The BizTech Challenge Presented by Louisiana Economic Development (LED) was hosted last Friday at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Orleans. This year’s competition featured five teams: two from Southern University and one from Grambling State, Xavier, and Southern University Law School respectively, all submitting business pitches and vying for a cash prize of $15,000
The teams researched and created a product that they were marketing to a panel of judges. The pitches were comprised of two parts: a product description phase and a business and sales phase. The product description phase detailed the actual product, including how it works, what the goal of it is, how it is made, etc. The business and sales phase focused on how the product was going to make money and how it was going to attract both consumers and investors. The panel of judges, comprised of individuals from a wide variety of fields and companies, evaluated each of the teams on both phases and how well each team was able to sell them the idea and effectively communicate that the product could be feasible.
The designs ranged far and wide, from a magnetic driven piston engine to an automatic trash and recycling unit, the products were incredibly unique but still incredibly practical. For example, Xavier University’s team, Team Schollo, was comprised of two young men, motivated by their lack of funding for school, who created a crowd sourcing website, app, and community where students can raise money for school.
Law Bloxx, a team from Southern University Law School who developed a legal assistant app, finished the competition inn fifth place. Team Recan from Southern University, who developed the automatic trash and recycling unit, came in fourth place. With prizes of $2,500 and $5,000 respectively, Teams Schollo and Decso Electric placed third and second. The grand prize of $7,500 went to the team MiEye from Grambling State University.
The placings were somewhat controversial, though, with many in the crowd believing that DesCo Electric had the stronger pitch over team MiEye. With team MiEye being from Grambling and DesCo Electric from Southern University, some argued that unjust bias was used in the decision making, “I actually had DesCo as my number one. I thought the concept was innovative and revolutionized the way that we think about renewable energy. But MiEye had a great concept that just needs a little work,” said a Business Lead for Microsoft’s Extreme Labs, Dean Jones, when asked what MiEye did to separate themselves from the competition.
Assistant Secretary for the Louisiana Economic Development, Mandi D. Mitchell felt that team MiEye had more potential to generate revenue, “The edge that MiEye had was that it was something that could be sold or marketed to the masses, and they could partner with so many different companies.”
Irrespective of the results, all the teams performed well and they all came away from with some very valuable new skills, “[we] learned how to write a business plan and just work alongside people on a project as big as this,” said one of the members of DesCo, Dashanna Bradford.