The MIT $50K Entrepreneurship Competition is a student-run competition, designed to encourage students and researchers in the MIT community to act on their energy, ideas and talent to produce tomorrow's leading firms.
The MIT $50K pairs the world's top business, engineering and science students together to explore development of new companies. The MIT $50K judges and its team of mentors have a joint goal to help MIT students learn about entrepreneurship and start successful companies. The MIT $50K Mentor Program matches entrant teams with successful business people that share a common interest and have the skills, contacts or insight to help a team with their business plan. The result is tremendous experience for the students and a surprising number of successful companies launched while students are completing their degrees.
2003-2004 is the 15 year anniversary for the MIT $50K Entrepreneurship Competition. It was launched in 1989 as a $10K competition when the MIT Entrepreneurs Club and the Sloan New Ventures Association teamed up to create a competition that would take advantage of MIT's winning combination of engineers and business students. 64 teams competed the first year with the winner receiving $10K, and $3K and $2K going to runners up. In 1996 the annual competition evolved into the MIT $50K, with $30K going to the winner and $10K each to two runners up. MIT's competition is now the nation's premier business plan competition, teaching students how to turn their ideas into companies. In March 1998, MIT hosted the first business plan conference, the MIT $50K Global Startup Workshop, to help schools from around the world improve their business plan competitions. MIT has continued its leadership role with this annual conference held this year in Cambridge, UK, March 25-27, 2004.
127 teams, cutting across all areas and departments at MIT, submitted executive summaries. 427 entrants are competing in '04.
Around 1300 teams
Firms Started by $50K Entrants: More than 80 MIT $50K entry teams have launched companies, creating over 1,600 jobs, with a value of more than $4 billion. $50K alumni companies include: Akamai Technologies (1998, NASDAQ: AKAM) -- IPO in 1999; Centrata (2000) - funded by Kleiner Perkins Caufield Buyers; Direct Hit Technologies (1998) -- acquired by Ask Jeeves in 2000; Firefly (1995) -- acquired by Microsoft; Flash Communications (1997) -- acquired by Microsoft; Frictionless Commerce (1998); Lexicus (1991) -- acquired by Motorola; Net.Genesis (1995) -acquired by SPSS in Dec. 2001; Silicon Spice (1995) -acquired by Broadcom in 2000; Stylus Innovation (1991) -- acquired by Artisoft; Thinkfish (1995) -- acquired by Viewpoint Data Systems; Webline Communications (1996) -- acquired by Cisco
Students from all five schools at MIT Sloan; Engineering; Science; Humanities & Social Science; and Architecture & Planning - at the undergraduate and graduate levels have entered and been successful in the competition. Multi-disciplinary teams that combine members from MIT's technical departments with members from the MIT Sloan School of Management have proven the most successful competitors.
The ideas in the $50K represent the entire spectrum of innovation from across the MIT community. In 2004, ideas included a method for selling options for sports playoff tickets, a non-invasive body thermometer, a device to compose music by drawing on a computer screen, a pharmaceutical team targeting the diseases of aging, and a biodegradable, composting toilet. The MIT $50K encourages any MIT student with a business strategy for a marketable product or service to enter the competition. Since MIT is a global center of technological innovation, $50K entries tend to contain more breakthrough technologies than other business plan competitions.
About 20 entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and other professionals involved in entrepreneurship evaluate the contestants. Plans are compared on their market potential and the team's ability to successfully execute their business plan. The most important aspect of MIT's competition is that teams are provided with the education, tools, feedback, and contacts they need to be successful in the early stages of their companies' growth.
Armina Karapetyan, $50K Communications Lead
Kathleen Rowe, MIT Sloan Media Relations
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