Cross-College Entrepreneur Team Making Its Mark

by Marty Cook  on Monday, May. 5, 2014 12:00 am  

Carol Reeves of the UA’s Walton College has helped guide a number of teams to business-plan success. | (Photo by Beth Hall)

“The hardest question we got in competition was half what we got in class,” Iseman said.

The team finished second at the Governor’s Cup in early April, collecting $22,000 in prize money, and also grabbed a second-place finish at a competition at Nebraska. Then BioBotic blew away the field and the judges at the prestigious Values & Ventures competition at Texas Christian University on April 12.

“They hit on all cylinders down there,” Reeves said. “TCU is in a class by itself for undergraduate competitions. That was a significant win.

“When they got through with their presentation, the first two comments from the judges were ‘Wow.’”

One proud papa was Sharma, who watched the competition live on his computer. Sharma had been with the team every step of the way, using the experience as a teaching moment.

“He’s the prototype of what we want university researchers to be,” Amerine said.

Sharma watched as the team accepted the winning check at TCU. “It was one of the most amazing moments of my life,” Sharma said.

The victory was soon followed by another at the G60 Pitch Contest at the 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville, where Iseman gave an “elevator pitch” in 60 seconds. The team has collected more than $51,000 in prize money, $25,000 in social media use and five hours of free consultation with legal and accounting teams.

Next up for BioBotic is the Tri-State Competition in Las Vegas on May 22-23.

Reeves said she normally doesn’t advise undergraduate teams but, with her daughter on BioBotic, who could blame her this time. She said the team surprised her, in a good way, by showing an impressive work ethic and diligence through the eight-month grind.

“In terms of the work they’ve done, what they found out, the changes they made from where they started — it’s just unbelievable,” Reeves said. “They’ve done all the things we try to get a team to do to get ready. This team was just amazing at that. They put the work in that a lot of teams don’t.”

Amerine said it was a true collaboration across three campuses. It’s just what he and Reeves and others have been lobbying for, a group effort that sheds light on the investment opportunities in the state.



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