Professor Brett Bonthron is chair of the University of San Francisco’s eighth annual International Business Plan Competition that’s set to take place Thursday and Friday at the Hotel Kabuki. The competition hosts 21 student entrepreneur teams from around the world competing for $25,000 in prize money and receiving coaching from more than 40 Silicon Valley industry leaders.
How do students benefit from this competition?
They get the total Silicon Valley experience. We have a very unique ecosystem [in the Bay Area] that we sometimes take for granted. They get direct, one-on-one coaching from real experts.
What is the most basic criteria for judging an idea?
Their likelihood to receive Silicon Valley venture funding.
What’s the most interesting idea you’ve seen in the competition?
A gentleman who came to us from the Philippines … developed an innovative technique for putting fish into a stasis state, basically, the living dead. And what it allowed his licensees to do was to ship fish without water [which is less expensive]. When you can bring the dead back to the living, you can make a lasting impression on inventors.
How would you classify the majority of entries into the competition?
We tend to get a lot of medical device teams. Over half of our entries in the competition are in the life sciences.
What is stressed in terms of selling an idea?
Students get 90 seconds to give their elevator pitch. It is not easy. As Mark Twain once said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”