On Tuesday, March 30, students from the three Finalist Teams in the 2020-21 Albers-SJIM Virtual Business Plan Competition pitched their ideated solutions to judges, institutional representatives, and audience members.
Now in its fourth year, the Albers-SJIM Virtual Business Plan Competition gives Seattle University students the opportunity to collaborate with students from St. Joseph’s Institute of Management (SJIM) in Bangalore, India, to create a business solution for a pressing social problem. Teams made of mixed students from Albers and SJIM addressed the issue of universal digital inclusion.
Teams pitched their business solutions via Zoom to a panel of judges in Seattle - where it was 8:00pm on Tuesday. Each team had 15 minutes to present their plan, and after all teams have presented, the judges gave each team a set of questions to answer. Then, each team connected in their respective breakout rooms for 20 minutes to formulate a response. After all teams responded to the question posed by the judges; the winner was announced.
Congratulations to Luke Hamlin and his team for taking home the grand prize for this year! Luke is an MBA graduate at the Albers School of Business and Economics.
Luke and his team’s business idea is a company called Judiye. This company’s products focus on bringing farmers up to the digital forefront, educating the masses about using internet and its benefits, especially children deserving of educational tools and resources.
Here is a bit more about Judiye and the international experience in Luke’s own words:
Q1) What made you decide that you wanted to participate in the Albers-SJIM Business Plan Competition?
A) I was looking to connect all my MBA class experiences in a competition that pulls it all together. The opportunity to work with fellow MBA peers in India was also a highlight as we built our team to a strong performing cohort by the end of the competition.
Q2) Tell us about your business.
A) Our business was called, Judiye, which translates to "Connect" in the English language. Our goal to connect people with the universal digital world who have been excluded from this access. Our products focus on bringing farmers up to the digital forefront, educating the masses about using the internet and its benefits, especially children deserving of educational tools and resources. We have two products that we plan to roll-out in rural India: 1) Farmer's Automat and 2) Rotunda Trucks. The Farmer's Automat is a kiosk that also offers internet near the surrounding areas, but its main purpose is to connect farmers with resources and digital tools that support them. The Rotunda Truck is a mobile internet service that allows communities and children to experience digital access but also bring community together in rural town centers for movies at night and much more.
Q3) What were some of your biggest challenges in this competition? How did you overcome them?
A) The first challenge that is also the beauty in entrepreneurship is the ideation of our idea. Our team spent several meetings bringing ideas to the team and then discussing their social impact, total addressable market and feasibility. We actually made several minor pivots over the following month of writing our business plan as we found out more about the rural market in India. This is something all start-ups and new venture businesses experience as well. Another challenge worth noting was the time zone difference of 13 hours from Seattle - India time. I was grateful to work with SJIM MBA teammates who were up at all hours of the day and we made that barely a problem at all. Thanks WhatsApp!
Q4) What were the most rewarding aspects of the competition?
A) The most rewarding aspect of the competition was the night of our final round of presentations and seeing three months of hard work pay off. Not only was the satisfaction in seeing our plan resonate with the judges but also to see the work of our team displayed in both written business plan and presentation. I enjoyed working with classmates from across the globe to address a problem that is still in need of being solved.
Q5) What advice would you give to a student who wants to enter the Albers-SJIM Business Plan Competition in the future?
A) I wish I did this in each of the three years while getting my MBA. The real-world applications of creating and strategizing a business plan to formulating a team could not get any more real. The work at times can be tough but as someone who is getting or thinking about an MBA, this should not turn anyone away.