BYU Team Wins International Business Model Competition

A Brigham Young University student business may have created the perfect solution for those who are always searching in vain for a parking spot. At the second-annual International Business Model Competition, XoomPark won the grand prize of $12,000 cash for its idea of a parking reservation website. XoomPark bested five other teams at the competition, sponsored by the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.

"This year we had an amazing set of teams, and I'm excited to see the businesses that will come out of this competition," says Nathan Furr, entrepreneur professor and BMC judge. "The Business Model Competition represents a new and growing wave of entrepreneurial thinking and a better way to build a business."

At the competition the finalists, including teams from Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley, presented before a panel of judges and a live audience by explaining how they tested their hypotheses and made changes to their business models. The finalists were judged on the evolving process of establishing a business and how well their model addressed potential customers' needs.

Rollins Center director Scott Petersen, professor Nathan Furr and Dean Cornia present Ken Frei with his prize.
Rollins Center director Scott Petersen, professor Nathan Furr and Dean Cornia present Ken Frei with his prize.
"The competition rewards student business founders for identifying and validating the assumptions they make when setting up their companies," says Jeff Brown, Rollins Center assistant director. "Instead of assuming what potential customers want, the business model approach forces founders to get outside and meet with customers upfront to gain insight before spending time and capital on moving the company forward." 

Universities from around the world were invited to participate by either holding a qualifier competition or by having their student teams submit an application. Overall, the competition received more than fifty submissions.

Nearly $30,000 cash was awarded to the finalists. Second place was given to Harvard team Excelegrade, an online software tool for teachers. Third and fourth places were awarded to BYU teams AutoBid, which provides insurance estimates to auto body shops, and FlexLeg, a company offering prosthetic braces for injured legs. MPrep from University of California, Berkeley won fifth place with its model, which gives students in Africa educational materials through mobile phones.

The International Business Model Competition was founded at BYU in 2011 and is the first business competition of its kind to use the business model format to reward student businesses for customer validation. Next year the International Business Model Competition will be held at Harvard.

Ken Frei, co-founder of XoomPark and a business management major from Idaho Falls, Idaho, says participating in the event gave teams exposure and feedback that they wouldn't have received otherwise.

"It was an awesome event," Frei says. "Participating in this competition helped us think more critically about what we were doing at XoomPark and refine our business model so it better fits our customers."

Renowned entrepreneur and BMC judge Steve Blank says he was pleased with the quality of the entries and expects the reputation of the competition to continue to spread as more entrepreneurs adopt the business model theory.

"Entrepreneurship is the leading force behind creating jobs," Blank says. "This Business Model Competition is a part of that."

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, public management, information systems and entrepreneurship. The school's mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School's graduate and undergraduate programs.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Janet Barton