Six winners have been announced in Xavier Launch-A-Business (X-LAB) 2013 competition. They are:
1. Greens Neighborhood Market, an urban community marketplace which offers fresh food, and complementary products at affordable prices; owners: Maureen Mello and Kathy Garrison
2. 3DLT, 3DLT.com: 3D Printing Template Marketplace. Think istockphoto.com or graphicriver.net for 3-D printed templates; owners: Pablo Arellano and Brandon Lipman, a current Xavier undergraduate student
3. Sustain Brand, an aggregator of sustainable local suppliers under one nationally scalable brand name; owner: Matthew Kennedy
4. BrewKraft Collective, a brewer and server of unique, locally-influenced and locally-sourced craft beers and homebrew kits that is focused on building a community of enthusiasts; owners: Eric Palmer, Nick DiNardo, Kieran Hurley and Steve Sharpe
5. Chill Shaved Ice Bar, LLC, a mobile unit that serves made-to-order shaved ice topped with 100% all natural syrups; owner Alia Ali, a graduate of Xavier’s MBA program
6. The Punch House LLC, a service that teaches people the real techniques of a Boxer & MMA Fighter in a fun, safe, and energetic atmosphere; owner: Danny Calhoun
Among the 15 finalists were two Xavier undergraduates (Mark Gore and Brandon Lipman) and an MBA alumnus (Alia Ali). The 26 MBA students that interviewed the fifteen finalists are taking an experiential learning management consulting class and were the drivers of the process to select the winners. First, candidates submitted some pre-work to the interviewer teams inclusive of a statement of the problem their business idea solves and for whom it is intended, a business model overview, and a listing of three reasons why they think they should be one of the winners. Next, interviewers reviewed the pre-work. On Jan. 17, teams interviewed and rated all 15 candidates using a predetermined set of criteria, which the candidates received ahead of time.
The 15 finalists were interviewed on Jan. 17 by interview teams comprised of:
- 26 MBA consulting students
- 11 executives from X-LAB’s advisory board (Dick Aft, Jay Brown, Alex Burkhart, Chet Durham, Bob Fulop, Rick Hackman, Barbara Henshaw, Karim Noujaim, Jeannette Kipina, Rebecca Luce, and Kevin Martin)
- Two representatives of Cintrifuse (Eric Baumgardner, Erika Patterson)
Last week, the MBAs broke into three teams. Each selected their top six X-LAB candidates from the pool of finalists. Then, a team of three MBAs (1 from each of the three MBA student teams) reviewed the three sets of 6 finalists and made the final selection of X-LAB’s winners.
The six X-LAB winners will receive:
• Consulting and implementation services from Xavier MBAs through early May 2013
• Workshops led by Xavier faculty and Cintrifuse representatives
• An executive mentor and access to Xavier’s extensive executive network
The X-LAB competition began in September 2012. Applicants applied on-line via an application developed by a 2011 X-LAB competition winner, Adam Treister, the founder and owner of Student Source, an on-line freelancing source for college students (http://www.studentsource.com/). Once the applications were received the members of the X-LAB advisory board, comprised of faculty, executives and students evaluated the viability of the idea, the potential of the entrepreneur and whether the capabilities of X-LAB and the business idea were a good match. After this initial assessment, 25 applicants were invited to attend 16 3-hour workshops led by Xavier faculty and local executives.
X-LAB’s primary benefit is the sharing of business expertise and best practices. It recognizes that entrepreneurs need more than money to succeed. X-LAB draws on the Williams College of Business’s 65 faculty members, 500 affiliated executives and nearly 900 MBA students to work with the winners to help them launch, sustain and grow their businesses.
Betsy Goldfarb used the X-LAB competition to build Queen City Transitions, which helps seniors and their families navigate challenges of downsizing, aging-in-place or liquidating an estate with compassion and customer service, bringing order to chaos. “I wasn’t able to find my direction because I was too busy working IN my business,” she says. “Due to what I learned that year, I developed a plan and began to execute it in ways I didn’t think possible. My business has grown almost 200 percent. I am proud of it and proud that X-LAB saw its potential and gave me a shot.”
Michael Kou, president of Growth by Export, says, “XLAB believed in my concept and helped me foster it. With their help I developed a business plan, trademarked a logo, incorporated my company, built a website, built up my confidence and launched my business. Within a year I was running my own company and shortly after, left my full time job to manage GBE full time.”
“After a rigorous interview process, I wasn't sure what to expect from the X-LAB experience,” says Brad Rogers of Urban Harvest. “I had all of the energy and drive of a small business owner, but none of the book knowledge or savvy necessary to launch a successful business. X-LAB’s talented instructors and eager MBA students shaped my energy and drive into a practical business plan and presentation. The education and experience X-LAB gave me was invaluable.”
A number of Xavier students submitted ideas to X-LAB this year: Anthony Breen, founder of My Healthy Tale, an app educational tool that teaches children how to manage their diabetes through story-telling (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/my-healthy-tale), Mark Gore, Katrin D'Esopo, Brandon Lipman, Erin Hinson, Brandon Pindulic, Samantha Meza, Derek Smith, Joyce Powdrill, founder of J. Powdrill & Associates.