Outrageous Business Plans at Columbia

Columbia Business School has revealed the winners of its Tenth Annual A. Lorne Weil Outrageous Business Plan Competition, in which student teams must present creative, ambitious entrepreneurial ideas deemed “outrageous” in scope and scale.

Fierce competition between this year’s 41 submissions has led to unprecedented ties for both first and second place, the school announced. The title of “Most Outrageous Business Venture” goes to Megan Bordi and her business partner Nate Altschul for Green Panda Games, a safe, free-to-play virtual world and game website for kids and tweens in China; and to Joshua Hecht and business partner Darren Molovinsky for Curtain Call, a program book for Off-Broadway theaters and performing arts venues. Each team won $4,000 to help fund the launch of its business.

Murray Low, director of The Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center, called the competition especially significant because “Entrepreneurism will be an essential component of our current economic recovery process. We are honored to give future entrepreneurs an opportunity to build the skills needed to start their own ventures through this contest and other initiatives at The Eugene Lang Center at Columbia Business School.”

A panel of judges, comprised of executives from venture capital firms as well as several entrepreneurs who developed their own successful ventures while students at Columbia Business School, evaluated the pitches and determined five finalists. The judges rank the participants on four criteria: their ambition, innovation, creativity and persuasiveness.

This year, two teams tied for second place, and one team secured third place:

  • Second Prize ($2,500): Davinder (Bobby) Singh for KashPile.com, a parent-monitored e-commerce site for children that empowers them to receive virtual money for allowances, chores, and gifts online with which they can engage in a safe online shopping experience. Ultimately, the site helps parents build their children’s money management skills.
  • Second Prize ($2,500): Purnima Rachoor, Michelle Nathan, Jeremy Miller for SocialFSA, a for-profit organization dedicated to providing medical and personal care supplies to the less fortunate by pooling excess health care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) funds from anonymous donors.
  • Third Prize ($500): Nicholas Doimi de Frankopan, Ralph Acosta and Andre Berger for Environmix, environmentally-friendly concrete that can be used for large-scale construction projects.

The contest also recognizes the student with the most creative elevator pitch style and content. This year, the “Most Outrageous Elevator Pitch” award, worth $500, went to David McCreery for Catistan, an online social network for cat owners.

To enter the competition, teams comprised of at least one Columbia MBA or EMBA student submit an executive summary of their business plan and tape a two-minute elevator pitch. In the final round of competition, the teams delivered a formal seven minute presentation to the judges and the audience. Based on these presentations, the judges determined the winners.


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