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$10K Competition Grows to $50K

By Oleg E. Drozhinin
Staff Reporter

In a move to promote participation, the annual $10K competition increased the amount of prize money it awards and became the $50K Business Plan Competition.

Designed to bring together engineers and managers, the contest has seen a sharp increase in funding following a strong fundraising campaign by the its organizers.

The new award, which consists of $30,000 in cash and $20,000 in legal and financial services, will be divided among three teams with $30,000 going to the winning group and $10,000 each to the second and third place teams.

Pitching in to finance the jump in funds were The David and Lindsay Morgenthaler Foundation, which provided all of the money for the previous contests, and a slew of new contributors including companies founded by past winners like Stylus Innovation, Inc.

The most obvious change to this year's competition was the larger prize which was designed both for practical reasons and to spur interest in the program. "It is not very realistic for $10,000 to be sufficient to create a new business,"said James S. Deverell '96, the contest's lead organizer.

"The increase is going to have an impact on the competition. There are always people sitting in labs who have great ideas but who don't think that they have the time to participate," said Patrick J. McCormick '98, one of the organizers. "Increasing the fund prize money will be an added incentive for many people to write up a business plan," he said.

"We wanted to increase the prize money because it would make the entire contest more significant," McCormick said. "With the larger fund, there could be more significant prizes," he added.

"We plan to increase the competition fund further to $100,000, boost its external visibility and make it known nationwide," Deverell said. "MIT is an ideal place for the rise of entrepreneurship since the best business school and the best engineering school are only half a mile away from each other," he said.

Because of their positive experiences with the competition, past winners decided to contribute money.

"In short, the 10K was great,"said Krisztina Holly '89 who won the 1991 competition and is one of the co-founders of Stylus Innovations, Inc. "It was a really good experience. The 10Kforced us to actually sit down, write a business plan, and focus our energies on the production. Through the competition we gained access to many sources of help and advice," she said.