January 1, 2005

Part-Time MBA Business Innovation Competition

Neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor dark of night could stop the ten teams contending for first place in the re-scheduled Part-Time MBA Business Innovation Competition on Friday, January 28. Each team had just eight minutes to convince an astute panel of judges that they had the most innovative idea, and a comprehensive business plan that could bring it from the realm of ideas to reality. All 332 second-year part-time MBA students participated in the competition. The three-member teams were winnowed down from 110 teams in the first round of judging to 30 in the second round, to just 10 in the final round.

The Business Innovation Competition provided students the opportunity to develop a new product or innovate on an existing product or process from conception to proposition. It exposed students to the resources of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship and provided a creative opportunity to demonstrate the skills they acquired from their first year core coursework, said Cherie Scricca, associate dean for masters programs and career management.

Proposals ranged from the highly technical to the more whimsical. Some teams proposed entirely new products, while others combined existing products or technology in a new way. Two teams capitalized on the fact that modern cell phones are equipped with global positioning system data, two other teams found new uses for RFID technology, and three suggested new services for already-existing corporations.

After their presentations the teams faced tough questions from the panel of judges, which included Dean Howard Frank; Steve Dubin 74 (right), president of Martek Biosciences Corporation; Charles Heller, professor of practice for the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, managing director of Beacon Global Advisors and senior managing director of Beacon Global Private Equity; and John La Pides, professor of practice for the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship and president and CEO of Snow Valley, Inc.

Alumnus Steve Dubin, president of Martek Biosciences Corporation, who spoke to the audience of students, presenters, faculty and onlookers, encouraged the MBA candidates to seize the opportunity in every difficulty and focus on the impact they could make within an organization. Build a good team around you, work very hard, and do what you can to make a difference, he advised.

First-place winners received $500 each; second- and third-place winners each received $200.

  • First-place proposal Legal-ease, an H&R Block-type legal services shop with stores in malls and affordable basic service, was presented by James Schlick, David Miller and Melissa Murphy Lanzo.
  • Second-place proposal Demand-Based Price Adjustments for Single-Event Ticket Sales, a pricing model for Ticketmaster that varies prices based on the popularity of the event, was presented by Darren Goode, Craig Lowenstein and Mike Mausteller.
  • Third-place proposal mFinder, a system using the GPS technology in cellphones to create buddy lists that would let you know where fellow cell-phone users are located, was presented by Clarence Grant. Fellow team members were Jonathan Ho and Evgeny Chebotarev.

Other proposals included:

  • Plants to gasify coal in order to produce electricity in a ecologically-friendly way;
  • Adding customer wood shops to Home Depot stores;
  • A wireless-detection system for broken traffic lights;
  • Product tracking on trucks through integrated wireless services;
  • Using cell phones and GPS technology to generate real-time traffic information;
  • Using RFID-equipped golf balls and readers to give golfers instant feedback on their stats;
  • A broadband video-on-demand rental system for Blockbuster Video.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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