GW Business Plan Competition Features Student, Faculty Ingenuity

Business-Plan

Left to right: Director of GW's Office of Entrepreneurship Jim Chung, competition founder John Rollins, Ph.D. student Zhuojie Zhou, competition sponsor Ann Scott, assistant professor Nan Zhang and Business School Dean Doug Guthrie

If the vast amount of information available on the Internet is envisioned as an iceberg, traditional search engines like Google only uncover the very tip. That’s why Zhuojie Zhou, a SEAS Ph.D. student, and Nan Zhang, a GW assistant professor of computer science, developed WiseAgg, a search engine for analysts.

The engine, which works on a regular computer, uncovers analytics far beyond what a normal search engine can find, giving the user valuable “deep web” data. The idea was so innovative that judges at GW’s fourth annual Business Plan Competition awarded it the top prize of $25,000 in cash and in-kind investments.

The pair also won the Plug and Play Tech Award, which will cover travel expenses and tuition for the team to attend a “start-up accelerator” seminar in Silicon Valley to help them refine their business idea.

The winners beat out seven other teams in the final competition on April 13. In earlier rounds, the field was narrowed from 144 initial applicants representing all of GW’s schools—the largest number of participants in the competition’s history—to 32 semifinalists, who were invited to develop full-fledged business plans.

Launched in 2009, the GW Business Plan Competition was founded to give students, faculty, and alumni an experiential learning opportunity in entrepreneurship. The competition allows teams of up to four people to compete for grants and prize money to put towards launching a new business. The competition is a three-round process, with submission of an executive summary, submission of a written business plan, and an oral presentation. The best teams advance from each round, and the process culminates in first and fourth place awards, a best undergraduate team, and an audience choice award.

The event is funded by entrepreneurs Florida Gov. Richard Scott (R) and his wife, Annette, whose daughter Allison Guimard, GWSB BBA ’05, is also an entrepreneur. Additional sponsors this year included Capital One Bank, Tech Cocktail, Blank Rome LLP, iStrategy Labs, Plug and Play Tech Center and  Brazen Careerist.

Read more about the 2011-2012 competition and winners at GW Today. For more information about the Business Plan competition, visit gwbizplan.com.

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