MIT $50K Entrepreneurship Competition expands focus on retail business ideas

Finalists to pitch business plan summaries to judges on February 15

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., February 11, 2005 — MIT conjures up such associations as futuristic robotic inventions, cutting-edge brain research, innovative engineering breakthroughs and... fashion initiatives?

This year's MIT $50K Entrepreneurship Competition is expanding its focus to include non-technical retail concepts. Now in its 16th year, the Competition has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and business startup services to outstanding teams of student entrepreneurs who submitted business plans for new ventures showing significant business potential. The Competition has facilitated the birth of over 60 companies with an aggregate value of over $10.5 billion dollars. Teams composed of students from all five schools at MIT — MIT Sloan School of Management, Engineering, Science, Humanities, and Architecture — at the undergraduate and graduate levels are slated to compete. The winning team will be announced on May 9, 2005 at the final awards event on the MIT campus.

For the first time in the $50K Competition's history, finalists competing in the non-technical retail area will pitch their business plan summaries to a group of more than 100 fellow students and a panel of judges. The four finalists' business ideas will focus on fashion, jewelry, restaurants and online music. Judging will take place on Tuesday, February 15 11:45am at 2 Amherst Street in room E51-354. The panel is slated to include:

  • Jason Jhonson, Director of Strategic Planning, American Greetings
  • Tom Anderson, CEO of UPromise
  • Bob Jones, President and CEO of Vitasoy
  • Carl Prindle, President and CEO of Furniture.com

Each team will then have five minutes to answer questions from the judges and the audience followed by five minutes of feedback from the judges. The teams will be judged on originality, potential market size, investment potential, differentiation, and on the strength of the team. All participating teams will be awarded one hour with an angel investor. The winning team will receive a check for $250 and will be eligible to compete in the $50K Competition this spring.

“The new focus on the retail category expands the role and reach of the MIT $50K Entrepreneurship Competition,” said Jamie Dooley, 30, a second-year MBA student at MIT Sloan School of Management and co-founder of the MIT Sloan Retail Club. “Rather than being perceived strictly as a business plan competition with a focus on engineering and science, it continues to grow as an effective means of incubating business ideas and resources across all industries.”

According to Dooley, retail entries in the past tended to be limited. Dooley is currently working on updating and supplementing a data base of alumni and mentors with a background in the retail, fashion and luxury industries. “This expansion builds upon the MIT $50K Competition's overall goal of providing participants with access to a network of world-class entrepreneurs, investors, potential partners and mentors,” said Dooley. The MIT Sloan Retail Club has also grown since its launch in the fall and has been providing members resources in the form of conferences, workshops, job recruiting and an upcoming Student Trek to Milan during the week of March 20.

For more information on this year's $50K Entrepreneurship Competition, please visit: http://50k.mit.edu/

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