universities around Washington State have participated in the competition, and the Buerk Center has awarded over $1.3 million in prize money/seed funding to 140 winning teams—over half of which are still in business.

While this year’s winning teams represent many industries, a significant number are innovating in the area of life sciences. Empreva, for example, has developed a new method of birth control and STI prevention, and vHAB’s technology helps stroke patients rehabilitate their fine motor skills.

The winners will use their prize money to turn their student teams into early-stage startups—some may apply to the Buerk Center’s Jones + Foster Accelerator, which provides mentoring and guidance through the decisive first six months of the startup process.

Congratulations to this year’s winners:

$25,000 Grand Prize

sponsored by the Herbert B. Jones Foundation

VieDiagnostics_GrandPrize2015_900x693
Vie Diagnostics with Michael Bauer, President of the Herbert B. Jones Foundation

Vie Diagnostics
(University of Washington)
A significant portion of patients attending STD clinics fail to follow up for treatment, even when tests are positive and the risk for transmission and complication is highest. Vie Diagnostics’ disruptive molecular diagnostic technology will reduce the spread and pain of STD infections by allowing patients to be tested and treated in a single clinical visit. Its tests will provide better patient management, lower costs for clinics, and improve overall public health.
Team members: Mark Borysiak, Charlie Corredor, Babak Modhadam


$10,000 Second Place Prize

sponsored by WRF Capital

Empreva_SecondPlace2015_900x534
Empreva with Buerk Center Advisory Board member Ron Howell, President and CEO of the Washington Research Foundation

Empreva
(University of Washington)
Empreva aims to empower and engage women across the world to take their health into their own hands by providing a safe, convenient, and comfortable method for birth control and STI prevention.Empreva is developing birth control and combination birth control/anti-HIV products to benefit the health of women in high-HIV burden areas of the developing world who lack options for protection. For every purchase of an Empreva birth control product in the U.S., Empreva will donate one combination product to a woman in need in the developing world to help achieve sexual health and empowerment for women everywhere.
Team members: Anna Blakney, Matt Brady, Yonghou Jiang, Jonathan Kilpatrick, Tracy Lam-Hine, Renuka Ramanathan

$7,520.15 Finalist Prize

sponsored by the Friends of the BPC

Hook_Finalist2015_900x578
Hook with Buerk Center Advisory Board member Elizabeth Morgan, partner at IBM

Hook (University)
Hook is a home automation hub that offers smart home capability to the price sensitive consumer. Customers are able to convert existing electronics in the home to smart compatible devices, keeping these products up-to-date for years to come. Consumers will enjoy convenience with control via their mobile devices, savings on energy costs, and improved home safety. With an affordable price and remarkable ease of use, Hook aims to make smart home technology accessible to the masses.
Team members: Anirudh Goel,  Rahil Jain, Paul Jeyasingh, Kashyap Kasturi Rangan, Robert Moehle, Saurin Shah, Eric Vera, Arthur Wang, Maxwell Wheeler

$5,000 Finalist Prize

sponsored by Fenwick & West

vHAB_Finalist2015_900x626vHAB (University of Washington)
vHAB is a virtual rehabilitation platform that helps patients regain fine motor skills to lead autonomous lives again. vHAB enables occupational therapists to customize patient treatment and accurately monitor progress through engaging and dynamic video games. System portability and precision metrics pose a competitive advantage for rehabilitation facilities, allowing delivery of quality treatment to patients – anywhere, anytime. vHAB saves rehabilitation facilities time and money. Most importantly, vHAB empowers patients to reclaim their independence.
Team members: Dimitrios Gklezakos Rita Jabbouri, Tyler Libey, Brian Mogen, Ellyce Shullman

 

$5,000 AARP Prize

Targeted for teams that best address the challenges faced by low-income seniors: affordable age-in-place housing; affordable healthy food; increased income; and the impact of isolation on physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Co OpticalCo Optical (Washington State University)
Co Optical specializes in lifestyle management technologies, with a flagship product that revolutionizes diabetes management by continuously and non-invasively monitoring blood glucose. This wearable device, structured as a pair of glasses, improves convenience and enhances the overall user experience allowing seamless integration of lifestyle management strategies into the everyday lives of people with diabetes.
Team members: Samuel Byrd, Zane Duke, Amber Graviet, Qassem Naim

 

$5,000 Wells Fargo Clean Tech Prize

Recognizes a venture with products, services, or processes that harness renewable materials and energy sources, dramatically reduce the use of natural resources, and cut or eliminate emissions and wastes.

NOVA TechnologiesNOVA Technologies (Western Washington University and University of Washington)
NOVA Technologies’ Smart Solar Window uses transparent nanotechnology to create clean, local electricity that can turn skyscrapers into giant solar arrays and reduce HVAC systems costs, an innovative link to a carbon neutral future.
Team members: Hannah Bouscher-Gage, Christian Erickson, James Kintzele, Ashley Loper, James Mayther, Sarah O’Sell, Adam Slater, Ryan Sumner


 

$2500 Best Idea Prizes

Best Technology Prize

sponsored by UIEvolution

Microsoft Word - UW_ES_1page.docxTriboTEX (Washington State University)
TriboTEX aims to extend the operational life-span of industrial machinery by improving efficiency where lubricated friction takes place. TriboTEX’s self-assembling nanostructured lubricious coating provides regenerative effects to frictional surface during normal operation.
Team members: Tom Gualtieri, Matt Hanley, Qassem Naim, Pavlo Rudenko

Best Marketplace Prize

sponsored by ebay Enterprise

Park A LotPark A Lot (University of Washington)
Park A Lot is a platform connecting private businesses who have unused parking spaces with customers looking for parking. Lot owners sign up on a hop-on, hop-off platform and their lots become available to the public, generating them revenue. Customers use Park A Lot’s website or app to purchase parking on a lot of their choice from their home or mobile device.
Team members: Diane Dettling, Bo Gao, Daniel Johnson, Justin Meith, Anna Nordstrom

Best Service/Retail Prize

sponsored by REI

SmartyPantsSmartyPants (University of Washington)
SmartyPants reinvents toilet training and mitigates adult incontinence issues to prevent millions of diapers from ending up as a biohazard in landfills. It predicts impending bowel events and alerts users to get to a toilet. The company’s innovative, first-of-its-kind, technology creates value for the consumers by saving on diaper purchases and the environment by reducing waste and biohazard from disposable diapers.
Team members: Caitlin Cramer, Christian Redd, Shon Schmidt, Vince Wu

Best Consumer Product Prize

sponsored by Accenture

HookHook (University of Washington)
Hook is a home automation hub that offers smart home capability to the price sensitive consumer. Customers are able to convert existing electronics in the home to smart compatible devices, keeping these products up-to-date for years to come. Consumers will enjoy convenience with control via their mobile devices, savings on energy costs, and improved home safety. With an affordable price and remarkable ease of use, Hook aims to make smart home technology accessible to the masses.
Team members: Anirudh Goel,  Rahil Jain, Paul Jeyasingh, Kashyap Kasturi Rangan, Robert Moehle, Saurin Shah, Eric Vera, Arthur Wang, Maxwell Wheeler

Best Sustainable Advantage Prize

sponsored by Sensors In Motion

JikoPowerJikoPower (University of Washington)
JikoPower makes thermo-electric generators to turn ordinary cook stoves into personal charging stations for off-grid households that have small electronic devices in the developing world. JikoPower POWERS devices, but it EMPOWERS people.
Team members: Ryan Ahearn, Joe Koch, Aaron Owen, Daniel Parrish, Shubba Pratiwadibhayankar, Meghna Singla

Best Innovation Prize

sponsored by Perkins Coie

Vie DiagnosticsVie Diagnostics (University of Washington)
A significant portion of patients attending STD clinics fail to follow up for treatment, even when tests are positive and the risk for transmission and complication is highest. Vie Diagnostics’ disruptive molecular diagnostic technology will reduce the spread and pain of STD infections by allowing patients to be tested and treated in a single clinical visit. Its tests will provide better patient management, lower costs for clinics, and improve overall public health.
Team members: Mark Borysiak, Charlie Corredor, Babak Modhadam

Best Health/Healthcare Prize

sponsored by Cambia

EmprevaEmpreva (University of Washington)
Empreva aims to empower and engage women across the world to take their health into their own hands by providing a safe, convenient, and comfortable method for birth control and STI prevention. Empreva is developing birth control and combination birth control/anti-HIV products to benefit the health of women in high-HIV burden areas of the developing world who lack options for protection. For every purchase of an Empreva birth control product in the U.S., Empreva will donate one combination product to a woman in need in the developing world to help achieve sexual health and empowerment for women everywhere.
Team members: Anna Blakney, Matt Brady, Yonghou Jiang, Jonathan Kilpatrick, Tracy Lam-Hine, Renuka Ramanathan

Best Idea for the Future Prize

sponsored by DLA Piper

PowerPoint PresentationmiPS (University of Washington)
miPS is the first consumer stem cell generation and cell banking service. miPS allows consumers to store their adult cells to prevent cellular aging, generate stem cell lines for research, and use banked cells for future stem cell therapies.
Team members: Alex Jiao, Jenna Strully, Ned Whalen

 

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Authentic international business experience at the Specialty Coffee Event

Guest post by Cristina Stefan, Foster undergraduate and Certificate of International Studies in Business student

Through the Certificate of International Studies in Business program (CISB), I had the incredible opportunity to attend the 27th edition of the Specialty Coffee Event, which took place April 9–12 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Josef Moreno and I volunteered to work with the honorary consulate of Peru, located in Seattle, to help translate and interpret for the coffee roasters that had come from all over Peru to show their merchandise and enter the international coffee market. For some it was their second or third time attending the event, but for others it was their first time outside of their home country. We did our best to support them and help them in their interactions with the consumers and retailers present at the trade show.

It was an unimaginable experience and a perfect way to put my Spanish language skills to use. While Joe helped with a private meeting among the Peruvian vendors, I interpreted for the coffee roasters–some of whom spoke a very distinct Spanish dialect specific to the region they had come from. I facilitated information exchanges and future travel arrangements between coffee growers, toasters, vendors, and buyers from all over the world who had come to the Peruvian booths to learn about the delicious coffee grown in Peru.

Being so closely involved not only enriched my vocabulary and stretched my thinking, but also opened my eyes to a new industry few people know the details of. Among the coffee types we tried were Geisha, Catuai, Caturra, Colombiana, Arusha, Kona, Java, and Pache. We discovered “cupping,” a very unique coffee tasting technique, using a spoon and very briskly sipping the coffee. Who knew being a coffee taster also requires a specific certification?

We were able to observe how coffee is toasted, bagged, and even roasted and prepared in the different machines and then served. We tried iced coffees, frappes, Italian sodas, and many other delicious coffee based products.

Above all, the cultural experience and the ability to interact and network with professionals in the coffee industry was invaluable. Observing the different negotiation techniques and all the cultural differences based on the country of origin of the attendees reminded me of all that I’ve learned about international business in my classes here at Foster. This was probably the most authentic international business setting I have participated in.

Historic MBA class gift seeds Foster’s first student-run investment fund

MBA-Investment-Fund3
Senior lecturer Lance Young and portfolio managers Brennen Ricks, Tristan Toomey, Aalok Shah and Brett Schulte.

Lance Young is not afraid to wield a sports metaphor when it’s warranted. And to describe the Foster School’s new MBA Investment Fund, his game of choice is baseball.

“It’s like AAA ball,” says the senior lecturer in finance who serves as faculty advisor for the nascent student-managed fund. “We play the game to the best of our ability the way it’s played by research and money management shops, applying all of the frameworks we learn here at Foster.”

That is to say, the school’s “minor league of investment management” is educational, but not academic. The fund is a serious venture led by portfolio managers and informed by research analysts, each following a disciplined and rigorous strategy.

And now, they have real money to invest.

Funding

That money originated with the Foster MBA Class of 2011 which dedicated its outgoing class gift toward creating a live investment fund for future students to manage as an indelible learning experience and a pipeline to the majors, so to speak.

“We wanted Foster to develop more opportunities for MBA students with an interest in finance, and also improve the competitive positioning of the school,” says ringleader Andrew Parcel (MBA 2011), now a vice president and private wealth advisor at Goldman Sachs. “This seemed like an obvious way to add a tool for recruiting students and improving the chances of finding work in the investment community.”

Under the guidance of Thomas Gilbert, assistant professor of finance, leaders of the MBA Finance Society began drawing up structure, policy and procedures for the fund. The subsequent MBA Classes of 2012 and 2014 dedicated all or parts of their graduation gifts to the initiative. Dean Jiambalvo added to the account.

And late last spring, well ahead of expectation, the fund reached its trigger point of $100,000. Go time.

Founding

With Gilbert away this year as a visiting professor at the University of British Columbia, Young stepped in. And Tristan Toomey stepped up.

Toomey, this year’s Finance Society president, recruited fellow second-year MBAs Aalok Shah, Brennen Ricks and Brett Schulte to serve with him as portfolio managers. They “hired” 13 first-year students as research analysts and commenced building a boutique investment fund from the ground up.

This has required discipline and patience. Before a cent of capital was invested, the team established a viable organizational and spent most of the academic year systematically populating a massive matrix of market data that will become a library for future MBA fund managers.

This analysis trickles down from economy to industry to firm. “In the next stage we’re looking at particular companies that present real alpha because they’re doing something innovative that can provide positive returns in the long term,” Toomey says.

Young adds that the experience has been a de facto capstone of the entire Foster MBA experience.

“If you want to find alpha, you have to understand a company’s business better than the rest of the market does,” he says. “That takes an analytical capability that comes from all the disciplines we teach at Foster. Every one of those checkmarks on the matrix is a framework applied.”

Future

This year’s portfolio managers have made their first investments of the fund—now over $300,000—just weeks before they graduate. “We knew that building continuity was the most important thing this year,” Toomey says.

The legacy will be both a working fund and a class outside the classroom—to be passed like a torch to future Foster MBAs of the finance persuasion.

“If we had done this in a theoretical setting, we could never achieve this level of reality and practical learning,” says Toomey.

“But because we have real money and report to real ‘shareholders,’ ” Young adds, “we have to follow a rock-solid investment thesis that makes sense and has the Foster brand on every trade.”

Dan Poston, assistant dean for graduate programs, notes that the fund, from concept to execution, is an exemplary collaboration between former, current and future Foster MBAs.

“As a sustainable, practical piece of the Foster education,” he says, “the way the fund mimics reality in its design and its management is a beautiful thing.”

Maybe even a grand slam.

Foster undergrads place eighth at National Collegiate Sales Competition

Guest post by Rick Carter, assistant director, Foster Professional Sales Program

Foster Professional Sales Program students Collin Lea, Amy Tachasirinugune, and Laurel Rice
Foster Professional Sales Program students Collin Lea, Amy Tachasirinugune, and Laurel Rice

Foster Professional Sales Program students Collin Lea, Amy Tachasirinugune, and Laurel Rice competed in the National Collegiate Sales Competition on April 8-10 at Kennesaw State University. They placed eighth out of 67 universities, sending one student to the quarter finals and one student to the semi-finals. Thirty-five corporate sponsors acted as judges and buyers for the twenty minute sales calls.

The NCSC undergraduate competition is a sales call skills challenge which is run as an elimination-style tournament. The goals of the competition are to promote the sales profession; provide an opportunity for corporate sponsors to interact with top collegiate prospects; furnish a venue for students to exhibit and enhance their selling skills; and provide a venue for students, professors, and sales executives to network.

Collin Lea said, “The competition is based on real situations, needs ID, product demos, and plenty of buyer objections. Knowing that any of us can go into a room and lead a sales call from beginning to end is invaluable. This is a skill set we are using right now as we seek our first career job.”

The competition is designed to be challenging, engaging, and rewarding. Laurel Rice said, “I had to go back into the wild card round and felt very discouraged, but I flipped my mindset and forced myself to smile, work hard, and stay in the competition. That evening the news came that I had made the quarter finals, and we were overwhelmed with excitement.”

Amy Tachasirinugune said, “This was an experience that was unforgettable and helped me build confidence to compete in the real world. I’m much more comfortable in high-pressure situations and have been more relaxed in recent job interviews.”

Congratulations to the 2015 National Collegiate Sales Competition UW Team!

What do business plan competitions accomplish?

I had lunch with a good friend last week—someone who supports tech entrepreneurship and the larger Seattle startup community. He asked if there was research to detail the value of business plan competitions. What, he asked me, do business plan competitions accomplish?

UW Business Plan Competition Investment Round 2015
A sea of student teams, judges, and mentors at the Business Plan Competition Investment Round

There are 350+ entrepreneurship centers in US colleges and universities, and my sense is that less than 70% of them have competitions called business plan competitions, startup competitions, new venture competitions, etc. Some programs require their own students to participate in their competition, a good number of them have national or international scope, and a number of them have themes (social, tech, global, undergraduate, graduate). Most all of them award money, and some of them, like Rice University, offer BIG money.

OlyKraut, UW Business Plan Competition 2014
OlyKraut, UW Business Plan Competition 2014

Competitions, in my opinion, shouldn’t be easy, and students should never get a grade for competing. If you want to mimic the realities of the entrepreneurial world in the safe environment of a university, you have to up the ante. Make the competition as real world as possible, with deadlines and deliverables that require student teams to use all the resources they can muster to succeed.  Yes, we assume that students are smart, talented, driven and motivated. How good are they at combining those personal characteristics with an idea, a vision and turning it all into a compelling business? It’s a test. But not like any they’re used to.

Competitions require that student teams butt up against reality. Anyone can write a business plan, but tell me about your execution strategy. What traction do you have to date? Give me a customer profile. Who’s your mentor, your industry expert? Who on your team is going to leave to take a job after graduation—and who’s starting the company?

UpHill Designs, UW Business Plan Competition 2014
UpHill Designs, UW Business Plan Competition 2014

The UW Business Plan Competition is badly named, and we know it. We started the event in 1998, when every major university was starting a  BPC. Then it was about the plan, but the plan was demoted in 2006 and now the 100+ teams apply with an executive summary. In the 18 years we’ve offered our Business Plan Competition, 4,091 students on 1,278 teams from 16 colleges and universities around Washington State have applied. We’ve given out $1.3 million in prize money/seed funding to 128 winning teams. We guess that 75+ teams that went through the competition are still in business, contributing to the (mostly) Washington economy. The 2003 grand-prize winner, NanoString, went public in 2013.

But here’s the real value of the BPC:  it’s hard. It takes discipline and motivation and sheer determination. It demands that teams overcome doubt and anxiety, team dynamics, and their own misconceptions of how things should work or who deserves what. It requires them to move past the paralysis that will surely come when their initial market vanishes or when financial projections are scoffed at. The pain and frustration would make it easy to quit. And some do. The survivors become entrepreneurs.

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Meet the Author

ConnieBourassaShaw_editsAs director of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the Foster School of Business, Connie Bourassa-Shaw works to integrate entrepreneurship into the student experience at the University of Washington. She’s responsible for the strategic direction of the center, ensuring the relevance of its curriculum and practical experiences, working with student entrepreneurs, and developing new initiatives. The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, which received a $5.2 million naming gift in January 2013, produces the UW Environmental Innovation Challenge and the highly visible Business Plan Competition.

 

Minority Business Hall of Fame 2015

On April 21, the Consulting and Business Development Center had the honor of hosting the Minority Business Hall of Fame and Museum (MBHF) for the second year as MBHF inducted five new members into the prestigious Hall of Fame.

image7

MBHF has been acknowledging trailblazers in the area of minority businesses as honorees since 2005, and this year marked a significant step towards creating a global community when the first international honoree, Dr. Jan Neissen, was inducted into the Hall of Fame and Museum.  In his acceptance of the award, Dr. Neissen eloquently spoke about his study of American systems of minority supplier development and his efforts throughout his career at implementing the same ideals in Europe.  He cited fellow honorees Anthony Robinson and Ralph Moore as influencers in his work both through their participation in the civil rights movement in America and their continuing work as proponents of equal opportunities both in the US and internationally.

Another significant induction was the late Billy Frank Jr., member of the Nisqually Tribe, who was represented by his son, Willie Frank. Billy Frank Jr.’s life work led directly to the growth of

image14business opportunities for Native families and for tribes across the U.S. From family-owned fishing businesses to tribally-owned hatcheries and fish processing plants thousands of jobs for Native and non-Native people have been created affecting the business community both here at home in Washington state and across the nation.

This year, the honorees became more than just pictures on the wall when UW Foster undergraduates were given the opportunity to meet these trailblazers face-to-face and interact with the honorees in a special lunch panel. During this luncheon, the inductees shared about their work and their lives as well as the wisdom they had to impart to the students as they move forward with their careers.  After participating in the luncheon Lillian Mitchum, a senior at Foster studying operations and supply chain management, said, “It was encouraging to hear the stories of the honorees; where they started out, how far they have come, and how much they have accomplished during their journey.”image8

When asked about what the next generation of leaders should be focused on in moving towards diversity and equal opportunities for businesses inductee Bill Imada encouraged students to know their own background and stories and to, “share those stories with one another and engage.”

All are invited to come and share in the stories of this year’s nominees on display in the Mackenzie Hall Lobby.

 

Foster MBAs take first in their division at ethics competition

Evening MBA students  Kayla Erickson, Garin Wedeking, and Naveen Ahmed
Kayla Erickson (MBA 2016), Garin Wedeking (MBA 2015), and Naveen Ahmed (MBA 2016)

Foster Evening MBA students Naveen Ahmed, Kayla Erickson, and Garin Wedeking took first place in their division at the International Business Ethics Case Competition (IBECC) on April 23 in New Orleans.

The International Business Ethics Case Competition is the premier international competition of its kind. It is jointly sponsored by the Ethics & Compliance Officer Association, the Center for Ethics and Business at Loyola Marymount University, and the Opus College of Business of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

Foster MBAs competed in the full presentation competition. The team identified an ethically-problematic issue and designed a presentation to address that issue. They picked the use of technology at Uber. In their presentation they explained the legal, financial, and ethical dimensions of the issue and recommended a solution that addressed all three dimensions. The presentation was judged by professional corporate ethics and compliance officers. The purpose of the competition is to show students it is possible to do business profitably while acting ethically.

According to Elizabeth Umphress, associate professor of management at Foster, “The team was extremely well-prepared, and did a fantastic job!”

Change as strength

While introducing Bsquare CEO Jerry Chase as the April 22 Leaders to Legends Breakfast speaker, Dean Jiambalvo described the tech leader as an “accomplished executive with decades of experience leading public and private companies through times of transition and growth.” With the theme of “transition and growth” clearly in mind, Chase spent his time at the podium discussing the importance of listening to customers, company adaptability, and the burgeoning “internet of things” industry.

Watch his full lecture below.

Meet the UW Business Plan Competition Sweet 16

BPC Investment Round 2015
A sea of student teams and judges at the 2015 UW Business Plan Competition Investment Round

37 student-led startup teams from colleges and universities across Washington state gathered at the University of Washington HUB yesterday to compete in the 2015 Business Plan Competition Investment Round. For four hours, the teams pitched their entrepreneurial ideas to  250+ judges—many of whom said it was the most impressive group of teams in the history of the BPC— in the hopes of landing a spot in the next round of the competition. By the end of the afternoon the scores had been tallied and the sixteen top-scoring teams were announced. These teams will move on to the “Sweet Sixteen” round of the 2015 BPC—one step closer to winning the $25,000 Grand Prize. Congrats to the Sweet Sixteen!

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

Auctora
University of Washington

Auctora’s automated recruiting tool seamlessly screens, sorts, and schedules candidates so that corporate recruiters can utilize their time more effectively while sourcing job applicants. No dealing with paper resumes; no back-and-forth emails between recruiters and candidates – welcome to recruiting in the 21st century!

Authality
University of Washington

Authality’s first product, Klide, is the most secure and convenient smart lock, and the only smart lock that meets the demands of Airbnb hosts. Klide pairs a physical lock with a mobile app that allows hosts to distribute revocable “keys” to guests and control access remotely.

Benchmark Environmental
University of Washington and Washington State University

Benchmark Environmental is changing the way we treat storm water. By combining innovative design with new technologies, our treatment solutions are affordable, easy to install, and low maintenance. Benchmark Environmental’s products enable more companies and municipalities to treat storm water runoff effectively–a win-win for customers and the environment.

Bettery
University of Washington Tacoma

Bettery provides consumers with the most cost effective, convenient, and sustainable portable power solution on the market. Bettery taps a growing demand for sustainable solutions by offering batteries as a low cost subscription service.

Co Optical
Washington State University

Co Optical specializes in lifestyle management technologies, with a flagship product that revolutionizes diabetes management by continuously and non-invasively monitoring blood glucose. This wearable device, structured as a pair of glasses, improves convenience and enhances the overall user experience allowing seamless integration of lifestyle management strategies into the everyday lives of people with diabetes.

Empreva
University of Washington

Empreva aims to empower and engage women across the world to take their health into their own hands by providing a safe, convenient, and comfortable method for birth control and STI prevention.Empreva is developing birth control and combination birth control/anti-HIV products to benefit the health of women in high-HIV burden areas of the developing world who lack options for protection. For every purchase of an Empreva birth control product in the U.S., Empreva will donate one combination product to a woman in need in the developing world to help achieve sexual health and empowerment for women everywhere.

Go KEFI
Washington State University

Go KEFI is an experience-based travel website that helps you plan vacations based off desired experiences and budget. The team won first place at Spokane Startup Weekend 2014, and has since sparked a movement for a new way to travel.

Hook
University of Washington

Hook is a home automation hub that offers smart home capability to the price sensitive consumer. Customers are able to convert existing electronics in the home to smart compatible devices, keeping these products up-to-date for years to come. Consumers will enjoy convenience with control via their mobile devices, savings on energy costs, and improved home safety. With an affordable price and remarkable ease of use, Hook aims to make smart home technology accessible to the masses.

JikoPower
University of Washington

JikoPower makes thermo-electric generators to turn ordinary cook stoves into personal charging stations for off-grid households that have small electronic devices in the developing world. JikoPower POWERS devices, but it EMPOWERS people.

NOVA Technologies
Western Washington University and University of Washington

NOVA Technologies’ Smart Solar Window uses transparent nanotechnology to create clean, local electricity that can turn skyscrapers into giant solar arrays and reduce HVAC systems costs, an innovative link to a carbon neutral future.

Park A Lot
University of Washington

Park A Lot is a platform connecting private businesses who have unused parking spaces with customers looking for parking. Lot owners sign up on a hop-on, hop-off platform and their lots become available to the public, generating them revenue. Customers use Park A Lot’s website or app to purchase parking on a lot of their choice from their home or mobile device.

RainCity Heart Lab
Seattle University

Seventy percent of patients who have suffered a heart attack for the first time were previously classified as low risk for cardiovascular disease based on the current testing methods. RainCity Heart Lab (RCHL) is a specialty diagnostic lab that offers a better diagnostic test called CALLIS. CALLIS (Calibrated Lipoprotein Ion Separation) is a blood test for accurately quantifying intact lipoproteins for improved Cardio Vascular Disease risk assessment.

SmartyPants
University of Washington

SmartyPants reinvents toilet training and mitigates adult incontinence issues to prevent millions of diapers from ending up as a biohazard in landfills. It predicts impending bowel events and alerts users to get to a toilet. The company’s innovative, first-of-its-kind, technology creates value for the consumers by saving on diaper purchases and the environment by reducing waste and biohazard from disposable diapers.

vHAB
University of Washington

vHAB is a virtual rehabilitation platform that helps patients regain fine motor skills to lead autonomous lives again. vHAB enables occupational therapists to customize patient treatment and accurately monitor progress through engaging and dynamic video games. System portability and precision metrics pose a competitive advantage for rehabilitation facilities, allowing delivery of quality treatment to patients – anywhere, anytime. vHAB saves rehabilitation facilities time and money. Most importantly, vHAB empowers patients to reclaim their independence.

Vie Diagnostics
University of Washington

A significant portion of patients attending STD clinics fail to follow up for treatment, even when tests are positive and the risk for transmission and complication is highest. Vie Diagnostics’ disruptive molecular diagnostic technology will reduce the spread and pain of STD infections by allowing patients to be tested and treated in a single clinical visit. Its tests will provide better patient management, lower costs for clinics, and improve overall public health.

Yowgii
University of Washington

Yowgii has the potential to disrupt the bottled water industry and the water filtration industry. The global bottled water industry is worth over $157 billion a year, but is heavily comprised of plastic bottles with significant environmental footprint and potential for contaminants. Yowgii combines environmentally-friendly water delivery with innovative water purification to deliver the best drinking water to consumer and promises pure water for a better you!

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See what others have to say about the BPC on Twitter: #UWBPC2015

 

A contrarian’s tale

“And then I ran out of money. That,” says Scott McAdams (MBA 1986), “was when I knew it was time to get serious about finding a job.”

Chris Ackerlund with Scott McAdams
Chris Ackerlund, recipient of the McAdams Wright Ragen, Inc. Endowed Scholarship, with Scott McAdams (MBA 1986).

A few months prior to running out of funds, McAdams had graduated from Cornell University with degree in mechanical engineering. The year was 1979. Jimmy Carter was president. McDonald’s introduced the Happy Meal. The economy was in a lull and jobs were hard to get. Oil prices were high.

McAdams was fascinated by alternative energy and passionate about becoming a solar engineer, so, after graduating, he came west. First he drove to Colorado for some interviews. He then went to New Mexico. He stayed with some relatives and lined up some more interviews.

All of the interviews led him to the conclusion that jobs in the field were demanding PhDs. This conclusion coincided with running out of money. McAdams started to send out resumes further afield.

Hello, Scott. This is Boeing.

One of the resumes got him an interview with Boeing, which led to another. “Everything happened over the phone,” says McAdams. “They even hired me over the phone. It was as if they were thinking, ‘We need engineers and you passed muster.’”

He had never been to the Northwest, but accepted the job offer and drove to Seattle with everything he owned in January of 1980.

McAdams found Boeing to be an incredible company, but a bit stifling. “If you were young and ambitious at that time—and I was—it wasn’t a great place to be. There were guys who had been there for 20 to 30 years and they weren’t going anywhere,” says McAdams. “It just wasn’t moving fast enough for me.”

McAdams sought other work, but found it hard to find. He believes a good part of it was a prevailing attitude in the area at the time of Boeing engineers. “There was an unspoken mark against you if you worked at Boeing, if you were part of the ‘lazy B,’ as many people called it.”

A well placed bet

McAdams decided to pursue an MBA and applied to a number of schools. With acceptance letters in hand, and a desire to stay in Seattle, he made his choice. “At the time, Seattle was a provincial enough economy that if you wanted to work in the Northwest you were better off going to school in the Northwest. So I did,” says McAdams. “It was the bet I made and it worked out.”

Once he was in school, the decision to pursue finance as a concentration was easy. “As my wife reminds me, even at Boeing I would read the WSJ everyday cover to cover. Even as an engineer, I wanted to be a stock analyst.”

At the time, there weren’t many investment firms in Seattle. He interned with Foster & Marshall (where he met both Michael and A.O. Foster). Upon graduating, he went to work for Cable, Howse & Ragen as a junior analyst.

“My starting salary was half what I had been making as an engineer two years before. But at the time, the finance community was so small and if you wanted to get your foot in the door, you started at the ground floor,” says McAdams. “I was so excited to have the job, it didn’t matter.”

The early days provided some lessons that couldn’t be taught in school, even by Karma Hadjimikilakis and Bill Alberts, his favorite professors in the program. He learned a lot, but didn’t realize the courage it would take.

“It’s something you have to experience and it’s brutal. Classic problem you run into: a stock drops 50%, you do your analysis and think it must be the bottom, so you build a position. Then you realize it’s not the bottom when it drops another 50% and it turns out your assumption wasn’t accurate. And you’re faced with a big decision–do you double up or sell and take the loss? When you’re in this business and you come in in the morning and one of your stocks has done that, it’ll be the worst 24 hours of your life.”

Youre all fired

Within a couple of years, he returned to work at Foster Marshall, a subsidiary of Shearson American Express at time, but which still had a local research staff led by John Mackenzie.

“Shearson Lehman had a huge research department in New York, which was being led by Peter Cohen, and they didn’t really need us in Seattle. And unlike the team in New York, we were practicing contrarian value based investing,” says McAdams.

In 1988, the differences in investing approach came to a head. The New York research department was recommending the sale of a particular security. The Seattle office was recommending a buy on the same security. “Someone must have marched into Peter’s office and said, ‘What are these guys doing in Seattle? They’re confusing the clients.’ He called us that day and fired the whole department.”

According to the Seattle Times, that same year, Tom Cable and Elwood “Woody” Howse “decided to focus exclusively on their Bellevue-based venture-capital firm, investing in new, cash-hungry companies.” That provided an opening for John Mackenzie, with his small team of recently laid-off analysts, to approach Brooks Ragen. Ragen MacKenzie, formed in 1988, prospered and grew becoming a dominant regional firm in the Northwest.   The firm was eventually sold to Wells Fargo in 2000, which later folded the operation into its larger brokerage unit.

We need a name

In late spring of 1998, Ragen made a call to McAdams. He wanted to start another firm.

“At the time, Brooks was in his 60s,” recalls McAdams. “He said, ‘I’ll supply the capital, my name and contacts, and you do all the work.’ ”

The men pulled a staff together and found a location, but ran into a dilemma prior to opening their doors. They were in need of a name. “Because of the terms with our prior firm, we couldn’t use our names together. It sounded too much like Ragen Mackenzie,” says McAdams. “We needed another name.”

They wanted to find someone with a name that meant something in Seattle. At the last hour, the duo asked Bagley Wright if they could include his name. Wright was well known as a real estate developer as well as a philanthropist and patron of the arts. He agreed to lend his name and became a shareholder and a member of the board.

Contrarian value investing

“Contrarian value based investing tends to work because it isn’t used very often,” says McAdams. “It’s about buying when companies are down and out and no one else wants them. You’re looking for the intrinsic value and trying to guess what Wall Street is thinking. Practiced with discipline it tends to be, on a risk adjusted basis, a good way to manage retail money.”

He is quick to note that the approach is not going to make a 20-something a millionaire, but for someone with a million dollars in their 60s it’s a good way to protect it and make some money.

“There’s always been this little enclave of people in the northwest that believe in this type of investing,” says McAdams. That little enclave helped McAdams Wright Ragen become a big success. The firm experienced 15 straight years of growth of approximately 20% every year.

During that fifteenth year of growth, McAdams along with his partners and staff decided to celebrate in a unique fashion. Rather than throw a lavish party, they endowed a scholarship at the Foster School, the educational institution that educated many of them, to create a means by which to encourage students to pursue a finance career. Of equal importance to McAdams and his partners was the desire to contribute to the most vulnerable parts of the community by designating the scholarship for students affiliated with the university’s Educational Opportunity Program.

The closing bell

As the firm celebrated their fifteenth year of business and growth, they were approached by Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird & Co. with an offer to buy the firm.

“Brooks and I decided that if we were ever going to sell, the firm would have to be of high caliber and high integrity,” says McAdams. ”Unfortunately on Wall Street, there is a shortage of those things. We were particular and Baird passed the test. We worked with them to understand the values of our firm and our clients. It made sense and it made a return for our shareholders.”

McAdams notes that notifying clients was hard, particularly because most were with the firm because they shared a world view and values.

As for life after the acquisition? McAdams and his wife have been traveling, enjoying hobbies and catching up on long neglected projects. “I’m probably at a stage where being on boards might make the best use of my experience, says McAdams. “I‘m not currently enthused about being another CEO, but I wouldn’t rule it out if something really disruptive came around.”

Perhaps there’s a firm out there in need of a name.

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