Young Entrepreneurs Debut Fresh Ideas in San Francisco

Top Silicon Valley VCs to Select Best New Business Concept


Better breast cancer screening? Curing carpel tunnel? Using recycled products to make tools for African farmers? Those are just a sampling of the ideas being presented by 21 student teams from across the globe competing for top honors and a chance to turn their business plans into successful ventures at the University of San Francisco’s eighth annual International Business Plan Competition (IBPC).

Entrepreneur teams are competing for $25,000 in total prize money, coaching from more than 40 Silicon Valley industry leaders, and the chance to turn their plans into actual businesses. This dynamic competition will take place at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco’s Japantown, 1625 Post Street (at Laguna Street) on Thursday and Friday, March 25-26.

“USF’s International Business Plan Competition provides competing teams with what is needed most: face time with the key decision makers in the industry--venture capitalists, angel investors, and professional entrepreneurs,” said Mike Duffy, dean of the USF School of Business and Professional Studies. Duffy continued, “This real world approach in judging allows teams the opportunity to receive coaching, advice, and mentorship from successful industry leaders, and truly prepares them for the next level of entrepreneurial excellence.”

The main events of the two-day conference include:

  • VC panel discussion featuring author, consultant, and venture capital partner Geoffrey Moore of Mohr Davidow Ventures and TCG Advisors (taking place on Friday, March 26 at 11:30 a.m. in the Imperial Ballroom).
  • The elevator pitch competition (on Friday, March 26 at 6:30 p.m.) where each team is given 90 seconds to present their ideas to the judges and a packed audience in the Imperial Ballroom of the Hotel Kabuki.

The competition features 21 graduate student teams from around the world including University of Washington, UC Berkeley, Rice University, University of Illinois – Chicago, Carnegie Mellon, Johns Hopkins, Cornell, Georgetown, University of San Francisco, University of Louisville, Purdue, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Arkansas – Fayetteville, University of New Brunswick, San Diego State University, University of Michigan, and the Indian Institute of Technology – Chennai, India.

“We were blown away with the caliber of teams applying to compete in this year’s competition,” said Brett Bonthron, a partner at TCG Advisors, an adjunct business professor at USF, and chair of this year’s business plan competition. When outlining the details of the competition, Bonthron remarked, “From clean tech to medical devices, these teams have a terrific blend of creativity and smarts. Because the San Francisco Bay Area is a hub of entrepreneurial spirit and technological innovation, this is the ideal competition for these student teams who want to sell their business plans and embark on an entrepreneurial career.”

“USF's IBPC impressed us on several levels-- the outstanding organization of the event, as well as the quality and breadth of teams presenting and interacting with each other,” said Dr. Michael S. Koeris, co-founder of Novophage Therapeutics, Inc., winner of the 2009 USF competition. In reminiscing about their 2009 win, Koeris continued, “For us, the competition was the start of our professional lives as start-up founders. We met many other likeminded entrepreneurs, with whom we are still in touch today - goes to show that part of the experience is the process, not only the competition.”

This year’s distinguished judges include representatives from following firms: SRI, DeNovo Ventures, Bay City Capital, Red Planet Capital, WirelessWERX, Crescendo Ventures, Point Cypress Ventures, TCG Advisors, Seven Hills Partners, Onset Ventures, Wavepoint Ventures, and many others. Joe Mandato of DeNovo Ventures, who has participated as a judge for the past four years said, “USF’s business plan competition reminds us that entrepreneurship is hot and people are thinking of creative and innovative solutions to big problems.” Mandato went on, “As a judge, I get the opportunity to see wonderful young talent and receive a preview of many exciting new ideas and technologies.”

For additional information about the competition, please contact Anne-Marie Devine at 415.422.2697 (