Docs win George Washington business plan competition

By Nicole Norfleet
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 19, 2010

Crying babies. Hurried nurses. "This is my office," said David Mathison, an emergency physician at the Children's National Medical Center, as he explained the rationale behind his proposed business -- creating videos for emergency care patients explaining their diagnoses and prescriptions.

The videos would replace traditional paper discharges, allowing people to play important instructions when patients need them.

After two days of firm handshakes, detailed PowerPoints and a dozen sales pitches, a panel of judges on Friday chose Mathison and his team of MDs as the winners of George Washington University's annual business plan competition. Their startup, HealthEworks, won $20,000 in seed money.

"We are very excited about the opportunity, and we are thrilled to take it," Mathison, an instructor of pediatrics at the university .

Other winners from the competition were: ScentShots, a team using aromatherapy packets to help curb hunger pangs and increase energy; Karmen, an idea by a business student to import Angus cattle for meat consumption to his native country of Turkey; and AEC, Inc., a company dedicated to personal security training for intelligence personnel.

The prize announcement came at the conclusion of the university's first Summit on Entrepreneurship, a two-day event sponsored by the business school, George Washington's Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence, the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the alumni association.

Business student Ari Menase, a senior, said he was surprised when he made it to the final round.

"I knew that they weren't all undergraduates so I'm against graduate students and GW alumni," he said. "One team had an ex-CIA agent on their team. I'm competing against really experienced people. But [the judges] liked it."

With financial assistance from his father, Menase plans on importing 300 pregnant Angus cows from Australia to breed in Turkey and sell to hotels and fine restaurants in Istanbul.

The summit included panels, lunches and a keynote speech by business school alum Matt Jacobson, partner at investment firm LaunchBox Digital. Last year, the business competition and the school's Entrepreneurs Roundtable were separate events. John Rollins, the director of the business plan competition and a GW professor of entrepreneurshipsaid combining the two gave competitors a chance to network with local business people who could partner with them in the future.

About 100 contestants submitted entries in February, Rollins said. Teams were then judged by their business plans, narrowing the field to eight semifinalists who presented their ideas and were critiqued on their oral skills. Competing teams couldn't number more than four people, and at least 50 percent of the members of each team had to be George Washington alumni or current students. One member of the team needed to be currently enrolled.

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