UMass Boston Student-run Startups Compete for Money, Expert Help in Launching Businesses
May 05, 2011
Office of Communications
A live, professional networking website. An eco-friendly wave-riding experience.
These are just two of the dozen student-based startup companies competing in the first ever Business Launch Competition hosted by the College of Management's Entrepreneurship Center.
The top three will earn money toward their businesses and receive three months of access to UMass Boston’s Venture Development Center (VDC) and its staff. The grand prize winner will be awarded $2,500 in cash, a legal consulting package from K&L Gates valued at $10,000, and three months of access to the VDC.
The student-run startups have been working to grow their businesses since the competition started in March. Along the way, seasoned entrepreneurs at the VDC were available to provide assistance.
Dan Phillips, director of the Entrepreneurship Center and the VDC’s entrepreneur-in-residence, said the 12 student startups have made tremendous progress in just two months.
“The Entrepreneurship Center has been able to help with workshops, mentorship, and a start-up launch process,” Phillips says. “At UMass Boston, we don't launch business plans, we launch businesses."
On Wednesday, May 11 at 4:30 p.m., the six finalists will make their final presentations in the VDC and awards will be handed out. Winners are selected for the progress they’ve achieved and the viability of their businesses.
Sourav Srimal, who is graduating in June with an MBA in finance, will present on the Boston Professional Organization (BPO), a live, professional networking organization he cofounded with Febian Shah in September 2010. The BPO helps members find jobs, connect with other professionals, and locate business opportunities, offering them free membership and access to networking, social, and cultural events, career fairs, vendor discounts, and event planning services.
Srimal says he decided to get involved with this process to understand the viability of his business, to learn how he can make money out of a hobby, and to be mentored by the best in the industry.
“Winning an award will help me get legal counsel that I currently cannot afford, it will give me much needed office space, and last but not least, any kind of cash benefit is always welcome,” Srimal says.
Michael Emery, a management major, expects to graduate in the spring of 2012. He and his partner Kevin Schoenthaler met in an entrepreneurship class in the fall of 2008. Their company, Sigma Surf Research, uses recycled and bio-derived materials to create a surfboard with substantially less environmental impact than the industry standard.
Emery says this competition is the perfect opportunity to take an idea and make it a real, live business.
Emery says since starting the competition he has created network connections with more than 25 companies across the country, produced a high quality, environmentally-friendly prototype, teamed up with a master surfboard shaper, and created a Facebook fan page with more than 350 “likes.”
“We have made previously inconceivable progress; we are doing things now that we thought would take several years. It has literally been a dream come true,” Emery says.
Emery says the $2,500 grand prize would pay for the cost of eight surfboards and would help launch a website and social marketing campaign.
“Ten thousand dollars of legal consultation would cover the start-up costs of becoming a legal entity, such as the tax ID, charter, operating agreement, and liability insurance. It would allow us to ‘go live,’ and begin taking our first orders over the summer. That would be incredible!” Emery says.
Srimal is hoping that other students will be able to participate in this competition in the future.
“UMass Boston should organize this kind of business competition at least once a year,” he says. “This not only showcases the talent of the school but also encourages its students to think out of the box and go that extra mile.”