Onya Baby product strapped onto a mother, holding a baby.

Second Place Silicon Valley Business Plan Competition Winner Gains Industry Support

Onya Baby product strapped onto a mother, holding a baby.

The patent-pending integrated chair harness and support system is what sets Onya Baby apart from the competition (Aleshia Rickard photo).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

When Aleshia Rickard, second place winner at the 2012 Silicon Valley Business Plan Competition, was asked to partner with her sister-in-law on a baby carrier business three years ago, it was an offer she could not refuse.

“I was able to utilize my background in the sports industry and my contacts to help bring the baby carrier to more of a final, market-ready, sellable product,” said Rickard, ’12 Business Administration with a Concentration in Entrepreneurship.

Onya Baby, which won the $5,000 Larry Boucher Second Prize, makes soft-structured baby carriers designed to help families with young children retain their active, social lifestyles.

According to Rickard, Onya Baby’s patent-pending integrated chair harness and support system is what sets Onya Baby apart from its competition.

“I travel a lot and it’s been really helpful to have family meals together,” said customer Osha Maloney. “I’ve also tried other carriers and the shoulder straps are just not as comfortable.”

The product is gaining momentum in the industry just nine months into launch. Onya Baby has already won two gold awards for new baby gear including a Mom’s Choice Award and a National Parenting Publication Award.

Entering the business plan competition gave Rickard a chance to fine-tune her business plan and take a look at how she’s doing.

“It gave me a lot of confidence that I was doing the proper things at the right time and that I have a good strategy,” Rickard said.

Rickard plans to use the $5,000 prize money toward trade show booths for October’s ABC Kids Expo, the largest industry trade show in the world being held in Louisville, KY.

Business Plan Competition Winner Leverages Pinterest's Success

Biz Plan Winner Leverages Pinterest's Success

Business Plan Competition Winner Leverages Pinterest's Success

Judges Larry Boucher, CEO and Founder, Alacritech; Ed Oates, Co-founder, Oracle Corporation; Bill Barton, former Senior Vice President and CFO, Granite Construction, Inc.; Dan Doles, Co-Founder, Connexive, Inc.; and Dave Hadden, Co-founder, Arlo Inc. (photo courtesy of Anu Basu).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

The top-prize winner at the 2012 Silicon Valley Business Plan Competition is capitalizing on the boom in social business to launch a new venture with a novel role.

Pintics, which scored the $10,000 Bill Barton First Prize, would provide the over 500 nationwide brands on Pinterest with tools to analyze and optimize traffic.

According to founder and SJSU alumnus Francisco Guerrero, Pintics is the only site tracking the best performing pins by traffic generated, sales, and viral activity.

Pintics is tracking over half a million images from Pinterest business users, up from 50,000 less than one month ago. Pinterest, an online pinboard, recently raised $100 million from investors, and is estimated to be worth $1.5 billion.

SJSU’s College of Business is exploring the possibility of the university becoming an equity partner with Pintics as it moves forward with incorporation, and continues to grow.

“San Jose State is reinventing the way publicly-funded higher education and entrepreneurs partner to commercialize ideas,” said Professor and Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship Director Anu Basu.

And the winners are…

Here is a complete list of Silicon Valley Business Plan Competition winners:

  • Bill Barton First Prize award: $10,000 to Francisco Guerrero for Pintics
  • Larry Boucher Second Prize Award: $5,000 to Aleshia Rickard for Onya Baby
  • Dan Doles 3rd Prize Award: $2,500 to Amy Cesari for Gluten Free Bakery of Santa Cruz
  • Best Written Business Plan Award (sponsored by Dave Hadden): $500 to Uriel Chavez for Cantaritos

Four more finalists each received a solid state storage drive valued at $100, provided by alumnus and sponsor Matt Ready of Sandforce/LSI.

The competition is open to everyone who has studied or works at San Jose State. For more information, contact Dr. Anu Basu at anu.basu@sjsu.edu.

"Hemp Plastic Water Bottles" Steals the Show at Innovation Challenge

“Hemp Plastic Water Bottles” Steals the Show at Innovation Challenge

Junior JD Leadam stands to the left of his project poster board for Hemp Plastic Water Bottles presented his idea to a passerby. Poster board includes a picture of the design and an explanation of his project

Junior business major J.D. Leadam won first place in several categories at the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge for his entry, Hemp Plastic Water Bottles (Dillon Adams photo).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

Nearly 200 Spartans competed Dec. 1 in the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge, including junior business major J.D. Leadam, who took first place in several categories, winning $2,000.

“I learned that if I truly believe in an idea, then I can sell anyone on it,” Leadam said.

Leadam won Most Innovative Idea, Best Elevator Pitch, and People’s Choice awards for his entry, “Hemp Plastic Water Bottles,” an idea that replaces single-use water bottles with biodegradable plastic water bottles made from industrial hemp.

“Regular water bottles will release toxins over time and when they are buried in our landfills, they last for all eternity,” Leadam said. “We want to replace them with bottles made out of hemp, which are 100 percent safe and biodegradable.”

Leadam plans on entering the Silicon Valley Business Plan Competition this spring, using the money that he won from the challenge to make a prototype and contact manufacturers in China.

“I am really looking to make this happen,” he said.

Teaching Innovation

Other projects included ePrepared, an online community providing counseling sources for high school and college students; Applications Complete, an innovative way to track everyday receipts; and Spherical Drive System, a new concept for a motorcycle designed to balance like a Segway.

This was the first time The Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship, within the College of Business, extended its signature fall event to all majors.

Undergraduate and graduate students, as well as  alumni from all seven colleges participated. President Mohammad Qayoumi and College of Business Dean David Steele presented the winning awards.

“I think that we were successful in creating a cross-disciplinary collaboration for our first year,” SVCE Director Anuradha Basu said.

Industry Professionals

Over 25 community members helped with judging the exhibits and the elevator pitch contest. They included 11 CEOs/founders, two attorneys, two angel investors, two venture capitalists, a banker, and four managers from Cisco and Intel. Around 10 judges were SJSU alumni.

Included on the panel of judges were Arlo Inc. Co-founder Dave Hadden and Tower Foundation of SJSU Board Member Wanda Ginner, who headed her own independent CPA firm for several decades.

“I noticed that the personal appearance and presentations of the students were better than last year, and the elevator pitches were significantly better,” Ginner said. “I just had the feeling that the students were really invested.”

Hadden felt his experience was his biggest contribution.

“Without being critical, we can point out things to help students,” he said. “You could tell having a real world experience was meaningful to them.”

Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge Expands Outreach Campuswide

Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge Opens to All Majors

Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge Expands Outreach Campuswide

Park It, a mobile parking application for the smartphone, won first place last year in the People's Choice category.

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

The Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship, which has developed a strong reputation within the College of Business for nurturing innovation, is seeking to expand its signature fall event with a new name and campuswide organizing committee.

“I’ve always been passionate about cross-community collaboration, and I believe that for truly successive innovation, you need collaboration across all disciplines,” SVCE Director Anuradha Basu said. “I am hoping we will achieve this with input from all the colleges.”

The Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge was founded in 2004 as the Neat Ideas Fair. Jan English-Lueck, College of Social Sciences associate dean, is a new member of the event’s organizing committee. She expects the challenge to encourage students in her college to think creatively about solving community problems.

“The product that we make as a social scientist may not be a thing, it may be a service,” English-Lueck said. “Any neat ideas we have about how to help people help themselves — this is an opportunity to make those ideas real.”

With this in mind, the organizing committee has set a goal of doubling the number of participants from last year’s 90 teams.

“In the longer term, we would like hundreds of teams to participate,” Basu said. “The more submissions we have, the greater the chance that some of the ideas will be promising enough to be turned into business plans, and eventually, into viable businesses.”

Experience and Neworking

Feedback from the judges was the most valuable aspect of the competition, said senior management information systems major Brian Orlando, a member of the team that won last year’s People Choice award for Park It, a mobile parking application.

“Experience and networking are why I encourage people to do it, “ Orlando said. “It is so hard to get a job in today’s world, but if you know someone, they can find you a job.”

The Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge will be held Dec. 1 in the Student Union’s Barrett Ballroom. Registration is open to all students and alumni. The deadline for entries is Nov. 16.

A woman sitting in the Rochair, a manual wheelchair that won the Silicon Valley Business Competition for 2010

Wheelchair Whiz Inspires Silicon Valley Business Plan Competition Entrants

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

A woman sitting in the Rochair, a manual wheelchair that won the Silicon Valley Business Competition for 2010

Last year's Silicon Valley Business Plan Competition winner was RotaMobility for the RoChair, a manual wheelchair designed to keep its user healthy.

Do you have an idea for a business? SJSU entrepreneurs, innovators, job-seekers and business- savvy students will see if they have what it takes to turn their business plans into reality at this year’s Silicon Valley Business Plan Competition, culminating May 26.

The annual competition, now in its ninth year, aims to promote innovation at SJSU, reward student participation in new venture creation, and boost appreciation of SJSU’s contribution to entrepreneurship in the Silicon Valley, according to Anu Basu, director of the Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship within the College of Business.

“It’s an opportunity to get feedback from judges, professors, peers, and industry professionals on ideas,” Basu said.

The competition, open to all SJSU students, alumni, faculty and staff, have yielded approximately 60 entrants this year, including majors and professionals in the fields of computer science, biotech, engineering, business and hospitality.  Cash awards range from $500 for Best Written Business Plan to $10,000 for the grand prize, The Wanda Ginner Award.

Last year’s first place winner Michael Bayne, an alumnus with an MBA and master’s in systems engineering, won for his business plan for Rota Mobility Inc., a company that builds RoChair and RoTrike manual wheelchairs.

Bayne’s original idea had come from a family member who was prescribed a wheelchair. He observed the family member experiencing shoulder and wrist pain related to pushing the wheels, in addition to gaining weight from not being able to enjoy the benefits of exercise that most of us take for granted. Bayne then came up with the idea of a lever-propelled wheelchair that uses a rowing-type propulsion, eliminating injuries and providing ease in maneuverability.

“Having the ability to incorporate routine exercise and the stigma of being put in a scooter – there are a lot of things that apply to having a good-looking, well-functioning ergonomically sound ride.” Bayne said.

Bayne used the money that he won from the competition to pay for the prototypes and has been demonstrating his products wherever he goes. His advice for incoming competitors this year?

“The judges are looking to award those who simply don’t treat their presentations as a school report, but as something they would really pursue,” Bayne said.

Andy Tram at the entreprenuerial fair.

Student Entrepreneurs Showcase Business Ideas at Joint Venture Silicon Valley Conference

Recent graduate Andy Tran (right) discusses his startup with a local business leader.

Recent graduate Andy Tran (right) discusses his startup with a local business leader.

By Pat Lopes Harris
Media Relations Director

Young entrepreneurs feast on exposure and advice. So when a professor invited recent graduate and budding businessman Andy Tran to set up a booth outside a Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network conference, he accepted immediately. Continue reading