Digital scavenger hunt wins business plan competition
Most scavenger hunts involve small prizes and bragging rights, but Seth Priebatsch ’11’s idea for a virtual text-messaging scavenger hunt earned him a $5,000 check.
Priebatsch’s team SCVNGR, whose name mimics text-messaging style for the word “scavenger,” won $5,000 and first place in the TigerLaunch Business Plan Competition, in which 15 teams comprising up to four students submitted business plans for review by a panel of judges with backgrounds in entrepreneurship.
“I was excited, but there was still a lot more work to do. I basically took Saturday to celebrate and then went back to work,” he said.
Unlike other business competitions, which require winners to use their prize money for incorporation and startup, TigerLaunch has the goal of teaching contestants.
“I think the goal of TigerLaunch … is to teach how to write business plans, how to present your ideas, not exactly about how to start up the business,” TigerLaunch co-director Sar Medoff ’10 said.
SCVNGR uses cell phones to send out clues and receive responses via SMS for digital scavenger hunts. The scavenger hunts would invite visitors and locals to spend time seeking out and winning prizes in major tourist destinations, such as New York City or Boston. To enter a scavenger hunt, team members would sign up online or text SCVNGR to a short code.
Priebatsch, also the CEO of his personal company PostcardTech, is currently working on incorporating SCVNGR.
“It’s definitely a new approach to what’s been done in the past with pencil and paper in scavenger hunts. ... It will be profitable because there is a significant demand for his product, and his idea doesn’t require a lot of funding to get started,” Medoff said.
Of all the contestants, Medoff was most impressed with Priebatsch. “He put together the best presentation across all three of the sessions. Certain people shined at different times, but he was the most consistent,” Medoff said.
Christian Theriault GS, whose team Princeton Biomedical won second place and $3,000, founded his company to research orthopedic implants. Theriault’s technology claims a four-fold increase in tissue-implant integration rates in preclinical studies. He plans to manufacture and sell multiple sizes of orthopedic screws, pins, rods, wires and nails in the company’s first year.
The $2,000 third-place prize went to Melissa “Bethani” Massey ’10, Jennifer Howard ’09, Tiffany Ko ’09, who is also a cartoonist for The Daily Princetonian, and Emily Miller ’09 of Brightbox Learning. The undergraduate-led team proposed the creation of a website for learning-disability intervention and treatment. The website that the team has begun working on will be geared toward providing products, forums, feedback, expert opinions and interaction for the families of children who suffer from a learning disability.
Massey, one of the Brightbox team members, is herself awaiting results of a learning disability diagnosis. She got the idea for Brightbox Learning when she noticed the frustration expressed online by parents looking for useful information about learning disabilities to help their kids.
The positive feedback and prize money from TigerLaunch pushed the team to incorporate its business, an idea it had not seriously considered before.
“Four to five different mothers came up to us, looking us in the eye, and said ‘you guys need to do this,’ ” Massey said.
Massey said that she considered her group’s project different from the other contestants’ plans because of its humanitarian aspect.
“We’re looking to be successful through service. Most of the other contestants were focused on making money; they weren’t focused on being socially conscious,” Massey said.
Throughout the TigerLaunch competition, contestants are paired with alumni mentors — ranging from venture capitalists to hedge fund managers — to prepare them for the final competition in February.
“One of the really great benefits was mentorship,” Princeton Entrepreneurship Club president Joseph Perla ’09 said.
In the early rounds of the competition, two judges were paired with each competitor to comment on what aspects of the proposals needed clarification and improvement.
“This is invaluable ... honest feedback,” Perla said.
This year’s competition was the eighth-annual TigerLaunch and was sponsored by the Princeton Entrepreneurship Club and Howard Cox ’64. Selcuk Arkun '10, who co-directed the event with Medoff, said that a wide range of students of different years and interests participated.
The competing teams submitted executive summaries and business plans to be evaluated by judges, leading to the selection of 10 teams. These finalists then gave presentations to the judges on “Super Saturday,” an event held during Alumni Weekend when the winners were determined.
This year TigerLaunch’s Super Saturday fell on Feb. 23. During the seven-hour event, the finalists made “elevator pitches” and presentations to both the judges and the general public. By the end of the day, three of the teams were selected to divide the $10,000 prize money.
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