David Perdue (left), chairman and CEO of Dollar General Corporation, poses with members of the ImmersiTech team, which won the 2005 Georgia Tech Business Plan Competition.
When athletes hurt their heads during play, tests to determine whether they can return to action often aren't any more sophisticated than asking, "How many fingers am I holding up?"
ImmersiTech, winner of the top award in the College of Management's 2005 Georgia Tech Business Plan Competition Feb. 25, could change that with its advanced neurological-testing technology to quickly assess the severity of brain injuries on the sidelines or in other chaotic environments.
Making the right call about a concussion during a sporting event is extremely important because of the potential for fatal consequences, says ImmersiTech President Jeff Ramsaur, who shared the $10,000 prize for best overall plan with his fellow MBA students Carrie Coker, Rosie Kwok and Ree'L Street.
In addition to organized sports, applications for their company's patent-pending technology, which involves the use of a virtual-reality visor, include the early detection of Alzheimer's disease and assessment of brain injuries in emergency departments.
Participation in the annual Business Plan Competition is open to all Georgia Tech students and alumni who've graduated within the last five years. Started in 2001, the competition is intended primarily as an educational exercise, but it often leads to the creation of real technology-based businesses.
"I think it's been one of the best learning experiences I've had as an MBA student because it's built on everything I've learned from accounting to marketing to finance to strategy," says Ramsaur, who'd like to take his team's technology, which is still being tested, all the way to the marketplace.
Five teams made the final round in the competition, which was sponsored by Definition 6, HLB Gross Collins P.C., Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough L.L.P., and Imlay Investments Inc. ViraSURE, which is commercializing technology enabling early detection of viral pathogens like HIV, won second place ($3,000). Its team includes Delfi Krishna, Jamie Chilton, Nimisha Gupta and Cindy Jung, who are all doctoral students in various types of bioengineering. Frontier Sensors, led by MBA students Mike Orndorff and Dave Beck, won third place ($2,000) for its innovative sensor technology.
Frontier Sensors also won first place (a $15,000 service package) in the Most Fundable category, which goes to the team most ready to enter the marketplace. The runner-up in this category was Intelligent Nutraceutical Company of America (INCA), which received a $10,000 package. INCA includes Heard Robertson, BS '04, as well as several members who are unaffiliated with Georgia Tech.
INCA and Locate on Demand, whose technology allows companies to affordably track assets, were recognized as finalists in the overall competition with awards of $500 apiece. Locate on Demand's Drew Evangelista, Quintin Gregor and Kerry Lyon are all 2004 graduates of the Executive Master of Science in Management of Technology program. ImmersiTech won $500 in the Elevator Pitch contest, in which each team had only one minute to sell their business concept - the amount of time they might have in an elevator with a potential investor.
David Perdue, chairman and CEO of Dollar General Corporation, was the keynote speaker for the competition. Final-round judges included Tony Antoniades, general manager of the Advanced Technology Development Center; Steven Gross, principal of HLB Gross Collins PC; Paul Hernacki, vice president of Definition 6; Larry Huang, partner with Sabel Partners LLC; investor Mary Madden; Sig Mosley, chairman of Imlay Investments Inc., Glenn Sturm, partner with Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP; and Bill Oakes of Acorn Investments.