MSTC Teams Win Clean Energy, 1st Runner-Up Prizes at Venture Labs Competition
Visolis, a student-run company from the Indian School of Business, beat 39 teams from top graduate programs around the world to claim the grand prize at the 30th annual Global Venture Labs Investment Competition (GVLIC) at The University of Texas at Austin on Saturday, May 4. Visolis is developing the next generation of biocatalysts that can convert renewable feedstocks into chemicals and fuels at a price point competitive with petroleum-based processes.
The first runners-up of this year’s competition were Dan Kleinbaum and Luke Kyohere, graduate students from the Texas Master of Science in Technology Commercialization program whose startup, Beyonic Technologies, has developed a mobile payment platform for use in the developing world. (Read our commencement spotlight on Kyohere.)
Seismos, founded by Texas MSTC students Panos Adamopoulos, Omar Hernandez, Stevan Slusher, and Devin Bedwell won the $20,000 Wells Fargo Clean Energy prize. Seismos provides real-time measurements of oil and gas flows for enhanced oil recovery. The Wells Fargo Clean Energy track was part of the competition for a second year, with enhanced prize money this year thanks to Wells Fargo’s increased commitment and funding to Texas Venture Labs.
Seismos also won first place in February’s Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition, as well as first-place awards in clean energy and cleantech tracks in the Shell Venture Technologies track at the Rice Business Plan Competition at Rice University in Houston. They continued their winning streak by picking up the clean-tech and energy awards, as well as an overall second-place award, at the University of California Haas School of Business investment competition in Berkeley.
Altogether, Seismos has won more than $45,000 in cash and about $100,000 in services and non-cash awards this competition season, said team member Panos Adamopoulos. “This is all thanks to the MSTC program,” he said. “We thank all the McCombs faculty and people who have been of such great help.”
This year’s GVLIC had an especially strong international presence. Eleven countries were represented, and 40 percent of the competing teams came from schools outside the United States.
“We had a true global final this year, with two of the four teams in the finals coming from outside the U.S.,” said GVLIC Director Robert Warren. “Visolis did an excellent job presenting their venture and responding to the judges’ questions, and we are excited they are the 2013 Venture Labs Investment Competition’s Global Champion.”
The Visolis team, Akshat Pipersenia, Amrita Dutta, Aditya Jain, Ashish Kohli, and Deepak Dugar, won a $75,000 package including office space, mentoring and consulting at the Austin Technology Incubator, consulting with the McCombs School of Business entrepreneurship faculty and $25,000 cash. The winning team will also ring the closing bell at the Nasdaq OMX Stock Exchange on June 11.
Rounding out the finals were AGcerez from the Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration in Thailand, and BriteSeed from Northwestern University in Illinois. AGcerez produces L’amai, the world’s first longan-extracted probiotic sweetener. Team members are Peera Sopitpongstorn, Waannasiri Aramwattananont,Danusorn Sitdhirasdr, Suchai Buranavalahok, and Surasit Sachdev. BriteSeed offers SafeSnips, a patent-pending technology that integrates with minimally invasive surgical tools to prevent accidental cuts into blood vessels. Team members are Paul Fehrenbacher and Jonathan Gunn.
The Global Venture Labs Investment Competition simulates the real-world process of raising venture capital. It is a unique partnership that brings together graduate students and business leaders. The judges function as an investment group seeking to reach consensus on the business venture they would most likely fund. The quality of the idea, the strength of the management team and the clarity and persuasiveness of the written plan and oral presentation all influence the judges’ decisions.
Begun as “Moot Corp” at The University of Texas at Austin by MBA students in 1984, the Venture Labs Investment Competition is the oldest new venture competition in the world, and it provides graduate students with a chance to simulate the real-world process of raising venture capital.
The competition was sponsored by Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs, an interdisciplinary education and research initiative. The Texas Venture Labs promotes new venture creation at The University of Texas at Austin through education and mentoring, market and business plan validation, team-building and networking, and direct links to resources and funding.