Imagine an online magazine customized to bring out only the stories and photos a user would like to see — something that cuts down on the time a person might waste on the web filtering through search results or news stories, but does so by focusing on images, not just words.
Three freshmen formed Mashup, a team that built this idea into the winning proposal of the first annual Mayo Business Plan Competition and took home a $12,000 prize in the process. The four-month competition saw 16 teams — a total of 52 students — battle it out for the top spot, culminating in a final round of presentations in the Business Building Lounge on April 4.
“When we initially entered this competition we obviously wanted to win, but at every checkpoint our goal was to just get to the next round,” said Davis Craig, freshman economics major and member of Mashup. “Now that we have won I feel great, but I think the actual reality of us winning is still catching up to me and hasn’t hit me yet.”
Craig, along with freshman management major Ryan Dolan and freshman biology major Frankie Nwafili, sought to design a website that would streamline information for its users’ convenience.
“A user can also filter out the types of information they are being fed by selecting specific categories of their interests they’d like to be presented with,” Dolan said. “Our generation spends way too much time on the internet, we want to get them in-and-out.”
Their idea was just the first component of the competition. After submitting an initial business plan outline on Dec. 1, members of Mashup spent months developing their concept and presenting in front of judges. This culminated in their showdown with two other finalists, The Elite Club and Flo & Co., where each team had 30 minutes to present its plan to a panel of judges.
Following the win, Mashup plans to follow through on its idea and officially launch a beta version of its site in the summer, according to Dolan.
The second and third place teams took home prizes of $6,000 and $2,000, respectively, but the benefits of this competition reach beyond the winning teams, according to the dean of the school of business and competition co-creator William Keep.
“We want to send the message that good ideas and even the notion of building a business around an idea can come from anywhere on campus,” Keep said.
Keep suggested that the competing students, more than a quarter of which were non-business majors, benefited directly through the process of clarifying and developing business ideas and building confidence — emphasizing the importance of students beginning to develop their ideas while in school, instead of waiting until they graduate.
“History shows us that good ideas can change the world through a variety of mechanisms,” Keep said. “A thoughtful and successful business plan responsibly implemented can be one of those mechanisms.”
The dean created this competition with its namesake, finance professor Herbert Mayo, who “made the idea real” according to Keep, by agreeing to contribute $10,000 to the competition. When alumnus Eric Szabo, ’97, found out about the competition, he was moved to donate $10,000 himself.
“(The competition) will hopefully take a small step towards adding to the pool of entrepeneurs for which the future can draw on so that we can continue prosper as a society,” Szabo said.
The event proved successful enough that each contributor has committed to bringing the event back. Prepare for a second annual Mayo Business Plan Competition in the coming academic year.