Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Zeopane - CMU Update

I know this update has been long overdue. I was just too busy catching up with friends in Pittsburgh, Columbus and all over the US and to some extent sulking over the CMU Results. Zeopane along with 11 other teams could not make it to the final round or even the challenge round. This might sound like a huge negative - but it really isn't.

In hind sight, we definitely had come up with a great product and a decent presentation. There were a few major issues with the business plan itself which were pointed out to us. And this feedback and the contacts we made is probably the greatest take-away from the competition. For future students, when looking for a product, you will need to look for a product in your area of strength. Pharma / Medicine wasn't any of our subjects of specialization and Diabetes / Insulin wasn't too except that I have more than a handful of diabetics in my extended family. This definitely hurt us to a great extent (not having someone with the tech expertise in there). Although I was able to answer most of their technical questions, I think having the expert speaking would have been a lot more effective.

Pharma was definitely one of the tougher tracks to be in. There were some really good teams in the Pharma track along with ours that didn't make it through to the next round.

Our team not having anyone familiar with the drug-approval mechanism in the US was definitely a weakness. Some of the terms like the 510(K) approval - our team hadn't even heard of it. On the other hand, some teams had already met the FDA and sought their views on how they should seek approval for their products.

And looking at the other presentations, one other huge weakness was not having the inventor alongside us. This greatly shows the inventor's commitment to the cause and the company (especially if he comes all the way from Hong Kong). We are now trying to convince Prof Yeung to accompany us to Rice since we do not have a faculty advisor for the competition since Prof. Larry is already in the US teaching in Darden.

One of the other suggestions we got from one of the judges was that we should probably just focus on manufacturing the microneedles and let the specialist pharma companies decide where they want to use it. The only problem we have with that approach is how to convince the Pharma companies that this works.

Overall, some great feedback, lot of learning and the realization that HKUST has a long way to go in terms of even being close to a good school for entrepreneurship. HKUST does not claim to be big on entrepreneurship. But just what being a good school for entrepreneurship dawned on me during the competition looking at the other teams, their commitment to their product, the huge investments they had made (more than hundred thousand dollars) and how much further they were into making their product commercially viable.

Looking forward to leveraging some of this feedback and giving an improved performance in Rice.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Asia Moot Corp 2008

We could have won everything, but we had to leave a little something for the others. In the end, we walked away with:

Winner - Best Presentation
Winner - Best Written Business Plan
Winner - UBS 60-second Elevator Pitch
A whole lot of experience
A whole lot of contacts
A feeling of pride

It was truly an amazing B-school experience that no one should miss out on. One that really shakes your core beliefs of what business is all about. The buzz we were able to create amongst the press, judges, and general audience was amazing for us, our product and HKUST.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Monoxidize Saves

This is a big part of the HKUST experience. HKUST is not known to be a school that is strong on entrepreneurship, but supporting teams to participate in business plan and case competitions is really something that the staff and students throw their best efforts and all available resources towards. Everything including the kitchen sink.

Building a Business Plan is something I have wanted to do since my dot com days. The idea that you can create ideas and value from the ground up is one of my romantic business school dreams. Tomorrow it will be put to the test as my team head to the Asia Moot Competition in Bangkok.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

Rice and CMU - Two B-Plans / One Team

Just heard from Rice University, Texas that Zeopane, our company has been accepted into their business plan competition. We are really excited about it. This seems to be a great week. Here's an excerpt from their mail.

"Congratulations! ZEOPANE Microneedles has been invited to compete in the 2008 Rice University Business Plan Competition! This year we have had a tremendous response, receiving over 280 intents from graduate programs across the world.

As one of only 36 teams selected, you will be able to compete with teams from top programs for a Grand Prize package of over $225,000; a total of 52 cash prizes will be awarded raising the competition total to over $600,000.

In addition, you will have the unmatched opportunity to meet and network with over 160 venture capital principals, early stage investors, and successful entrepreneurs who will serve as judges for the competition. Winners from previous years were offered additional seed funding from these judge/investors."

The only thing that we are not too happy about is the school insisting on us having to split our teams instead of allowing us to go for both. Hard decisions to follow. Will keep you, the readers posted.