BYU Undergraduates Win $250K in Business Competition

Grant Madsen
Brigham Young University External Relations
April 27 2004

Brigham Young University undergraduate startup Property Solutions won $250,000 in funding from the National Institute for Entrepreneurship's Venture Bowl, the nation's largest college business plan competition.

Despite their undergraduate status, the BYU team placed first runner-up among more than 300 competing teams from graduate and doctoral programs nationwide.

In October the team won $50,000 as first-place finishers in Fortune Small Business Magazine's first "MBA Showdown."

Property Solutions representatives David Bateman and Benjamin Zimmer received the new award Saturday at two special ceremonies at Forbes Magazine headquarters and HSBC Bank headquarters in New York City.

"Placing first runner-up among such amazing competition was incredible. The $250,000 prize money is also very exciting," said David Bateman, current BYU student and president of Property Solutions. "For the last 12 months we've been almost entirely focused on software development, but now we will have an additional budget for really marketing the software."

Harvard MBA graduate team Lean Forward Media placed first. Other finalists included third-place Robotic Surgical Tech, founded by faculty members at Columbia's School of Medicine, and fourth-place TulipMed, a joint venture between MIT's doctoral engineering program and Harvard's School of Medicine.

This year's top-12 Venture Bowl finalists included two student teams from BYU. The second BYU team, Shaggy Bag, is a swiftly growing furniture company which sells an alternative form of furniture bags filled with shredded foam, designed to conform directly to the body.

Only the top four finishing teams, however, received funding offers from sponsor Carrot Capital, a New York-based venture capital firm.

Other than BYU, only two schools -- MIT and Harvard sent two teams to this year's finals. "Even as we were receiving the business plan submissions, we could see BYU business plans coming from a mile away. They just looked different," said David Geliebter, managing partner of Carrot Capital, a New York-based venture capital firm that helped sponsor the competition.

Property Solutions' software, called Resident Works, is an innovative new technology for the management of multifamily housing. Resident Works allows apartment residents to pay rent online, process maintenance requests or submit online applications through an individual apartment community Web site. Once residents submit information, all information is automatically entered into the property management software.

The company currently has clients in Utah, Idaho, California, Nevada and Texas. Its largest client, Triton Investments, manages approximately 3,000 units.

BYU student entrepreneurs have recently made a big impact on the national entrepreneurial landscape. Within the last year, BYU teams have placed first in the Thunderbird Innovation Challenge, Fortune's National MBA Showdown and the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge.

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