Intel Capital Final Rounds Continue with Integrated Diagnostics from Berkeley

11 04 2009

berkeleyteamfinals

After a brief lunch break for the judges, the Intel Capital Final Round Presentations have resumed at the New Venture Championship. The first team to present its venture after the break was Integrated Diagnostics, from the University of California, Berkeley.

Led by Octavian Florescu, the team introduced HemaScreen, an affordable and efficient way to diagnose HIV. Unlike other HIV detection tests, HemaScreen needs just 10 to 20 minutes to produce results.

Not too shabby considering many HIV tests require an additional appointment just to learn the results of a test. Because the team’s product produces results so quickly, the extra appointment isn’t needed, saving healthcare providers around $70.

Me, Jeremy Liebman, talking with the Berkeley team after their presentation.

Me, Jeremy Liebman, talking with the Octavian Florescu after his presentation.

Integrated Diagnostics hopes to market its product in a clinical trial within two years. If HemaScreen is unable to launch in the United States within two years, the team will look to develop business for its product throughout Europe, Australia, and Japan.

Florescu, along with team members Karl Skucha and Tayson Siegel, benefited from the questions and comments the NVC finalist judges had to offer.

“The judges pushed us from a business perspective.” Florescu said. “They asked us acute and precise questions outside of our areas of expertise.”

While the team has mainly engineering-minded members to construct HemaScreen, the team’s lack of business experience did not hinder their poise. I considered the strongest part of their pitch the Question and Answer portion.

HemaScreen will find out its fate tonight at the Columbia Sportswear Awards Reception. Check back then to find out which team is named the champion of the New Venture Championship.





Look for Updates on International Business Times as the NVC Media Sponsor

8 04 2009

International Business Times is now a part of the New Venture Championship family as a 2009 media sponsor.

As part of the partnership, venture teams competing in the New Venture Championship will be able to provide their own commentary by posting on the IBT Web site in the blog section of the journal. The NVC has its own blog on the site that can be found via this link.

With this partnership, we increase global awareness about the NVC, and provide teams increased access to the social media world.  Extra coverage for teams increases venture and brand awareness building credibility with potential investors.

Social media such as blogging certainly has its appeal for start-ups and venture teams like the those competing in the NVC. Social media, like blogs, can be very low in cost and have a high return on investment. Perfect for new companies that may not have a lot of capital.

Join us in this exciting opportunity. Head to IBT for updates from competing teams as the NVC begins tomorrow.





Presenting Yourself and Your Venture

2 04 2009

With the New Venture Championship fast approaching, many teams will be fine tuning their presentations. An effective and well-structured presentation can help a business venture appeal to judges, sponsors, and fellow participants.

Below are a few ideas and tips to keep in mind when fine-tuning your own presentation:

Tape Yourself
Taping a practice presentation of your team in action is a very simple way to note flaws. This can be done either with a video camera or an audio recorder. Be aware to watch for sections of your presentation that seem not to run smoothly. Sometimes asking others to watch is also helpful, as you know what you want to say and a fresh mind can notice different flaws.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Business competitions will often let participants examine the room that they will be pitching in prior to the presentation. Be sure to know the size of the room, where you will be standing, and how this will affect your presentation. This prevents you from being surprised, as you will be comfortable with your surroundings.

Don’t Memorize Your Speech
If you’re a part of a team accepted into a business plan competition, you’re expected to have your pitch down pat.

But don’t fall into the trap of memorizing it. Know your facts, know your story, know the logical flow of information, know the words you want to use but don’t memorize it. Give yourself some room for stage fright, unpredictable events, changing on the fly. The worst 10 seconds in any presentation is silence as someone struggles to find the next word in the memory link. Instead, knowing the ideas that you want to get across and letting the words flow is much more natural. Presenting your plan is crucial for the success of your presentation – act like its core to all you know. Last tip, write down the questions you think you will hear – but also write down the answers. Also write down the question you pray you will never be asked, you’re almost guaranteed it will be asked first. Make sure to have a great answer for that most difficult question.

Relax
Last, but not least, make sure to relax! Have fun! You have been working on this venture for months. Now, it is time to shine. Make sure to smile, make direct eye contact, and impress the judges! An effective speech is necessary as judges, and potential investors, will only be able to see you for a short amount of time.

Keep in mind these tips to improve your pitch before the judges even give their suggestions!





Financing a Great Idea in Today’s Economy…

11 03 2009

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In honor of the Elevator Pitch competition last week, I have been digging to find some information on how to turn a great idea into a reality.

As we all know, the economy is not exactly ideal for beginning a new venture and finding a way to fund it, but there have to be other avenues of exploration. “Business Plans” coach at Entrepreneur.com, Tim Berry, had much to say about the topic on his blog “Be Realistic About Startup Financing.”

One great lesson to learn prior to seeking funding is that there is no such thing as free money. For an idea to flourish it must be able to withstand the test of monetary implementation, and that comes at the price of finding it.

Government loans are hard to come by, especially for the average Joe with an idea that may not have a high degree of social development. So, where do the average Joe’s go?

Tim Berry lays it on the line with several steps for those of us without the cash:

1. What can you afford?

–> Think lemonade stand if the money is tight!

2. Who can help?

–>Your best buddy could become your partner or co-founder!

3. Why not find investors?

–>They want to help; you just have to prove why your idea really is great!

Understanding your financial capabilities is the first step to fostering a great idea. Timing is key, especially when finances are concerned, so if it isn’t the right time for you to start a business or create a product, WAIT! A great idea poorly executed can become a bad idea very quickly.