April 18, 2011
George Washington University hosted its annual Business Plan Competition Finals on Thursday and Friday of this past week. The event was a two-day culmination of an academic, year-long series of events and active mentorship on new venture creation. A record 112 teams entered this year’s competition but only eight made it to the Finals. The eight semi-finalists presented their business plans on Thursday to a panel of distinguished entrepreneurs and venture capital investors who are affiliated with the university. By Friday, there were only four teams left competing for the grand prize.
Although all presentations were very well done, only four were selected to compete for the top four spots on Friday. The finalists were Bookstore Genie, Lead Driver, Leafworks and Ascend Air.
The grand prize winner of $25,000.00 was the Lead Driver team. Lead Driver is a product that helps car dealers sell their inventory faster by creating branded content for their dealership, the car and the customer. They believe they can create a trusted sales experience for the customer and that will ultimately reduce the decision making time and help sell cars faster. Team members Anthony Shop, Daniel Zaslavsky, Thomas Sanchez and David Raffel delivered a very energetic and compelling presentation that seemed to win over both sets of judges. The team has a diverse professional background that includes experience in car dealerships, software and entrepreneurship. It is currently being used at five dealerships in Kansas City, Mo.
The second place prize of $10,000.00 was awarded to Bookstore Genie, which was presented by Farhan Daredi, a GW undergrad student. Bookstore Genie is an online service that sells used books at a cheaper rate than all its current competitors. By using the Fulfillment by Amazon service, Mr. Daredi has found a way to offer a lower rate for used textbooks than anywhere else. With a textbook market of about $7.4 billion and the average rate of textbooks rising annually at about 6.9%, it’s nice to know that someone is finding a way to make them cheaper. Mr. Daredi also won best undergrad team, which awarded him with another $10,000.00, so he walked away with a total of $20,000.00.
Leafworks won the third place prize of $4,000.00. Lead by team members Jason Hirama and Anchal Bassi, Leafworks strives to create sustainable flatware that is biodegradable and made from leaves. With a global market that is ready to adopt a green lifestyle, Leafworks provides a very functional and sustainable alternative to disposable plates.
The Ascend Air team won fourth place and took home $1,000.00 in prize money. Presented by Ryan Rice and Peter Buckley, Ascend Air is a lavish skyship service that transports people within the Washington, D.C. metro region. It is intended for wealthy suburb dwellers that are looking for a faster commute into the city but don’t want to pay the astronomical prices that come with a helicopter ride.
Special note, the GW Business Plan competition was sponsored by Annette and Rick Scott.
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