AUSTIN, Texas—On Thursday (Dec. 2), the 17th annual Texas MOOT CORP® Business Plan Competition awarded first prize to a revolutionary Internet enterprise conceived by a team of five University of Texas at Austin MBA students.
The winner, BackTrack, presented a unique solution for e-commerce retailers to handle returned merchandise electronically. The venture gives retailers a way to ensure that customers’ online experience is comparable, if not better, than they could expect from a traditional brick and mortar storefront.
“It is an idea whose time has come. Customer service expectations are growing and companies are trying to work out the logistics of meeting those expectations. The time is definitely right for this sort of business venture,” said Meredith Seagraves, marketing director of TManage and a MOOT CORP judge.
BackTrack wins a slot in the prestigious international MOOT CORP® Competition, a free year in the Austin Technology Incubator and $2,000 in prize money plus a wealth of industry and venture capital contacts. Winning the Competition puts BackTrack just that much closer to turning their entrepreneurial dream into reality.
“The MOOT CORP® Competition is an innovative process that now has been institutionalized. The process started out in the ’80s as purely an intellectual exercise and has evolved into a mechanism for launching several new ventures each year,” said Dr. Gary Cadenhead, director of the MOOT CORP® Program.
In the competition, a panel of venture capitalists, investors and business leaders assume the role of interested investors and question the entrepreneurs as if their own investment capital were at risk. The judges function as an investment group seeking to reach consensus on the business venture they would most likely fund.
“The BackTrack team presented the best idea to me. If I put money out, I want to get a large amount of money back. At the end of the day, that’s what an investor is looking for,” said Dave Mackie, managing partner of Seedstage.com and a MOOT CORP judge.
First runner-up went to Prism Technologies for its patented etching process for tombstones and printed circuit boards. Three out of the four teams in the competition pitched web-based ventures.
“We faced some very tough competition. But that definitely motivated us to be better,” said Jason Sears, BackTrack president. “The team must now shift our focus from developing the idea to further developing the technology.”
The Texas MOOT CORP® Competition is hosted by The Texas Business School of UT Austin. The Texas Business School has one of the most highly ranked entrepreneurship programs in the country.