Y. Duo Places 2nd in National Contest

Amy Choate
Deseret Morning News
April 29 2004


Gracing the cover of a Fortune magazine or pocketing a cool quarter-of-a-million dollars to keep your company running smoothly are only dreams for many would be entrepreneurs.

A pair of BYU business students has turned such dreams into reality.

David Bateman and Ben Zimmer won second place over the weekend in the National Institute for Entrepreneurship's Venture Bowl, the largest college business plan competition in the nation, to pocket $250,000 in their latest effort at turning dreams to reality.

The duo made up one of two BYU teams competing among the final 12 that had been culled from an initial field of 300 from the nation's best colleges and universities. The competition included teams from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard Business School and a team with faculty members from Columbia's School of Medicine.

"We were really honored to be there," Zimmer said. "I think at first we were really intimidated, given the degree of the quality of the competition, but it was really an honor to place runner-up."

In addition to their student roles, Bateman and Zimmer are president and vice president respectively of Property Solutions, a company that produces computer software to help landlords manage their property holdings.

The 12 finalist teams traveled to New York to present their business plans to judges from Forbes magazine and various other technical companies. The top four contestants received funding offers from sponsor Carrot Capital, a New York-based venture capital firm.

"We're thrilled with their success," said Joseph Ogden, assistant dean of the Marriott School of Management. "I think it is a reflection of the caliber of students that are coming to BYU. We don't have to do much to help them. They're great students; we just point them in the right direction."

This is not the first time Bateman and Zimmer have won a contest with Property Solutions. Last November the duo took first place in Fortune Small Business magazine's "MBA Showdown." That effort landed their faces on the magazine's cover.

While success just keeps coming, their degrees haven't.

"In five years I hope to sell our company," Bateman said. "Ten years out, I hope to have graduated with a grad degree somewhere."

Bateman needs just 18 credits to complete his bachelor's degree but manages to take only three credits a semester because of his busy schedule running the business. It may take him five more semesters to graduate, but he wouldn't have it any other way. Business is his passion.

"It hasn't been until recently that I realized I've always had this bug," Bateman said. "When I was 13, I had 30 people hire me for lawn maintenance, but I never realized I was an entrepreneur. I just thought, hey, I can make more doing this than anything else."

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