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Chicago GSB Student Wins Fortune Small Business Third Annual Business Plan Contest


A company started by an MBA student at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and two partners won the third annual Fortune Small Business business plan contest. The announcement appeared in the November issue of the magazine as the cover story.

PrepMe.com, which launched earlier this year, received the $35,000 first prize for its business plan which provides online tutoring to students preparing for standardized tests.

The first product from PrepMe.com is for high school students preparing for the SAT. Students receive an adaptive online course that learns where students are weak and delivers customized materials to focus on each student’s individual weaknesses. The course is supplemented by continuous online testing and personal tutoring from college students who previously mastered the SAT.

All curricular materials used by PrepMe.com are written by top scorers from Caltech, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, the University of Chicago, and Yale, and are designed to be entertaining and engage today’s students.

This year 82 teams entered the Fortune competition which was judged by entrepreneurs and executives in the venture capital industry. To enter, each team must have already won at least one other business plan competition.

Karan Goel, chief executive officer of PrepMe.com, is expected to receive his MBA in June 2006 from Chicago GSB. He received a B.A. from the University of Chicago in 2004, the same year he was named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

“It is a true honor to win this competition due to the high quality of the other finalists and the fact that only winners of business plan contests could even enter this contest,” Goel said. “I certainly felt well-prepared for the presentations we made to the judges because of the rigorous experiences I have gone through in business school,” he said.

“Karan’s experience at the Chicago GSB business plan competition, the New Venture Challenge, prepared him well for this national competition,” said Ellen Rudnick, executive director of the GSB’s Michael P. Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and a clinical professor at the school.

“The New Venture Challenge instills in our students a rigorous discipline for understanding all of the critical success factors for launching a business,” Rudnick said. “It also teaches them how to articulate their business ideas to prospective investors. Adding this to Karan’s passion and dedication for PrepMe resulted in a winning combination,” she said.

In May, PrepMe.com won the 9 th annual Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge business plan competition at Chicago GSB. In addition to a $20,000 prize, team members were also given temporary office space at the school’s ARCH Venture Partners New Business Incubator and pro bono legal advice from sponsors Bell Boyd & Lloyd and Sachnoff & Weaver.

The business plan for PrepMe.com was written by Goel, Avicahl Garg, a 2005 graduate of Stanford University, and Joseph Jewell, a University of Michigan graduate and 2005 Rhodes Scholar. Each had perfect or near perfect scores on the SAT when they were in high school.

The University of Chicago Graduate School of Business is one of the oldest and largest business schools in the world. It offers full-time and part-time M.B.A. programs, a Ph.D. program, open enrollment executive education and custom corporate education. The school has campuses in London and Singapore in addition to two campuses in Chicago.

Included among the school’s many successful alumni are entrepreneurs Joseph Mansueto, founder, chairman and chief executive of Morningstar, Dennis Keller, founder chairman of DeVry Inc., Edward Kaplan, founder and chief executive of Zebra Technologies, and Michael Polsky, founder, president and chief executive of Invenergy.

The Michael P. Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship at Chicago GSB provides career resources to students and alumni. The center’s curriculum, faculty research, experiential learning and community outreach programs support entrepreneurial development.

Visit PrepMe to learn more about the company.