BYU Student Company Wins First Runner-Up
May 6 2004
Property Solutions, a BYU undergraduate startup company, was awarded first runner-up and $250,000 from the National Institute of Entrepreneurship's Venture Bowl 2004 in New York.
Over 300 teams submitted business plans for the competition, which were then narrowed down to 12. The 12 teams flew to New York to present their plans to a panel of judges. The teams consisted of graduate and doctorial students from around the country, including students from Harvard and Columbia's School of Medicine.
"Many of the teams had 45-year-old professors with one student on the project," said David Bateman, a senior majoring in business management and President of Property Solutions. "We didn't think we had a prayer."
According to Bateman, Carrot Capital, a New York-based venture capital firm, offered $500 to cover each team's expenses and to fly them to New York in order to present their plans to a panel of judges.
"There were three panels of judges and each team presented to one panel," Bateman said. "The presentations were recorded and taped, and the judges lobbied for the teams they thought were the best."
The team presentations before the judges took place the morning of April 24. Awards were presented later that evening during ceremonies in the Forbes Magazines headquarters as well as at the HSBC headquarters in New York.
Property Solutions started up in January 2003 and developed software called "Resident Works," a program designed to aid property managers in organizing the way they work with their residents.
"Resident Works is an innovative new structure," said Ben Zimmer, BYU graduate and co-founder of Property Solutions. "Instead of the property manager having to input everything in (the computer) themselves, we have what is called the 'resident portal' where the residents themselves go online and interact directly with the property manager. They can pay rent, submit maintenance requests, or submit online applications."
With the completion of the software, plans for spending the prize money are currently in the works.
"We spent last year almost entirely on developing the software and our marketing was limited. We finished the software and now we can take our marketing to another level," Zimmer said.
Now that startup funds are available, the team can concentrate on marketing tactics that are more expensive and reach a larger target audience.
"Primarily the funds will be used to place ads in industry magazines in order to get our name out," Bateman said.
Despite winning $250,000 and placing first-runner up in the competition, the most eventful part of the trip according to Bateman was when they were almost mugged the night they arrived in New York.
"We were staying with an old roommate in Harlem to save money and took the subway from the airport," Bateman said. "We arrived in Harlem around 2:30 a.m. and had all of our luggage with us. We were wandering around looking for our roommate's apartment and were accosted by several different guys."