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Business Plans Blow Judges Away, Earn Students and Alums $65,000 in Prizes


SnagTag-Team

The SnagTag’s Jake Elliot, left, and Nicholas Sando present their team project to the judges.

Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, FLA. (April 4, 2014) – New ventures including a mobile application for shopping, a data analytics solution for hospitals to reduce heart failure readmissions, and art deco chocolates that represent South Florida’s cultural mecca have taken top honors in the University of Miami’s 2014 Business Plan Competition, hosted by the  School of Business Administration. The competition winners, honored in an awards ceremony April 4, took home a combined total of $65,000 in prizes.

Jake Elliot, Andrew Rodriguez, and Nicholas Sando won the grand prize and $10,000 in the undergraduate student category for SnagTag, an application for your smartphone that enhances the retail shopping experience by connecting retailers and consumers in a way never seen before.

In the graduate student category, Matt Varghese, Cristina del Toro, Sabrina Taldone, Joshua Cameron took home the Grand Prize and $10,000 for their venture, Valens, which provides a next generation data analytic solutions that allows hospitals to maximize efficiency in reducing heart failure readmissions while improving patients’ lives through better health care delivery systems.

And in the UM alumni category, Lucy Calamari won the Grand Prize and $10,000 for Lucky Lucy’s Chocolates, inspired by the colorful flavors and cultures of South Florida.  Her chocolates reflect colorful retro designs of the city’s Art Deco movement.

“This year’s young entrepreneurs came to the competition with an extraordinary mix of great business ideas,” said Isaias Sudit, CEO and founder of TROVE and one of the Competition judges. “It is clear to this panel of judges how these winners are ready to go beyond the idea stage and truly execute.  They will be exciting to watch and we are happy to send them on their way with some funding.”

Second place in the undergraduate category and $5,000 went to Paola Campodonico and Austin Zaslow for The Nest, a recovery center that accommodates prenatal and postpartum women, and post-surgical patients and offers 24/7 nannies, breastfeeding support, and other services to make recovery faster and easier. Second place in the graduate category and $5,000 went to Joe Bucciero of AdMoney, a mobile phone application that places ads on the background of a smartphones or tablet lock screens  for a monthly fee.  Second place in the alumni category and $5,000 went to Alex Suma of Ibis Power, which offers customized solutions for local renewable energy generation that overcomes all downsides of current technologies. It is almost ready to enter the U.S. and European markets.

Third place in the undergraduate category with a $2,500 prize went to Sultan Saleh Alghamdi for Central Express Laundry, a full-service laundry business in Saudi Arabia. Third place and $2,500 in the graduate category went to Rodolfo Hernandez for The Quiet American, a sustainable men’s luxury-yet-affordable clothing brand made of Alpaca wool; third place and $2,500 in the alumni category went to Thien Van Tran for Leash, an electronic security company that provides both hardware and software solutions to remedy the rise of smartphone theft.

“The judges were blown away by the caliber of ideas presented by the University of Miami entrepreneurs,” said Susy Alvarez-Diaz, director of entrepreneurship programs at the UM School of Business. “They have no doubt we will be hearing more about these companies as we have others that have grown out of our past competitions.”

In addition to the undergraduate, graduate and alumni category prizes, the Paul K. Sugrue Entrepreneurial Spirit Award and $2,500 was presented to Sidonia Swarm of On Demand Dietician, which streamlines access to dieticians for corporate employees. Also, four Heffner Internship Awards of $2,500 each were awarded to Maxim Bjelos, Alex Cantwell, Joey Lopez, and Kenthia Farmer.

The Business Plan Competition started last fall when 42 concept papers were submitted to the judging committee. Ultimately 16 semifinalists were selected to present to the judges April 1-3, with the winners named the following day. The judges included roughly one dozen successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists from South Florida and Latin America.

Now in its 12th year, the Business Plan Competition is open to all University of Miami students and alumni. Past winners  have gone on to build their ventures into businesses that have garnered national attention. They include such companies as College Hunks Hauling Junk and My Therapy Journal.com, both of which have been featured on ABC Television’s “Shark Tank,” a reality program in which entrepreneurs share their business ideas with a group of five self-made millionaires in hopes of getting venture capital to help them attain similar levels of success.

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Leonard Turkel Nonprofit Network Workshop Series: ‘Supercharge Your Social Media and Email Marketing’


Learn how to build a high-impact nonprofit at the next workshop, “Supercharge Your Social Media and Email Marketing,” in the Networked Nonprofit Workshop Series. The workshop will take place on Wednesday, April 16, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Newman Alumni Center, 6200 San Amaro Drive, Coral Gables.

Hosted by the Leonard Turkel Nonprofit Network and the University of Miami’s Schools of Business Administration and Education and Human Development, this workshop will feature Alex de Carvalho, Constant Contact’s educational marketing expert and regional director for South Florida.

De Carvalho has more than 20 years’ experience in marketing and development, as a startup entrepreneur, a university professor, and an author. He will cover best practices and winning strategies for finding and keeping subscribers, increasing engagement and deliverability rates, writing good subject lines and content, getting readers to take action, and becoming a trusted source.

Participants will learn how to make it easy for readers to share their messages on social media, act on initiatives, and measure results.

Register now to reserve a space. The fee is $25 payable by credit card or check at the door. Scholarships are available for individuals and organizations. Contact Kristine Singer at KristineS@CatalystMiami.org or 305-576-5001, ext. 12 for more information.

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Business Master’s Programs Begin in the Fall—Learn More April 1 and 2


The School of Business Administration offers one-year master’s programs in accounting (full-time and accelerated), business analytics, economics, finance, international business, leadership, and taxation. Learn more at one of the school’s next information sessions on Tuesday, April 1, at 5 p.m. at the Toppel Career Center and Wednesday, April 2, at 12:45 p.m. and 2 p.m. at the School of Business Administration, room 431. Lunch will be provided at both afternoon sessions on April 2.

To register for one of the sessions, visit www.bus.miami.edu/graduateprograms.

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Business Master’s Programs Begin in the Fall–Learn More March 22


The School of Business Administration offers one-year master’s programs in accounting (full-time and accelerated), business analytics, economics, finance, international business, leadership, and taxation. Classes begin Fall 2014. Learn more at the school’s next MBA for a Day event at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 22 at the Newman Alumni Center, 6200 San Amaro Drive, Coral Gables. To register for the event, visit www.bus.miami.edu/graduateprograms.

 

 

 

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Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Program: UM Employee Discount Available


The UM School of Business Administration is offering a special tuition of $2,680 to UM employees for the upcoming Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification program. Classes start on March 21 and are spread over four consecutive weekends. Thirty hours of classroom work, independent study, and a passing mark on the exam are required for certification.

The program is held at the School of Business Administration. The deadline to apply is March 14.  UM employees are encouraged to apply as soon as possible due to limited seats available.  To apply and for more information, visit www.bus.miami.edu/greenbelt, email ExecEd@bus.miami.edu, or call 305-284-1354.

 

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