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Inventive Entrepreneurs: International Moot Corp Competition a springboard for business creation

Private Concepts Inc. team members
Photo: Mark Rutkowski
Left to right, the University of Texas McCombs School of Business MBAs from Private Concepts Inc., winner of the $100,000 first prize in the 2002 global Moot Corp competition: Tim Wilson, Dr. Patrick Pevoto, Niki Aberle, Lynn Wright, and Andy Campbell.
A revolutionary, patent-pending device that its inventor says will replace the pap smear as a cervical cancer test for women is a step closer to market after claiming the grand prize at the 19th annual international Moot Corp® Competition. The competition is hosted by the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.

This year, 30 teams — 12 from international schools and 18 from the U.S. — representing some of the most prestigious business schools in the world came to Austin to participate in what Business Week has called the “Super Bowl of business school competitions.”

Competition finalists also pitched the merits of a mini CAT scanner, a toy store focusing on remote controlled race cars, software that greatly expands the capabilities of wireless LAN systems, and a chemical that keeps ornamental fish healthy. The plan involving ornamental fish, presented by the University of Georgia, was selected runner up.

The Moot Corp competition, begun by University of Texas at Austin MBA students in 1984, is the oldest and largest business plan competition in the world, offering business students the chance to simulate the business world process of raising venture capital. The competition’s $100,000 cash prize is the most lucrative of any university-based competition.

Tim Wilson and Niki Aberle
Photo: Mark Rutkowski
Tim Wilson and Niki Aberle, University of Texas MBAs, prepare to deliver their prize-winning business plan presentation for Private Concepts Inc. at the 2002 global Moot Corp Competition in Austin.
Since its inception, Moot Corp has evolved from a local academic enterprise to an international launching pad for new ventures. The competition was modeled after the moot court programs popular at law schools and in its early days was truly “moot,” with participating students presenting business ideas but not starting their proposed ventures.

In the early 1990s, MBAs started converting their classroom creations into business enterprises. Since 1993, the winner of the preliminary round, held in the fall, has moved into the Austin Technology Incubator and started its venture. Five of these ventures are still in business, including Isochron Data, an Austin-based wireless communications company, and Halsa Pharmaceuticals, which discovered a material that, when injected into obese patients, could safely generate a rapid and substantial loss of body fat.

While the competition has inspired scores of new ventures, it has also evolved into a valuable teaching tool. Each year, the contest generates a series of case studies in entrepreneurship, which students around the world study to perfect their business plans.

This year’s Moot Corp winner, Private Concepts Inc., is a team of MBAs from the university’s McCombs School of Business. They beat out 29 teams from the London Business School, Carnegie Mellon and top MBA programs around the world to claim the $100,000 prize on May 5. This marks the fourth time in the competition’s 19-year history that a University of Texas at Austin team has won.

Dr. Gary Cadenhead
Photo: Mark Rutkowski
Dr. Gary Cadenhead, professor of entrepreneurship and director of the Moot Corp competition at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, shows off the $100,000 first-prize check that will go to seed-stage funding for this year's winning team.
The company will use the prize money to conduct U.S. Food and Drug Administration clinical trials needed before its product can be marketed.

“I am just elated,” said Dr. Gary Cadenhead, the University of Texas team’s faculty adviser. “This is a unique product that a team member invented, which will meet an enormous need for women to have a less painful and intrusive means of detecting cervical cancer.”

There is no cure for cervical cancer, which each year kills 5,000 women nationally and 200,000 worldwide. Women diagnosed with cervical cancer have a one in three chance of survival, making a yearly cervical exam imperative.

Private Concept’s device, invented by Dr. Patrick Peveto, allows women to comfortably and conveniently self-administer the exam at home. The team anticipates that the simple, inexpensive Pevlon Home Cervical Cancer Screen will replace the pap smear and is the first in a series of home health care products that Private Concepts hopes to market.

All five members of the McCombs team--Dr. Peveto, Andy Campbell, Lynn Wright, Niki Aberle, and Tim Wilson--received their Option II Executive MBA degrees this month.

By Guillermo Garcia

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  Updated 2014 October 13
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