Archive for January, 2014

TEA offers more than $35K in revamped business venture contest

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

After hosting one of the region’s premiere college business plan competitions for 14 years, the Tulane Entrepreneurs Association (TEA) has completely redesigned the contest to better reward the practical aspects of what make startups successful – the ability to rapidly adapt to customers’ needs.

business-model-competition-

The 2014 Tulane Business Model Competition will award more than $35,000 in prizes to new business ventures demonstrating a customer-validated business model.

Instead of rewarding the theoretical, the new contest wants ventures to show they’ve worked with potential customers to vet their services, adapted to those needs and shown the ability to quickly change course if the market disproves their assumptions. The new Tulane Business Model Competition offers a $25,000 grand prize and a $10,000 award for runner-up.

“In this contest, sleek presentations are not going to cut it,” said Ralph Maurer, executive director of the Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship at Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business. “Participants won’t be rewarded for overly ambitious sales projections, drawing fancy graphs or crafting the perfect pitch to venture capitalists.”

Instead the contest rewards teams for breaking down their idea into a key business model hypotheses; testing their assumptions with customers; applying Customer Development/Lean Startup principles to make sure they nail the solution; and learning to pivot until they have a customer-validated business model.

The contest is open to any team led by at least two or more students enrolled in a college or university. To enter, teams must submit a video presentation – normally a voice annotated slide deck no longer than 10 minutes – online by 11:59, Feb 14. More details on submission criteria are available at: http://tulane2014.istart.org/ .

“Entering the first round of the competition doesn’t require a significant time investment, and it’s a worthwhile exercise for anyone working on a startup,” Maurer said.

TEA will select eight semi-finalists who will win $1,000 each and get to pitch, receive mentoring and network with a variety of lean startup experts on Tuesday, March 25, in New Orleans. Ultimately, three finalists will present their business models at Tulane University on Friday, April 11, 2014.

- Keith Brannon


Times-Picayune: Bitcoin digital currency is starting to appear in New Orleans small businesses

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Times-Picayune

From The Times-Picayune | NOLA.com, Jan. 15, 2014:

Geoffrey Smith, visiting assistant professor of finance at Tulane University, described Bitcoin as an “alternate means of storing value” that investors are using as a hedge against the dollar. He said it needs more stability, but he thinks it has potential to catch on, particularly because of its inflation-fighting finite supply.

The system is expected to create 21 million Bitcoins and then stop issuing more. The coins often are traded as fractional units. The web sites bitcoinexchangerate.org and bitcoincharts.com reported Wednesday morning that one Bitcoin translated to about $830.

“People can use anything as currency,” Smith said. “In jail, people use cigarettes.”

“There’s nothing special about paper with green ink,” and nothing wrong with competing currencies, he argued. “It’s based on faith that it has value.”

To read the article in its entirety, visit NOLA.com.

http://www.nola.com/business/index.ssf/2014/01/bitcoin_digital_currency_is_st.html


New book shares the lessons of Burkenroad Reports

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

As director of the Freeman School’s Burkenroad Reports program, Peter Ricchiuti has spent more than 20 years highlighting the small, profitable companies that often fly under the radar of Wall Street. Now, Ricchiuti has collected some of the lessons he’s learned over the years in a new book.

stocksunderrocks

Stocks Under Rocks shares some of the lessons of the Freeman School’s Burkenroad Reports program.

Stocks Under Rocks: How to Uncover Overlooked, Profitable Market Opportunities (FT Press), co-written with New Orleans Advocate features editor Annette Sisco, is a funny, informative guide to investing based on Riccchiuti’s experiences running the acclaimed student equities research program.

“It’s all the stories I tell in class and all the stories we get from visiting with the companies, but integrated into the funny stories is what we found that makes those companies a smart investment,” says Ricchiuti, a professor of practice in finance. “Every company represents a few anecdotes and a few funny stories but also one investment lesson learned.”

For example, don’t limit your investments to hip, sexy stocks. Ricchiuti says hopelessly unfashionable companies like pawn shops and convenience stores may not win you many points at cocktail parties, but they often generate higher returns than the latest media darling tech company.

“It’s the least attractive stuff,” Ricchiuti laughs, “but when you look at the financials, they all have great stories.”

Investors willing to look beyond the surface would learn that Cash America, for example, the pawn shop company, actually derives much of its revenue from a lucrative online loan business, while Susser Holdings, operator of Stripes convenience stores, attracts customers with a chain of high-quality in-store Mexican restaurants.

Ricchiuti says the biggest lesson of all when it comes to regional small-cap stocks is that individual investors really can gain an advantage over Wall Street.

“The conventional wisdom, particularly in academia, is that every stock is already efficiently priced, but when you get down low enough and small enough, there’s often times no other coverage,” Ricchiuti says. “If you’re willing to do the research, you really can know more than anyone else, and for an investor, that’s a great place to be.”

Peter Ricchiuti will be reading from and signing Stocks Under Rocks at the uptown location of Maple Street Book Shop on Thursday, Feb. 6, at 6 p.m.

 



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