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MIT WHITEBOARD CHALLENGE

Mark T Wayne BOTTOMJohn Jonelis

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. .

Whiteboard Competitor

The Competition

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. AnotherMITEF logo 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!

Mark T WayneThis 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:

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This Year’s Winners

SIRAGO— Deniz Alpay—First Place

MIT White Board ChallengeUnfortunate 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?

Mark T Wayne

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.

Mark T WayneI 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 USS Siragointeresting 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.

Sirago Check 2

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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 Mark T Waynefool 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.

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TRIBAL SCIENCE—Mike Vasquez—Third Place

Dr Mike VasquezThis PhD is an engineer as well as a sports nut. He calls the device a Rip Chip. It answers questions such as: “How fast? How high? How many revolutions?”

Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that you’re one of that peculiar brand of Tribal Sciencelunatic 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. .

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EATERIA— Ola Ayeni—The Mark T Wayne Business Award

EateriaAll 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 Eateria Logothis offering works.

And they’re already generating press.

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GO TO – THE BEST CHALLENGE YET

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Notes & Links

Judges – This is an intimidating bunch if I ever saw one:

Jed AbernethyJed Abernethy

Big Idea Forum

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David BrownDavid Brown

Ungeretti & Harris LLP

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Moises GoldmanMoises Goldman PhD

M&J Acquisitions Moises6@comcast.net

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Steve SmithSteve Smith

Global Strategy Implementation

(He flew in from Amsterdam for the event.)

The Nameless RabbleThe Nameless Rabble

Yes, the audience votes too.

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Nancy MunroMODERATOR – 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.

MIT Enterprise Forum

THE TOP TEN COMBATANTS in alphabetical order:

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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GO TO – THE BEST CHALLENGE YET

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link . This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money. .Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved . .

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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, App, big money, Characters, chicago, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Events, Internet, Internet Marketing, Invention, investor, Mark T Wayne, MIT, MIT Enterprise Forum, MITEF, Mobile, Mobile App, Mobile Marketing, pitch, Software

THE FEAR OF RISK

The Story of Ray Markman-Part 10

by John Jonelis

Ray MarkmanFriday, 4:20 pm

My office door swings open and in walks Loop Lonagan holding a bottle of scotch by the neck. “Hadda settle for da cheap stuff,” he says.  “Where’s Alex?”

“Sent him to the club to warm up.” I pull two drinking glasses out of my beat-up old WWII Air Force desk.

Lonagan pours a jigger or two into our tumblers, leans back and inhales the aroma of the scotch. He grins. “Warmin’ up won’t do ‘im no good.”

“That scotch won’t do you any good, either.” From his sloppy speech, it’s clear to me that Loop’s has too much alcohol in his belly already.

“Shuttup ‘n’ drink it. I know what I’m doin’.”  He downs his and pours another, then pulls out his notes.  “Lemme give ya what I got left on Ray Markman. Where d’ya want I should start?”

“Tell me why he leaves Britannica.”

The Fear of Risk

Lonagan flips a page of his notes. “Okay, by dis time, Ray’s da executive veep at Britannica. If he sticks another 8 months, he’s gonna be president.  Deeze guys is payin’ ‘im hundreds o’ thousands o’ dollars and givin’ ‘im every perk a guy can get.  First class travel ‘round da world, unlimited expense account, cars, clubs, seasons tickets to da Bears, da Bulls, da works.”

It sounds like a good life to me. “So why doesn’t he stay with the company?”

Risk - The Game

RISK – A Parker Brothers Game ™

Lonagan thumps his notes. “He wants to get da company into video—dat’s da up-and-coming tech play at da time. Dey already got every subject in the world between da covers o’ Britannica—a wunnerful resource—and dey got a name dat holds incredible prestige.  Nobody can compete with ‘em.  So Ray pitches video and alotta udder good ideas fer products not even on da market yet.”

He scoots his chair closer and leans forward on my desk. “Ray really studies da video business. So far, it’s just mom and pop stores.  But he knows it ain’t gonna end there.  It ends with da big guys musclin’ out da little guys.  Dat’s how it always ends and dat’s what’ll happen here.  Britannica’s da big guy.”

Board Room - Mary Poppins

BOARD ROOM – From MARY POPPINS – A Walt Disney – Buena Vista Production

“Is all this reliable, Loop? Can you back it up?”

“Naw, it’s second, third hand. But it sounds like Ray t’ me.  Wanna hear it?”

“Sure, go ahead.”

He clears his throat and reads Ray’s words from his notes: Some of these guys are interested in just one thing—retiring. That’s all they care about—that’s all they ever talk about.  Who wants to retire?  I don’t want to retire.  I said, ‘Why do you want to retire?’

I tell them, ‘The risk of DOING is less than the risk of STAYING PAT. I can’t convince them.  They have all this money.  They’re buying bonds, not stocks.  They’re looking in the rear-view mirror.  They can’t visualize.  I quit and start my own video company.’

Lonagan looks me in the eye. “You see ‘is problem? Deeze guys is worried about risk.  They’s at dat time in life when it’s too late to recover from a big loss.  We all reach dat point if we don’t get hit by a truck er somethin’.  Ray just sees it different is all.”

I lean back in my chair and close my eyes. That’s thirty years ago and Ray still doesn’t want to retire today.  I find these words wonderfully revealing.  It seems a shame that so few of us relish our work the way Ray does.  People actively seek to escape it.  He finds joy in it.  This is a man at home with his business environment.

On the Loose

Lonagan clears his throat and breaks me from my reverie. “So Ray’s on da loose with ‘is partners and whadaya think? Britannica comes back to ‘im and wants ‘im to do their video business.  Dey had ‘im on da inside.  Dey turned down da idea.  Now dey hire ‘im as a consultant.  ‘Course, he charges a huge fee.  And they pay it! 

 “So he gets into da video business, doin’ real good right from da get-go. 

 “He calls his company Heritage Home Video and does lotsa udder projects.  All sorts o’ how-to videos.  Then he gets ahold o’ dis Jane Fonda video ‘n’ makes it by far da #1 seller at da time.  You remember that one.” 

Jane Fonda Exercise Video

Jane Fonda Exercise Video

I grin to myself, recalling Jane Fonda on the cover of that tape.  They even advertised it on television.

“Back then, ever’body rented video. But Ray ain’t rentin’ any o’ da Jane Fonda stuff.  He figures, it don’t do no good to rent it ‘n’ watch it one time.  It’s an exercise video.  You gotta watch it over and over.  So people is payin’ 59 bucks for dis thing.  Then there’s videos on how to play baseball, golf, basketball, a lotsa others.  So Ray and his partners get all dis video business that coulda belonged to the big company.” 

Lonagan’s slams his fist on the desk. “Y’know how I see it?  Britannica rules da Internet today if dey keep up with technology.  But dey throw it all away just like Sears and Monkey Wards throw away their catalogues dat ever’body relied on fer years ‘n’ years.  And doze guys coulda ruled online retail the way Amazon does now. 

I nod. So Ray saw it that far back.

 “Remember dis, John—Fear o’ risk strangles yer vision every time.”

 

Continue to Part 11

 

Go back to Part 1

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Find Chicago Venture Magazine at www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.comComments and re-posts are welcomed and encouraged. This is not investment advice – do your own due diligence. I cannot guarantee accuracy but I give you my best.

Copyright © 2012 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Biography, Characters, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Conflict, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Invention