BYU Team Wins International Business Model Competition at Harvard

May 28 2013


IBMC 2013 Winners
From l to r: Owlet team members Jordan Monroe, Tanor Hodges, Zack Bomsta, Kurt Workman, Jacob Colvin and Chase Roberts win the 2013 IBMC at Harvard

Brigham Young University’s Owlet Baby Monitors team wins big again after taking first place and $25,000 at this year’s International Business Model Competition held at Harvard, bringing their total competition winnings to $163,000.

The Owlet team’s trip to the IBMC was sponsored by the Marriott School of Management’s Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology and marks their fifth top-placement at prestigious entrepreneur competitions this season. Other top finishes include Chapman University’s California Dreamin’ entrepreneur event, the Rice Business Plan Competition and first-place finishes at the BYU Miller New Venture Challenge and the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge.

“We were very excited we were able to win with such tough competition,” says Jordan Monroe, a business management major from Burley, Idaho, and member of the Owlet team. “We worked hard to prepare and feel very fortunate it paid off. Our next step is to carry this momentum into the summer and make some initial sales.”

Owlet produces sock-like baby monitors which provide parents with real-time information concerning their child’s vital signs, including oxygen levels and heart rate, via a smartphone. The Owlet team developed the idea as a way to prevent infant deaths and will launch its venture with award money.

Founded three years ago by BYU’s Marriott School of Management and co-sponsored by Harvard and Stanford, the IBMC awards student entrepreneurs for testing and validating their business models with real, potential customers. Based on feedback, teams adjust their models to increase the likelihood of success.

“We have seen an exponential growth in interest and participation in the IBMC which suggests this competition has immense value for universities and entrepreneurs,” says Nathan Furr, Marriott School professor and IBMC co-founder.

Students from 143 schools and 10 countries participated in this year’s event, held at Harvard’s Innovation Lab. Twenty-eight teams advanced to Boston for the semi-final round and were judged by a panel of local investment professionals. The winner was selected by IBMC founders Steve Blank, co-author of the Startup Owner’s Manual; Tom Eisenmann, professor of entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School; Furr, co-author of Nail It Then Scale it and Alex Osterwalder, co-creator of the Business Model Canvas.

“Our judges wrote the book on entrepreneurship,” says Monroe. “To have them judge our model and love it was very rewarding.”

The IBMC awarded teams more than $75,000 in combined cash prizes at the event. Finalists included Owlet and FiberFix from BYU, Fairweather Chef from Harvard and Balance from Pontifical Catholic University, of Chile.

BYU had five other teams represented at the event including Givifi, Lunch Box, Panx Solutions, The Shot Coach, and Vacation Races. Of these, Panx Solutions and Vacation Races each won $2,000 and honorable mention, with all other participating teams receiving $1,000.

“By leading the way in this event, BYU is establishing itself as a credible thought leader in the entrepreneurial world,” Furr says.

BYU will host the 2014 IBMC. To learn more about the competition or how to apply next year, visit businessmodelcompetition.com.

The International Business Model Competition is the first and largest competition of its kind by rewarding student entrepreneurs for testing and validating all aspects of their business model with real, potential customers in a lean approach. Conceived at Brigham Young University in 2010, the annual event is co-sponsored by BYU, Harvard and Stanford, and is open to all student entrepreneur teams in the world.

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: Krista Hiatt and Brett Lee