Graduate Business Students Compete for $10,000 Prize
Competition prepares HBCU students for international event
By Renita Mathis
Gusto’s Gaming and Grille and Miss Lou Sweet Potato Chips might have eye-catching names, but they were not enough to capture the attention of the judges at the OFC Venture Challenge last month in Atlanta. Instead, it was the dramatic presentation of Data Solutions Systems by Bowie State University that claimed the coveted $10,000 prize in the Fourth Annual Business Plan Competition for historically Black colleges and universities.
Sponsored by the Opportunity Funding Corp. and hosted by Clark Atlanta University, the annual competition involves HBCUs with graduate business programs, giving their students a chance to strut their entrepreneurial stuff.
Bowie’s plan for high-tech equipment that tracks a diabetic’s blood sugar level and coordinates medical intervention for hyper- or hypoglycemic incidents not only grabbed first place, but also won the award for Outstanding Presentation.
“The Bowie team with the diabetic locator business plan captured the imagination and emotion of (the) judges,” said Colin S. Brady, a judge and president/CEO of Atlanta-based Pinnacle Partners International, a management consultant for small and start-up companies.
During the presentation, Bowie team leader Kwabena Asomani, who is diabetic, presented his diabetic infusion pump before the judges and explained how their technology would better assist diabetics. A not-just-for-class plan, the Bowie team is actually seeking the $1 million capital to create the DSS diabetic tracking system. Other members of the team include Shaun Lee, Troy Brockett and Satiah Pee. They are all seeking master’s degrees in management information systems, a program in Bowie’s business school.
“I did not want them to develop the business plan just for academic purposes,” said Dr. David Anyiwo, the team’s adviser and professor of management information systems. “We must truly teach our students to create their own because the job market is not very promising, and you cannot get rich or create wealth by working for somebody.”
Of the 24 HBCUs with graduate business programs, 20 were represented. OFC developed the venture challenge in 2001 so the schools could prepare to compete in the annual international Moot Corp., sponsored by the University of Texas-Austin, where business schools from all around the world and the United States come with their best plans to compete for $100,000.
“Without the OFC, HBCUs would not be able to participate in the Moot Corp. competition, and prior to that HBCUs were not participating,” said Dr. Mathias Mbah, chairman and interim dean of the School of Business at Bowie. “The number of the teams at the OFC competition is increasing every year, and we learn more and more with each visit to the competition.”
In addition to Bowie’s first-place win of $10,000, Fayetteville State University and its video conferencing technology plan won second place and $5,000, as well as the award for Outstanding Business Plan. The University of West Indies won third place and $3,000 for its public transportation technology; North Carolina A&T State University won fourth place and $2,000 for restaurant menu-ordering technology; Florida A&M University won fifth place with its employee-scheduling software; and North Carolina Central University won sixth place with its lab kits and packs that reduce errors and time in lab results. Those two teams received $1,000 each. Each team splits their winnings among its members.
“This competition was a great success and has witnessed a marked improvement over the past four years,” said Dr. Mohammad Bhuiyan, OFC Venture Challenge director and associate professor of management at Clark Atlanta University. “Competing schools have gone from seven to 20, and we had no sponsors except OFC the first year. This year we had 25 sponsors, and next year all 24 HBCU graduate business schools will be competing.”
Besides the competition, OFC also offers the HBCU Dean/Faculty Development Seminar that features methods on developing good entrepreneurship programs by the nation’s leading business scholars.
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