Saturday, April 14, 2007

And the Winner Is...

On Friday, I served as one of four judges for the 2007 Kravis Business Plan Competition hosted by the Venture Finance Institute at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at Claremont University. It's the 17th annual competition that attracts business plans submissions from undergraduates, graduate students and alumni of the University. Some of the winners have actually gone on to enjoy success - one of the judges was a winning presenter in years past.

(For the curious, Henry R. Kravis of Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts and Co. was an alumni of Claremont University. He remains involved with the school - among other things, he personally hosts a group of Claremont University students for a two hour visit to KKR during their annual school sponsored trip to Wall Street. )

The graduate school staff, led by Richard Smith from the school's Venture Finance Institute, had pre-screened the submissions and presented the "final four" to the judges for review about two weeks ago. On Friday, we heard ten minute presentations from each finalist followed by a question and answer session. We group of judges then convened to debate and decide on the top two presenters.

The decision to award first place was a relatively easy one. The first place trophy went to the group who not only had the most robust plan and best presentation, but whose business is actually up and running. Nothing like showing that the "dog eats the dog food". The judges believed this group has uncovered a very interesting opportunity, even if perhaps the business isn't addressing a "pain". If this business raises some money and catches fire, it could be a huge opportunity for an investor.

Oh yes, the name of the winner? Fantasy Congress.

Fantasy Congress offers students, political aficionados, lobbyists and regular joe's like you and me the opportunity to follow political news, monitor federal legislation in great depth and exchange opinions through the site's social network and online forums. The real attraction for many registered users will be the gaming aspect - the chance to draft your dream team of politicians just like you might draft Peyton Manning or Rex Grossman for your fantasy football team. Right now Barack Obama is the most frequently drafted politician. Hillary Clinton - no where on the top ten list!

With over 65 thousand registered users and growing daily, Fantasy Congress could be an unparalleled resource in the 2008 presidential election. It's already received some great publicity from Time Magazine, The New York Times, Fox News and ABC's Good Morning America to name a few not to mention a ringing endorsement from Senator Joe Lieberman.

Congratulations to Fantasy Congress! Now go out and make some money!

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