Business Plan Competition at UC Davis Awards $15,000

A software company that markets its product line as the "silver bullet to alleviate the pain" that businesses experience trying to manage their research and development investments has won $10,000 in a new business plan competition organized by MBA students at the University of California, Davis. Emergent Software, a San Francisco firm with an office in Dublin, Ireland, won first place in the Big Bang! Business Plan Competition, designed to promote entrepreneurship, innovation and hands-on learning. The company's software, aimed at remedying the breakdown of collaboration between innovators and business people in organizations, facilitates the tracking and control of a product's progress in development. Emergent is initially targeting the telecommunication and high-technology industries where effective research and development investment can make or break a company, product life cycles are short, time to market is critical and organizations change rapidly. Emergent's team members are Jennifer Reichard, chief executive officer and co-founder; David Kenny, vice president of product development and co-founder; Penelope Flinn, chief financial officer; and Kenneth Smith, who is vice president of sales and marketing and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from UC Davis. A panel of 10 venture capitalists from the Sacramento region and the Bay Area, including four UC Davis alumni, served as judges and selected the first- and second-place winners in the final round. Results were announced at the final event of the competition on campus Thursday evening. "This is great for us," said Reichard, emphasizing the benefits of getting time in front of the venture capitalists. "We've got two definite venture capital meetings with judges who are interested in investing in the software area, and they approached us. I'm delighted because this is going to give us the boost that we need to hopefully get over the finish line." Second place and $3,000 was awarded to VisualCalc of El Dorado Hills, which licenses and customizes Web-based software to help financial services providers present data in visual and dynamic ways. Team members are Amit Mazumdar, chief executive officer; Govinda "Reddy" Karempudi, chief technology officer; and Herman Chao, a business development consultant who holds both a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and a Master of Business Administration degree from UC Davis. "The two winning teams really stood out in terms of the viability of their business and the rigor by which they thought through what they are doing," said Harry Laswell of Intel Capital in Folsom and one of the judges. As the audience's favorite, Scalable Life Sciences of Palo Alto, won the People's Choice award and $2,000. The company is focused on developing and licensing genetic technologies that increase plant size, yield and hardiness, and it plans to first target pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. Team members are Terence Lin, head of research and development and a second-year student at the UC Davis School of Medicine; Joseph Schlesselman, a graduate student at Stanford University; and Dr. Steven Kim of Stanford University, who discovered the foundation for the technology. The four other finalists were: * of Sacramento, which offers continuing education for professionals using interactive, streaming media technology; * Crosspipe of Folsom, which helps companies develop and maintain databases through a suite of six Web-based products and services; * OptoMedical Diagnostics of Elk Grove, which develops tools and methods for diagnosing cancer using optical technology; * and TerraGenomics, which is developing genetic technologies for use in chemical research and development and toxicology monitoring. K.C. Kanaan, co-chair of the competition, said all competitors gained from the involvement of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, professional service providers and business leaders. "Teams learned from the experience and counsel of the mentors and workshop leaders, and they received valuable feedback from the judges," said Kanaan, also an MBA student in UC Davis' Graduate School of Management. After the competition's launch in October, students from the management school organized a series of workshops to help competitors craft business plans based on marketable ideas. The competition was open to teams with at least one UC Davis student or graduate. Thirty-two teams submitted executive summaries of their business plans in late January, and 16 qualifiers were asked to submit complete business plans in March. Following a review of the business plans, seven teams were selected to make half-hour presentations before judges Wednesday and before a public audience Thursday. Kanaan said he was pleased with the diverse industries represented by the finalists: two biotechnology start-ups, three software enterprises, a streaming media applications venture and another company developing technology to help save the lives of people with cancer. Throughout the competition, judges were asked to evaluate the summaries, plans and presentations as they would for ventures funded by their firms. The final judging panel included partners from Accel Venture Partners, Sofinnova Ventures, Versant Ventures, Intel Capital, Sequoia Capital, IDG Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Mohr Davidow Ventures, Global Catalyst Partners and regional players Akers Capital and Granite Bay Ventures. About 25 firms provided financial sponsorship, led workshops, groomed the teams or judged the competition. For more information on the competition and finalists, visit the Big Bang! Web site at

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Julia Ann Easley, General news (emphasis: business, K-12 outreach, education, law, government and student affairs), 530-752-8248,