MSTC Team Takes 2nd Place in Global Venture Labs Investment Competition
NuMat Technologies from Northwestern University beat out 37 teams from top MBA programs around the world to claim the grand prize at the 29th annual Global Venture Labs Investment Competition held at The University of Texas at Austin on Saturday, May 5. NuMat Technologies designs and creates high-performance materials to store clean fuels and produce them on a large scale for industry.
The NuMat Technologies team, Chris Wilmer and Tabrez Ebrahim, won a $135,000 package including Austin Technology Incubator office space, mentoring and consulting services; a full-page ad in Inc. magazine; consulting with the McCombs entrepreneurship faculty worth $25,000; and cash. The winning team will also ring the closing bell at the NASDAQ Stock Market on Fri., July 27.
NuMat Technologies’ COO Tabrez Ebrahim is quite familiar with the university, since he received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Cockrell School of Engineering. “It feels really good to be an alum—Austin’s my favorite place,” he said. Ebrahim has also worked with cleantech startups at the Austin Technology Incubator, which has helped 200-plus startups raise over $1 billion in investor capital.
First runner-up was Athena Laboratories, the first team from the Master’s of Science in Technology Commercialization (MSTC) program to reach the Global Venture Labs Competition finals. The team—Ravine Woods, Albert Alvarez, Wendy Wu, Wendell Johnson, Alex Garcia and Wayne Whitmire—won a $5,000 prize, as well as prizes for “Outstanding Product” and “Outstanding Presentation” within their division. CEO Ravine Woods said, “We’re super-excited and very proud to represent the MSTC program in the finals.” Athena Laboratories is a medical device company whose FemtoSmooth™ laser technology can treat cellulite in a minimally invasive, less painful manner.
EMBA student Michael Garel won a $1,000 E. Craig Nemec Achievement Challenge award, as well as well as an award for “Outstanding Written Business Plan” for his startup eyeQ, which uses video analytics to provide bricks-and-mortar shoppers with an experience as rich as shopping online and offers retailers the ability to monitor and make marketing decisions based on real-time shopper purchasing behavior.
Rounding out the finals with a $3,000 prize was Sustainable Agriculture Solutions (SAS) from Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia. SAS will produce an enhanced-efficiency fertilizer incorporating a patented nanotechnology called CDS® that protects crop nutrients, saving in fertilizer cost, increasing productivity and safeguarding the environment.
A team from Thammasat University in Thailand won the first-ever $10,000 Wells Fargo Clean Energy prize with their startup Paramaxx, whose a proprietary technology can extract valuable natural minerals such as magnesium, nitrogen and phosphorus from industrial waste.
NuMat Technologies was awarded the top prize after the two-day competition that featured 15 international MBA teams and 22 teams from the leading MBA programs around the U.S. Finals-round judges were William Glasgow, Prime IX Investments; Phil Speros, Halsa Pharmaceuticals; Mike Dodd, Austin Ventures, and Thomas Pickens III, Astrotech Corporation.
NuMat Technologies was one of two teams that reached the Saturday-afternoon finals round of four teams via the Wild Card Challenge. The other was Ischiban from the University of Cincinnati, a medical device startup company that develops comprehensive diagnostic and monitoring systems to aid in the assessment of neurological status for conditions like stroke.
The Global Investment Venture Labs Competition simulates the real-world process of raising venture capital. It is a unique partnership that brings together graduate students and business leaders. The judges function as an investment group seeking to reach consensus on the business venture they would most likely fund. The quality of the idea, the strength of the management team and the clarity and persuasiveness of the written plan and oral presentation all influence the judges’ decisions.
Begun at the University of Texas at Austin by MBA students in 1984, the Venture Labs Investment Competition is the oldest new venture competition in the world, and it provides MBA student teams with a chance to simulate the real world process of raising venture capital.
The competition was sponsored by Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs. An interdisciplinary education and research initiative, Venture Labs promotes new venture creation at The University of Texas at Austin through education and mentoring, market and business plan validation, team-building and networking and direct links to resources and funding.