Annual Olin Cup Entrepreneur Competition announces 11 semi-finalists

Candidates to contend for finalist spots on Thursday, Oct. 6

Eleven semi-finalists remain in the field for the 2005 Olin Cup Entrepreneur Competition — including four student-owned ventures. Judges will select the finalists on Thursday, Oct. 6 at 5 p.m. at a networking event which is open to the public. The event will be in Simon Hall’s May Auditorium on Washington University’s campus. Kevin McGowan, principal and co-founder of McGowan Walsh Historic Renovators, is the featured speaker.

The Olin Cup Competition is an annual business formation contest organized by The Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Teams are competing for a total of $70,000 in seed investments — awarded to those who create viable business ventures with a high probability of success. In addition to the $70k, a $5k grant will be awarded to the best student-owned venture — bringing the total prize money to $75,000.

The semi-finalists are:

• Teddy Purnomo, homeWUrk *

• Eric Miller, Molecular On-Line *

• Kevin O’Sullivan, St. Louis Rock and Blues Project *

• Suzanne Shenkman, Suzanne Shenkman Designs *

• Megan Denell, CancerCare

• Margaret May, Champion4Fitness

• Karen Pentella, Health Information Technologies (HIT)

• Brian Collard and Stephen Foster, iMobile Access Technologies (IMAT)

• Peter Meng, iMirage Studios

• Connie Fry, Senior Ease

• Mark Pydynowski, Somark Innovations

* = student-owned venture

The field of eleven semi-finalists includes a variety of business ideas; from designer accessories created from vintage neckties to an identification and tracking system utilizing a unique biocompatible chipless material possessing Radio Frequency Identification functionality.

In the next round, the semi-finalists will deliver a two-minute oral presentation to a panel of more than 20 judges at a private event. This panel will include private investors, business leaders, venture capitalists, accountants, attorneys and others. The winners of this round are the finalists in the competition, and will continue to compete over the next month, The winners will be announced on Thursday, December 1.

“Being a part of this competition is hugely valuable to the team members, even if they do not win,” said Ken Harrington, managing director of the Skandalaris Center. “Participants tell us that the workshops and feedback that they receive really helps them move their venture forward. They also tell us the process gives them invaluable exposure.”

Throughout the year, the business formation competition holds workshops and other events to promote learning, collaboration and team formation. The events contribute to the competition’s goal to support the creation of new ventures and to help grow the entrepreneurial economy in St. Louis. The latest tool for this support is IdeaBounce, a program and Web site that assists in regional collaboration (

Since Kevin McGowan’s 1998 arrival in St. Louis, he and his companies have been leading developers of historic properties. Founder of The McGowan Brothers Development company in 1999, Kevin and his brothers undertook the task of leading the loft development in St. Louis, particularly along Washington Avenue. Today, McGowan Walsh has $150,000,000 in developments throughout Missouri and expects to continue to redevelop older cities for years to come

The Olin Cup competition was founded at Washington University in 1987 and has resulted in over 60 start-up companies. Every team in the Olin Cup competition must include at least one current or former Washington University student.

The Olin Cup is co-sponsored by The St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association (RCGA); Sonnenschein, Nath, and Rosenthal, LLP; Lopata, Flegel, and Company, LLP; and Polsinelli Shalton Welte Suelthaus.

The Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies is one of eight Kauffman Campuses who were awarded a total of $25 million in grants through a program designed to make entrepreneurship education available across campus and transform the way entrepreneurship is viewed, taught and experienced. Washington University in St. Louis received a Kauffman grant of $3 million to support this multi-year, campus-wide entrepreneurship program. In addition, Bob and Julie Skandalaris, along with other private donors, have generously contributed to this broad initiative.