Business Competition Rewards Best Ideas, Not Just Fastest Pitches

Great ideas and business savvy were rewarded April 28 at the annual Deans’ Business Competition & Mobile Game Competition, a high-stakes pitch contest for current and prospective Mason entrepreneurs and innovators.

Current Mason students as well as recent alumni are eligible to compete in three categories: traditional, mobile game, and social impact. This year’s competition attracted a record 47 entries, with finalists delivering a four-minute pitch for their idea in front of an audience of about one hundred. Teams then answered tough questions from panels of judges drawn from the ranks of entrepreneurs and investors in the region—many with ties to Mason.

Top prize for the day went to AirPosted, a start-up that provides a peer-to-peer platform for low-cost overseas shipping. Co-founded by Rayan Rahman, a senior management major from Bangladesh, and his cousin Raisa Rahman, AirPosted launched in early 2017 and currently has handled more than 1,000 transactions. The team won a $10,000 cash prize made possible by a generous donation from fellow Patriot Marilyn Jackson, BS Management ’11.

Second place, and $5,000, went to TravelWeb, an iPhone app developed by Cody Lucas that lets travelers create a map-based digital scrapbook of their journeys. Lucas, an undergraduate in the School of Business, plans to complete the prototype this summer. TravelWeb also won an additional $1,000 for the Audience Choice award.

The winner of the Mobile Game competition was One More Room, a game that requires users to solve puzzles of increasing complexity to escape from one digital room to the next. Computer game design major Scott Martin will receive development assistance at the Virginia Serious Games Institute (VSGI) valued at $10,000 to work on his game this summer.

Frankie’s Backyard Adventure, a concept by Amber Harlow, placed second. Harlow’s game is aimed at children ages 3-6, allowing them to creatively dress up virtual characters depending on the weather. Also a computer game design major, Harlow won $5,000 worth of development assistance at the VSGI.

In the social impact category, the winner of the Lynn Alexis Lee Corey Prize for Social Entrepreneurship, with its accompanying $5,000 award, was Home Again. Created by Ibrahim Pashaei BS Health, Fitness & Recreational Resources ’15, the owner of Manassas-based Northern Virginia Landscaping, Home Again supports veterans who are struggling with PTSD by providing them employment in the landscaping industry and a stable place to live. Home Again also won the $500 Audience Choice award.

An app aimed at providing practical help in math education, Math-ish, won the $2,500 second place award. Math-ish is created by the team of Jessica Pic, a PhD candidate in the College of Education and Human Development, Kimberlie Fair MED Curriculum and Instruction ’15, and Matthew Randon MED Curriculum and Instruction ’16.

Sumeet Shrivastava, president of the School of Business Alumni Chapter Board of Directors, explained why competitions such as this matter. “The students get practice on how to pitch to potential investors. They also get the opportunity to fail. That’s incredibly valuable early in your career as a life lesson,” said Shrivastava. “It might not be this business idea that catches fire for them; it might be their next one. But they are learning what a venture capitalist is looking for and what kind of questions to be ready to answer.” Shrivastava is President and CEO of ARRAY, a leading IT service provider to the aerospace and defense market.

Organized by the School of Business’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the event was held at MakeOffices, a co-working office space in Arlington, Virginia that is a local hub for startups and entrepreneurs.

May 8, 2017 / RR

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