Booth India Club Creates New Competition to Help Develop Business Ideas

Published on February 27, 2010

Home Docs captured the “best presentation” award in the first India Business Idea Competition because the team’s proposal provides a perfect solution to a major problem for consumers in India, said Prabhakar Reddy, managing partner at Global Fuzion Group, LLC. “They still have a long way to go identifying the logistical operational issues, but conceptually it’s fantastic,” said Reddy, one of six judges in the competition finals at Gleacher Center on February 27.

Shantanu Chandra and Shrikant Raman, students in the Evening MBA Program, proposed Home Docs as a subscription service delivering non-emergency home medical care in Indian metropolitan areas through mobile units. “Traffic congestion is a problem that is very common, so it would appeal immediately to people in India’s metros,” Chandra said.

That congestion and the chaos it causes make all retail and service businesses local in India, said fellow judge Scott Meadow, clinical professor of entrepreneurship. “If you believe this is the case, then the consumer becomes either extremely brand loyal or price sensitive, so Home Docs has potential because it supplies a central service in a convenient fashion,” Meadow said.

Five teams presented proposals in the finals after four months of preparation and early-stage competition. Other judges in the finals included Dhiraj Rajaram, ’03, CEO of MuSigma; Linda Darragh, director of entrepreneurship programs at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship; Pradeep Chintagunta, Robert Law Professor of Marketing; and Arvind Singh, ’76, CEO of Utopia Inc.

Whealth, a women’s health social media group similar to Weight Watchers in the U.S., won the best idea award. “Their presentation was very professionally done,” Reddy said. “They thought through their whole process. They answered the judges’ questions very well. They were well prepared, and for that reason their presentation was very well done.”

To prepare for its presentation, Whealth team members asked themselves the types of questions a venture capital firm might ask before investing in their idea, said Smita Vadlamani, a first-year student in the Full-Time MBA Program, who presented the proposal during the finals. “We tried to be sure we were able to convey the idea in a very short, one-slide description,” Vadlamani said. “We tried to make sure we had thought through all of the financial and operational details. We asked as many tough questions as we could.”

The student-led Booth India Club founded the competition to provide a platform to test India-focused business ideas on judges familiar with the economic conditions of the Indian market, said Kamesh Vemu, a student in the Weekend MBA Program and co-chair of the student-led group. “Essentially, we wanted to give students a platform to put together a business idea – not really a business plan, because that sometimes sounds intimidating – and learn from the judges’ feedback,” Vemu said. “The competition was conceived to take these ideas to the New Venture Challenge as the next step.”

The feedback from judges will help guide Home Docs to the next level in developing their proposal, Raman said. “The judges’ reaction – whatever they had to say and add – was phenomenal,” he said. “We did not expect that would be the value add, but it was fantastic.”

Chandra agreed. “We had an idea in place and thought we had thought about a lot of factors that go into it,” he said. “But the feedback was the most valuable part of this competition.”

--Phil Rockrohr