BYU Students Win MBA Business Competition

Julene Thompson
The Daily Herald
October 31 2003

A trio of Brigham Young University undergraduates won a national MBA business plan competition against 49 top business schools across the country and accepted their award in New York City on Thursday.

As winners of the Fortune Small Business Magazine's business plan competition, against schools such as Harvard, Stanford, and the University of California at Berkeley, the three will take home $50,000 for their business and are coverboys on November's issue of FSB delivered to newsstands nationwide.

"It's almost surreal," said David Bateman, president and CEO of Property Solutions International Inc. and a senior majoring in business administration, who also founded another Web-based company, "Over a million have the magazine mailed to them each month. It's pretty crazy."

Benjamin Zimmer, executive vice president of the company and an English major who just graduated, said, "It was incredible. We were grateful just to be in the top three, but this is something we would have never imagined."

Bateman's business idea came a little each night when his wife, an assistant manager at a property management company in Provo, would complain about how she would often spend five nights a month processing rent payments and maintenance requests on paper ledgers.

So after months of planning to solve the problem with partners Zimmer and Michael Trionfo, a senior studying electrical engineering, Property Solutions was born.

The group entered and won BYU's annual business-plan competition against 97 groups in April, which qualified them for the Fortune "MBA showdown" -- even though they weren't in a masters program.

The business makes Web-based software that allows tenants to make rent payments and request repairs online. The software also provides tours of the housing units with interior and exterior photographs, Zimmer said.

In its first three months the Provo business, with 30 full-time employees, won substantial sales.

"The industry that we're in is very slow in technology," Bateman said. "We just hit it at the right time."

Their software is already in operation at properties in Utah, Idaho and Texas. Complexes like Glenwood, Raintree, the Riviera and Cambridge Court and Centennial apartments use the software locally, he said.

Property Solutions' founders see the company moving internationally in the near future, but for right now there is plenty to do locally, Bateman said.

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