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UC MBA Team Enjoying A Summer Of Success

Date: July 17, 2002
By: Carey Hoffman
Phone: (513) 556-1825
Archive: General News

The business aspirations of a team of University of Cincinnati MBA students are $15,000 closer to coming to fruition, thanks to the team's success in a major entrepreneurial business plan competition based out of Dayton, Ohio.

The team of Physiomics Inc. placed second out of a field of approximately 200 potential businesses involved in "The i-Zone $100,000 Business Plan Challenge." At last week's finals, the group earned their $15,000 prize after making a presentation as one of three finalists.

MBA team of Dan Shelly, Jessica Miller and Thad Edmonds, with advisor Charles Matthews, at the Oregon competition

"We are absolutely thrilled," says team member Dan Shelly. "Now we can actually do some of the things we wanted to do, like getting incorporated and developing some professional advertising pieces, instead of having to do it ourselves at Kinko's."

The Dayton prize is the latest in a series of successes that give Physiomics a crucial boost in that period when they seek to evolve from a plan on paper into an actual operating business. The team of Shelly, Jessica Miller and Thad Edmunds developed a business plan for a process to speed up product testing for the pharmaceutical industry. The students have been refining the plan and their ability to communicate it effectively all year through the support of the UC College of Business Administration's Center for Entrepreneurship Education and Research and the center director, Professor Charles Matthews.

In April, Physiomics earned $1,250 by winning the 10-minute Lightning Round presentation competition at the University of Oregon's New Venture Championship. In May, the team was awarded $5,000 in funding from the new Bearcat Bridge Fund, a project set up to help promising student projects move towards real-world viability.

Shelly admits that, prior to winning the Dayton prize, Physiomics wasn't even sure it would be able to continue. With more than $20,000 in the bank now, the team is planning on getting its business operating in the next six months, even if it fall shorts of the Phase I funding goal of $250,000 in capital written into its business plan. "We'll get this thing up and running and seek some initial clients," he says. "If we can get a few clients on line who will work with us, then we can slowly build up to what our plan envisions."

Physiomics will be a contract research organization offering pre-clinical physiological studies of potential pharmaceutical and biotechnology products. The company believes that it can significantly reduce the cost and time associated with drug development through applied knowledge and testing of multiple physiological systems simultaneously.

"Faculty assistance from the College of Business Administration in developing our plan was tremendous," Shelly says. "If the student steps up to the plate, the faculty here will always join them. On a number of occasions they would stay after classes that ended at 8:40 p.m. for an hour or even two helping us."

The gains for Physiomics from the Dayton contest could extend far beyond the initial cash award. Shelly calls it a "validity check" that should help in the venture capital process. "People will pay attention to you now," says Shelly, who in addition to his MBA also has a PhD in physiology. "We know it is a complex concept, but after we won this award, one of the partners at a venture capital firm in Dayton told me, 'I'm not sure what you do, but because you won this, I know now I need to talk with you.' "

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