Business plan competition winners look to dig deeper than Google
04.13.2012 An assistant professor of computer science and a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Engineering and Applied Science were awarded a first-place $25,000 investment for their business startup Friday in the fourth annual GW Business Plan Competition.
Nan Zhang, who has been teaching at GW for four years, and Zhuojie Zhou are the brains behind WiseAgg, an analytic tool for digging into the relatively untapped “deep web” – an area of the Internet consisting of information databases that has been left untouched even by major search engines like Google.
“We started with the simple motivation that there are already resources out there, but nobody knows those big-picture views of these databases,” Zhang said. “We found that there are so many deep web resources out there, we can really reach some information that people can’t easily get today.”
Zhang and Zhou made up one of eight teams that beat out a pool of more than 140 entries to reach the final round of the competition, which took place today.
The teams spent the last two months hammering out the details of their infant enterprises, attending workshops and receiving guidance from experienced entrepreneurs with the ultimate goal of jumpstarting their companies and earning a hefty investment.
Zhang said the bulk of the prize money will go toward the further development of the WiseAgg program, supplementing grant money the team already received from the National Science Foundation that assisted their research and helped identify business prospects.
AthleteTrax – a program to help student-athletes keep up with schoolwork and maintain high GPAs even while traveling for sporting events – placed second with a $10,000 prize. The team included sophomore business school students Jon Halpern, Reinaldo Coriano and Elizabeth Zander and Brian Gross. AthleteTrax earned another $10,000 when the four won the best undergraduate prize.
For the first time in the competition’s history, an additional $1,000 prize was given to a team determined by votes from the audience. This sum also went to the AthleteTrax project.
Fundzy, an online fundraising platform championed by junior Dylan Fox, took third place. Seniors Nathaniel Diskint and Caitlin Keating earned fourth place with Imagnus Biomedical, which promoted cost-effective biomedical instruments.
The teams’ presentations were judged on their originality, financial planning, investment potential and passion for the project, among other criteria. The competition’s $50,000 in total prize money is co-sponsored by Florida Governor Rick Scott, whose daughter is an alumna.
Source:GW Hatchet - Josh Griffith