Restless leg syndrome affects nearly 30 million Americans, causing discomfort and keeping them up at night, but three Brigham Young University students hope to provide relief and build a business in the process. The students’ innovative product and solid plans gave their company, TranquilMed, a first-place finish the 2010 BYU Business Plan Competition.
The business — which was founded by Tim Lovell, a second-year MBA from Rexburg, Idaho; Ryan Allred, a second-year MBA from Salt Lake City; and Jared Edgel, a master of engineering student from Las Vegas — won $50,000 in cash and in-kind prizes in the annual competition April 2.
TranquilMed produces RestEasy, a device that uses infrared light to treat the underlying cause of RLS, a condition that Edgel himself has. A study that will be published in Physiotherapy Theory and Practice showed a 52 percent reduction in symptoms when the device is applied, with no known side effects.
The competition’s associate director, Cody Coombs, a second-year MBA from Boise, Idaho, says the competition showcased both the hard work and talent of BYU students.
“These teams represent the highest level of innovation and creativity that exists on campus,” he says.“All of the teams put in an extraordinary amount of time and effort.That hard work sets them apart and is the primary reason for their success.”
Second place and $30,000 went to Bazari, a platform to allow cell phone users without an Internet connection to participate in an online marketplace, similar to eBay or Amazon, through text messaging. In some developing countries, like India, where Bazari plans to launch, cell phones and text messaging are ubiquitous while Internet connectivity is frequently inaccessible. Bazari will allow millions of people who couldn’t do so before to participate in the global online marketplace.
Taking third and $20,000 was FanFare, a fan-driven, live concert marketplace that connects fans with artists, allowing the artists to take their acts to locations with high demand for their shows. In a social networking style Web platform, fans commit to purchase tickets if their favorite bands come to their town, and if enough fans commit, the artist will book a venue to play a concert in their city.
After two rounds of preliminary judging the field of competitors was narrowed down from more than 20 teams to three. A group of judges, made up of entrepreneurial founders of BYU's Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, then chose the winners based on the viability of each company and the strength of each team’s business plan.
In addition to the finalists, winners were selected in other categories. Vinylize It, a producer of vinyl decals that can be sold for school and club sports fundraisers, won the home-based business category and a $5,000 prize.
The Kay and Yvonne Whitmore Global Management Center awarded $5,000 for best global business to Marere Pure Water. The company produces clean water for packaging and distribution in small plastic bags, which are cheaper than bottled water and safer than refilled bottles frequently sold on the streets of many developing countries.
Besides winning second place in the main competition, Bazari won an additional $6,000 in the Web business category.
Founded in 1993, the Business Plan Competition is operated by the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.The annual event, run by a leadership team of seven MBA students, an undergraduate business student and a faculty adviser, is recognized as one of the top-tier business plan competitions in the nation in terms of prizes and participation.
Winners from past BYU competitions include Xeromax, Klymit, Calle, 1-800-CONTACTS, uSight, Property Solutions and Alianza.
For this and other Marriott School news releases, visit the online newsroom at marriottschoool.byu.edu/news.
Writer: Dustin Cammack