Friday, May 1, 2009

UC Berkeley Bplan Competition

Today I attended the finals of the UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition. First price, a TB diagnosis device; second, a biotech venture that beefs-up bacteriophages to improve antibiotics effectiveness; third price, a HIV diagnosis device.

They were all great ideas, supported by brilliant technical teams and backed by impressive advisory impression is that all three winners focused too much on the solution and far too little on the business model or even the go-to-market strategy to make it commercially viable.

I know eight minutes is not that much time and that VC judges are probably right prioritizing certain factors such as how defensible is the IP. Nevertheless, as a business guy I cared less about PhD horsepower and more about how are the teams going to "make it happen" in the market. I didn't see a lot of innovation on that front. In fact I think that Steve Blank would have had the cold shivers contemplating a couple of slides that showed sales force ramping up early in the game. Smack! smack! Can't you hear the spooky music?

Apart from that, here it goes a big cheer for an awesome student-organized event. Great presenters, very professional teams and as I said, outstanding PhD and MBA horsepower, in all the cases directly connected to UC Berkeley. It made me proud of being part of this university and Haas in particular. And congratulations to the winners!!!

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