Oregon MBAs are winning big on the international business plan competition circuit.
Team Animosa—Kate Blazar, Ally MacLean, and Maggie Perdzock—placed first in the mai Bangkok Business Challenge, beating out 28 other teams hailing from 18 different countries—but that’s not all.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be the first all-women team to win this competition,” said Blazar, the team’s leader. "Animosa is a brand that is all about empowering women to explore the world. For the three of us to travel to Thailand and win in the international arena is validation not only for our venture, but also for female founders everywhere."
Animosa is a new brand of innovative outdoor gear for women, aiming to equip and empower women to explore the outdoors unencumbered. The team’s launch product is the Go With Your Flow kit, an all-in-one solution for handling feminine hygiene in the outdoors or anywhere without waste bin access.
The mai Bangkok Business Challenge has taken place yearly at the Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration in Bangkok, Thailand, since 2002. It attracts graduate students from across the world who pitch their business startup ideas for a chance to win $46,000 in prizes. This is UO’s second win at the mai Bangkok Business Challenge. Oregon MBA team Corrosion Solutions won in 2012.
Nathan Lillegard, instructor and program manager for the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, traveled with team Animosa and served as faculty advisor.
“This win is a very powerful validation of the work and commitment these three exceptional women have delivered,” he said. “Kate, Ally, and Maggie nailed the first five minutes of their presentation. They proceeded to have a very powerful conversation with the judges over the next 25 minutes of Q&A time. Their confidence, poise, and engagement truly separated them from the other teams.”
In the end, the judges agreed and Animosa became the first all-female team to win the Bangkok Business Challenge.
“These competitions attract great talent from around the world,” Lillegard added. “Oregon MBAs stand toe to toe with the best in the world in these arenas. It’s an honor and inspiration to work with these women.”
Meanwhile at Louisville
While team Animosa was in Thailand, a second group of Oregon MBA students were pitching their business idea in Kentucky. Stacey Edwards, Brawnson Adams, and Justin La Tempa of the TOUGHER team took first place in the fast pitch portion of the 2016 Brown Forman Cardinal Challenge at the University of Louisville, another top business plan competition.
TOUGHER is focused on creating a line or comfortable and durable apparel for women working in physically demanding professional trades and hobbyists suffering from ill-fitting garments. Instructor Allan Cochrane is TOUGHER’s faculty advisor.
These competitions start as student projects but often translate directly to real-world success. Team Red Duck Ketchup jump-started their now successful business with the $1,500 won in the Cardinal Challenge’s fast pitch presentation in 2013. Red Duck Foods now distributes its suite of sauces to hundreds of gourmet food stores and specialty shops from Eugene to New York City.