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Trilogy CEO Liemandt Kicks-Off $50K Contest

Matthew F. Palmer

Students filled into 10-250 for the $50K Entrepreneurship Competition kickoff Wednesday, hopeful that their business ideas would bloom into successful start-ups and pick up $50,000 on the way.

Student hopefuls came to the kickoff with their Palm Pilots and “Business Plans for Dummies” books in hand to hear keynote speaker Joe Liemandt, Founder and CEO of Trilogy Software, Inc.

“It sets you up for venture capital,” said Neil R. Gupta G, who is considering joining a $50K team.

“It’s a good exercise,” Michelle Verris said. She is a team member of Amtek, which won the $1K Entrepreneurship Competition for its plan to manufacture inexpensive medical technology for developing companies.

“Amtek matched my interests with a project,” Verris said.

Verris believes that her Amtek team won because they were “unique and socially conscious.” She said the prize money will be reinvested into Amtek.

The $50K competition might also help to match students with jobs.

Two companies, and Triology Software, Inc., advertised employment opportunities at the kickoff.

Stacy Williams, an employee of Triology who handed out “Triology@MIT” T-shirts, commented that $50K participants have many marketable skills. “They have the entrepreneurial spirit,” Williams said.

Liemandt advised entrepreneurs

The keynote speaker, Joe Liemandt, told the story of his company, Triology Software, Inc., and gave quite a bit of advice to the contestants.

“There has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur,” he said.

After dropping out of Stanford University just months before graduation, Liemandt and four other students set out to build their own company.

Several failed pitches and dozens of maxed out credit cards made it quite difficult to keep up company morale. “It starts to get lonely out there,” he said.

Although Silicon Graphics, Inc. was interested in buying Liemandt’s software, they initially had reservations about hiring young talent. SGI eventually agreed, and Triology went on to become one of the largest privately owned software companies in the world.

$50K winners to be picked in May

Participants have until February 22 to submit an executive summary outlining their proposed business plan.

From these summaries, the judges will choose semi-finalists, who will have until April 19 to submit their final business proposals.

In early May, the winning team will receive $30,000 in seed money, while two runners-up will each win $10,000.

The $50K Competition comes on the heels of the $1K Competition, which is seen as a warm up for the main event.

The ten winners, who each took home $1,000 ranged from companies who specialized in areas ranging from miniature microphones to medical adhesives to Chinese fast food.