The Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M University was bustling on Feb. 18 with business and community leaders serving as judges for the 2019 MBA Venture Challenge. Fourteen teams of Full-Time MBA students eagerly awaited their time to shine in front of the judging panels with the hope that they would take home 1st place at this year’s competition.

The MBA Venture Challenge is an annual competition held in partnership between the Mays MBA Program and the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship. The 2019 MBA Venture Challenge wrapped up its 18th year with three winning teams going home with a total of $10,000.

The winning teams – announced at a networking and awards reception immediately after the Venture Challenge – are:

  • First Place: Hasan Ahmed, Ahad Azimuddin, Hang Quan, Shelley Ruohonen, Jordan Williams; Medicinbox LLC
    • $5,000 sponsored by the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Second Place: Mark Dearden, Ahmed Ibrahim, Korbin King, Michael Reasor; VoCo
    • $3,000 sponsored by the Aggie Angel Network
  • Third Place: John Buancore, Cole Dietz, Clyde Fomunung, Chris Raman, Koki Tobita; Krueger Labs, Inc.
    • $2,000 sponsored by Fibertown
  • Elevator Pitch: Mark Dearden, Ahmed Ibrahim, Korbin King, Michael Reasor; VoCo
    • $500 sponsored by Mays Business School

Prior to competition day, each team was tasked with developing a financial/competitive analysis on current and future market and growth strategies for real-world companies. On competition day, they presented their results to the judges who would then evaluate whether the teams carried out an adequate analysis.

An annual tradition

Each year the MBA Venture Challenge creates high-stakes competition between teams for both sponsored cash awards and significant bragging rights. Additionally, the competition provides networking opportunities as well as high-value insights for participating firms.

While the MBA teams were allotted only two weeks of direct contact with their assigned company representatives, they were provided feedback and direction from industry and university mentors, including the MBA program faculty members and volunteer entrepreneurs.

“The MBA Venture Challenge (VC) is an incredibly unique component of the Texas A&M Full-Time MBA program,” said Full-Time MBA Program Director Richard Castleberry. “’VC’ simultaneously benefits the MBA students and participating startup ventures by allowing the MBA students to utilize the skills/knowledge they have learned in the classroom and then transferring it to their venture companies in the form of consulting advice and recommendations. The knowledge obtained throughout the two-week ‘VC’ gives the MBA students real insight into what challenges, opportunities, and decisions startup ventures face which will be invaluable for them in their post-program careers, and gives the venture companies quality information they can use to guide their future moves.”

This year’s competition took on a slightly different structure from past years. The 14 teams competing were assigned to three rooms, each with their own judging panel. In total, the day-long competition includes over three rounds of judging by an audience of experienced judges from McFerrin Center’s network of business, academic and entrepreneurial community leaders. Each round required the teams to present a concise yet in-depth analysis of the start-up and provide meaningful recommendations for future company success. Teams had an additional opportunity to take home an award during the Elevator Pitch portion of the competition. For the final round of judging, the top 5 teams of the day gave one final presentation in the Gates Ballroom of the Memorial

“Now in its 18th year, the MBA Venture Challenge has clearly set the standard for high-intensity and high-impact interaction between student teams and startup ventures,” said Blake Petty, director of the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship. “The analysis provided by these outstanding MBAs has proven to be immediately invaluable to the participating companies, and there is simply no better way to expose our students to the real-life challenges of entrepreneurship than to immerse them into a startup…even if only for two weeks.”

  • For those companies or judges interested in participating in the 2020 MBA Venture Challenge, be on the lookout for application information to begin circulating in November 2019.

Learn more about the results of previous MBA Venture Challenge competitions.