Business plan competition taken by property management software

Emily Haleck
Daily Universe
April 9 2003

BYU's Business Plan Competition culminated Friday April 4 with one team taking home the grand prize of $50,000 to put toward the implementation of its new business.

Property Solutions, the winning team, developed a Web-based integrated software solution for property management companies that allows tenants to pay rent online, submit maintenance requests and enhance overall management efficiency. After evaluations were made by 32 judges, most of whom were successful venture capitalists, Property Solutions was awarded the grand prize of $25,000 cash and $25,000 in in-kind services.

"We were really hoping for the financing, and it will be wonderful to help push the business along and to accomplish the goals that we planned," said Jordan Jones, a senior developer for Property Solutions. "The competition was so stiff - there are people who are worth billions and billions of dollars who had a really hard time narrowing it down from nine to four, and to think that we were able to make it. It's wonderful, considering the competition that we had."

The toughest competition came from the team MyCarnivore headed by Brian Hanrahan. A supplier of carnivorous plants, MyCarnivore offers a unique alternative to traditional pets. Hanrahan said carnivorous plants are an interactive, entertaining and fun pet for families.

"Regular pets are too expensive and are hard to take care of," Hanrahan said. "But these require low attention levels - and they keep the house clean by catching flies!"

MyCarnivore received the second-place prize of $10,000 cash and $18,000 in in-kind services.

Kevin Barlow, a 22-year-old chemical engineering major from Alpine, is part of the MyCarnivore team and expressed his feelings on coming out second.

"We're a little disappointed," Barlow said. "We've got a lot of potential, and we're still planning on going through with it."

Two teams tied for third, each winning a total of $15,000 in prize money and services. The teams were Dierevo, a company developing technology to take wood residue from paper mills and convert it into a renewable transportation fuel, and StrollerWorks, a team devoted to providing innovative product solutions for families with children, including the first reversible stroller.

Michael Hennessy, a first-year graduate student and director of judging, said judges were phenomenally impressed with the quality of plans and presentations.

"What they saw here was better than some things they see in their offices as venture capitalists," Hennessy said.

These judges represented more than $1 billion in venture capital, Hennessy said.

As the Business Plan Competition is in its 12th year, Hennessy said this year's prize money is the most the competition has ever seen, making it one of the largest in the country.

"Fortune small magazine actually called us and said they've been looking at us," Hennessy said. "They said, 'We think yours is one of the top in the country and we want the winner to compete against others in the country.'"

Dave Coltrin, second-year MBA student and associate director of the Business Plan Competition, said the competition has grown to rival top competitions in the country, including MIT and other prestigious schools.

"That's based on quality and prizes," Coltrin said. "Last year, we had $52,000 in prizes and this year we have $120,000. This allows more resources, or students to work with students, mentors and venture capitalists."

When he heard of BYU's prestigious rankings, Jones realized the opportunity he and his team of Property Solutions had.

"I thought, 'What an awesome standard that all these other universities have to look up to.' And I guess now it's our responsibility to carry that standard out, which I hope we can do," Jones said.

That is the goal of the Business Plan Competition, said director Steve Arner.

"Ultimately, our biggest compliment is if the winning businesses become viable businesses in the future," Arner said. "That means we did our job."

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