Online Stock Photography Company Wins 2009 Texas Moot Corp

FocalPop, a Web-based solution for finding quality stock photography, won the Texas round of the Moot Corp® competition, the new-venture competition hosted annually at The University of Texas at Austin's McCombs School of Business.

The win at the Feb. 18 competition earned FocalPop a berth in the Global Moot Corp competition, which will be held in Austin May 7-9. The Global Moot Corp champion wins a prize package worth about $100,000.

"Participating in Texas Moot Corp was a great way to get valuable feedback on our business plan and pitch," said FocalPop's Brian Romanko. "Winning gives our team a huge confidence boost and compounds our already intense enthusiasm."

FocalPop reverses the photography acquisition process, allowing buyers to crowd source requests to a community of photographers. The Web-based platform allows buyers to submit detailed requests for their project needs and specify the price they are willing to pay. Photographers can submit content from their own archives or create new work. This "reverse auction" approach provides buyers the specificity and quality they desire while better informing photographers and increasing royalties. The FocalPop team members include Brian Romanko, Master of Business Administration (MBA) 2008, and MBA students Becky Parker, Ronnie LeBert, Eddie Howard and Libby Essinger.

"FocalPop is a great example of the new wave of digital content businesses that are driving ever more innovative uses of the Internet," said Rob Adams, director of the Moot Corp program. "This creative team has uncovered and is exploiting a very interesting, fast growth niche created by the convergence of digital content, ecommerce and crowd-sourcing all enabled through the Web."

The Moot Corp competition simulates the process of raising venture capital. It is a unique partnership that brings together MBAs and business leaders. The judges function as an investment group seeking to reach consensus on the business venture they would most likely fund. The judges base their decision on the quality of the idea, the strength of the management team and the clarity and persuasiveness of the written plan and oral presentation.

This year's judges were a group of eight former Texas Moot Corp competitors, many of them winners of the Texas competition. They included Phil Speros, MBA 2001, Halsa Pharmaceuticals; Scott Evans, MBA 2004, Chipotle Business Group; Barry Kahn, Ph.D. Economics 2007 and Jiten Dalvi, MBA 2007, qcue; Harlan Beverly, MBA 2004, Bigfoot Networks; Daniel Nelson, MBA 2006, Phurnace Software; Doug Baum, Master of Science in Technology Commercialization 2007, MacuCLEAR; and Ranjit Nayak, MBA 2007, eVapt.