From special correspondent – Mark T Wayne
Five minutes, a marker, and a whiteboard. That’s all you get with this jaded crowd of critics, skeptics and swarming humanity.
You’ve come here to bare the greatest idea of your life and all the dreams that go with it. You competed for a chance at this grueling event against near a hundred early-stage teams. You’re one of only ten to make the finals.
Now they give the signal and you start like a runner off the blocks. And when your five minutes are up, it’s “NEXT!” No excuse will answer, sir! You are not permitted to utter another word so you sit down to bite your nails.
I can barely credit how fast ten contenders go by without a break in the action. .
This is the main event for the MIT Enterprise Forum, Chicago. No tricked out slide show or video allowed here. You must draw while you talk. The whiteboard is blank and indeed frightening to behold.
You swallow your fear and draw stick figures, perhaps, with a fat electronic pen. Another device projects your illegible scrawl onto a big video monitor so the WHOLE crowd can watch you make a fool of yourself. And use it you must—oh yes, you can’t ignore the whiteboard. It’s the only tool you get to express your idea, besides flapping your jaw.
I see you fidget and turn pale like some of the other folk as you try to explain your complex technology to a disgruntled audience of frowning faces while under the gun of the timer. Was that a nervous tick I just saw? Control yourself, sir!
This ain’t the typical pitch contest. You competed with scores of other teams on the value and marketability of your idea. That means all ten of you show up here tonight with something worthwhile. Now you get judged again on merit, but also on communication and use of the whiteboard.
Why do you do it? It’s not the $3,000 first prize—that only amounts to party money. No, the real goal is exposure. A chance to round up some angel capital from those sitting among this distinguished crowd and maybe push your idea to the next level. That and the simple satisfaction of coming out on top.
MITEF Chicago has been putting on this competition for some time. I consider it a premier event. To give you the flavor of it, here is a wonderful short video created in a previous season:
This Year’s Winners
SIRAGO— Deniz Alpay—First Place
Unfortunate patients are going straight from Stage 1 to Stage 4 cancer right in the hospital as a direct result of an innocuous and ubiquitous procedure called the biopsy. The problem is rampant in some cancers.
Gentlemen take note: If the oncologist suspects testicular cancer, no biopsy will be done. No sir! The surgeon removes the offending testicles forthwith! This is execrable sir! I wince to hear such words!
Breast cancer is yet another prevalent victim to this culprit. But whatever the cancer, it happens in three ways:
- When removing the biopsy needle, infected tissue gets dragged away from the site.
- Sometimes infection spreads through the hole left by the needle.
- At other times, the infection enters the bloodstream directly because of the needle wound.
Ugh! Horrible stuff! Ought not to be allowed! Could it be that a patient stands a chance of living longer without any test whatsoever?
Pay close attention because the numbers do not favor you. 12.5 million Americans have cancer right now—and that’s expected to rise dramatically. During the span of a lifetime we are talking about one in every two men—one in every three women. I look around the room and wonder—does any man here still have the stones to remedy this injustice?
The young lady draws a clear picture on the whiteboard and presents a solution. It is a hollow needle. An agent is pumped into the needle to plug the opening. Then the biopsy needle follows. When the biopsy is extracted, any unwanted tissue cannot pass the plug.
I let out a lungful of air. Whew! Such a simple solution. And having seen it described so well, there is no doubt in my mind that it will turn the trick. Something so easily incorporated into existing procedures will likely be widely adopted. In fact, hospitals already exhibit interest.
This young lady is articulate with an excellent command of the white board. I believe she well deserves her First Place finish. I vote for this one myself.
Later while writing my notes, it occurs to me to research the name Sirago. I find some interesting imagery here and wonder if it is intentional. Sirago is the namesake of a 1946 WWII American attack submarine that destroyed two German submarines. This is a boat that survived two major surgeries. It was modernized in 1949 and again in 1962, after which it continued operations until 1972—a good long life for a weapon of war. I see it lancing through the waves in triumph. I let you draw your own mental image.
COUP $ITY— David Hazan—Second Place – (It’s pronounce it “koop city.”)
This is a free mobile game concept where players generate coupons that increase in value based on game play. You must play the game to earn the reward. That is significant!
I am known to play a game of Whist or Poker. I imagine myself, ordinarily reluctant to fool with coupons, now proudly presenting my prized ticket to the cashier with a flourish and a knowing smile. The coupon displays right on my smartphone and I keep that contraption in the pocket of my white vest.
There can be no doubt that a market exists. The Mobile App industry has grown from zero in 2007 to 25 billion today and game-based advertising is popular.
David came with his own enthusiastic cheering section, which never hurts.
TRIBAL SCIENCE—Mike Vasquez—Third Place
Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that you’re one of that peculiar brand of lunatic that lifts weights, hurdles down icy ski slopes, or performs tricks on a snowboard or skateboard. Now you can read precise statistics fed right to your smartphone. Why would you want to do that? It turns out there are a number of rational reasons:
- You can improve your performance.
- You can quantify what you did and compare it to other lunatics.
- You can hold yourself accountable to another person—preferably your psychiatrist or surgeon.
- You can directly compete with like-minded individuals in far-away places who also have Rip Chips installed on their devices of doom.
I have to admit, this may change the way athletes compete, play, share, and train. We are looking here at 50 million potential users. .
EATERIA— Ola Ayeni—The Mark T Wayne Business Award
All but one of the ten offerings have yet to go beyond the IDEA stage and form a REAL business. Therefore it is my duty to offer my own award. I hearby select Eateria, a company that helps restaurants induce people to come back and eat more food at their particular establishment. And they do it without weapons! Look at this ultra-professional video:
You will find six more videos posted on the Eateria website. They leave no doubt how this offering works.
And they’re already generating press.
Notes & Links
Judges – This is an intimidating bunch if I ever saw one:
M&J Acquisitions Moises6@comcast.net
(He flew in from Amsterdam for the event.)
Yes, the audience votes too.
MODERATOR – Nancy Munro of KnowledgeShift pulls off this event with her usual aplomb. She’s the Chapter President of the MIT Enterprise Forum, Chicago. And it ain’t at all boring for this old man to watch her erase the whiteboard ten times, either.
LOCATION – This is taking place at a hotbed of innovation, TechNexus, the home of the Illionois Technology Forum. The law firm of Ungaretti & Harris is also a sponsor. Quartet IdeaShare makes the slick infrared and ultrasound whiteboard display tool that’s helping with all this suffering tonight.
THE TOP TEN COMBATANTS in alphabetical order:
- Coup $ity—David Hazan—Gamification of mobile app coupons. email@example.com
- Data-Driven Talent—Chris Motley—The eHarmony of talent acquisition. firstname.lastname@example.org www.betterweekdays.com
- Dream Stream—Rich Seng—Breaking the viscous cycle of poverty. email@example.com
- Eateria—Ola Ayeni—Helping restaurants drive repeat business. firstname.lastname@example.org www.eateria.co www.myeateria.com
- Language Assisted Medical—Ray Arias—Eliminating the language barrier in health care. email@example.com
- LoCANOPY—Chris Chon—The first plant store for Generation Y. firstname.lastname@example.org
- MyoMotive—Christopher Jones—Human actuated prosthesis. CJones.IIT@gmail.com
- Sirago—Deniz Alpay—Safe biopsy technology. email@example.com
- Tribal Science—Mike Vasquez—Monitoring athletics for training and competition. firstname.lastname@example.org
- Wearable Tech, aka Shockatoo—Paul Laporte—Electronic public expression for introverts. email@example.com
The USS Sirago (SS-485) attack submarine from Wikipedia.
Photography Courtesy of: MITEF Chicago, Steve Smith, Moises Goldman, David Brown, Jed Abernethy, Nancy Munro, Mike Vasquez, Eateria, Wikipedia.
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