NuMat Technologies from Northwestern University beat out 37 teams from top MBA programs around the world to claim the grand prize at the 29th annual Global Venture Labs Investment Competition held at The University of Texas at Austin on Saturday, May 5. NuMat Technologies designs and creates high-performance materials to store clean fuels and produce them on a large scale for industry.
The NuMat Technologies team, Chris Wilmer and Tabrez Ebrahim, won a $135,000 package including Austin Technology Incubator office space, mentoring and consulting services; a full-page ad in Inc. magazine; consulting with The University of Texas at Austin's McCombs School of Business entrepreneurship faculty worth $25,000; and cash. The winning team will also ring the closing bell at the Nasdaq Stock Market on July 27.
Ebrahim, NuMat's chief operating officer, received his B.S. in mechanical engineering from the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.
"It feels really good to be an alum Austin's my favorite place," he said. Ebrahim has also worked with clean-tech startups at the Austin Technology Incubator, which has helped 200-plus startups raise more than $1 billion in investor capital.
First runner-up was Athena Laboratories, the first team from the master's of science in technology commercialization (MSTC) program at McCombs to reach the Global Venture Labs Competition finals. The team Ravine Woods, Albert Alvarez, Wendy Wu, Wendell Johnson and Wayne Whitmire won a $5,000 prize.
CEO Ravine Woods said, "We're super excited and very proud to represent the MSTC program in the finals." Athena Laboratories is a medical device company whose FemtoSmooth laser technology can treat cellulite in a way that is minimally invasive and less painful than current methods.
NuMat Technologies was awarded the top prize after the two-day competition that featured 15 international MBA teams and 22 teams from the leading MBA programs across the U.S. Finals-round judges were William Glasgow, Prime IX Investments; Phil Speros, Halsa Pharmaceuticals; Mike Dodd, Austin Ventures; and Thomas Pickens III, Astrotech Corporation.
A team from Thammasat University in Thailand won the first-ever $10,000 Wells Fargo Clean Energy prize with their startup Paramaxx, whose proprietary technology can extract valuable natural minerals such as magnesium, nitrogen and phosphorus from industrial waste.
Other teams in the finals, winning $3,000 each, are:
- Sustainable Agriculture Solutions (SAS) from Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia, which will produce an enhanced-efficiency fertilizer incorporating a patented nanotechnology called CDS® that protects crop nutrients, saving in fertilizer cost, increasing productivity and safeguarding the environment.
- Ischiban from the University of Cincinnati, a medical device startup that develops comprehensive diagnostic and monitoring systems for emergency, mobile and long-term applications to aid in the assessment of neurological status for conditions such as stroke.
The Global Investment Venture Labs Competition simulates the real-world process of raising venture capital. It is a unique partnership that brings together graduate students and business leaders. The judges function as an investment group seeking to reach consensus on the business venture they would most likely fund. The quality of the idea, the strength of the management team and the clarity and persuasiveness of the written plan and oral presentation all influence the judges' decisions.
The competition was sponsored by Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs. An interdisciplinary education and research initiative, Venture Labs promotes new venture creation at The University of Texas at Austin through education and mentoring, market and business plan validation, team-building and networking, and direct links to resources and funding.