Winning $100,000 start up challenge at a target b-school - perception on the street


Since last year I have been trying to be an analyst in any ibanking division. I pursuing a masters degree in management and entrepreneurship from a target school. Under-grad was abroad.

Recently, I won a very famous $100,000 start-up challenge held amongst all business schools in the U.S at my school. It had to do with a medical device to prevent cervical cancer for women in the developing countries which I has been working on since last september. There are a couple of articles on popular news like Yahoo news as well. My question is, how can I use it to my best advantage for ibanking and what would be the perception on the street for such an accomplishment.

I honestly do not know how I can strategically use this thing as I am not getting too favourable a response. I am Confused. Currently, I am interning at a BB Asset Mgmt in NY.

Thank you.

Comments (16)

Jul 20, 2007 - 7:29pm

dude wtf? With $100,000 in prize money I'm guessing your device had some substance behind it and was not purely conceptual. Forget banking. Wtf are you thinking, go out there and save lives. I wish I was in your shoes. If your serious give me a job, I'll work for peanuts. I'm not kidding either, I've lost loved ones to cervical cancer.

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Jul 20, 2007 - 8:35pm

People are likely to find your accomplishment impressive. However, your interviewers may question why the hell you would want to go into banking now rather than run with that idea (/team). If you REALLY want to go into banking, then IMHO you should spin a story about how the things you learn in banking will help you if/when you eventually try to run a business.

Personally, I'd question your ability to stay motivated for banking when you have such a cool alternative.

Btw, if you just won the MIT competition, I really hope you run with this thing.

Jul 21, 2007 - 4:50am

JitS, just speculating here..seems that somewhere along the way your goals were befuddled by the overwhelming herd mentality present in grad school. So you decided to run with the bulls.


Maybe your eventual goal is to break into VC, which then makes your shift understandable. Your probably thinking: you'v got good entrepreneurial experience which when coupled with IB work-ex will give you a terrific shot at a top VC.

If it is the latter, you definitely deserve some sound advice, and members would be happy to provide some.

As for my opinion, based on the latter train of thought: when interviewing with an IB tell the truth. They will understand that your transition is based on learning more about the industry and building up contacts. And from the nature of the IB industry, they want you to have a long term goal that does not include them. In other words, in 3 yrs they want you to move onto something else..MBA, HF, alternative industry..which is a fit with your career plans.

Repost your topic, just be sure to explain it clearly.

Jul 21, 2007 - 10:01am

Thank you everyone for the great comments. Eyedea, I am really sorry to hear about your loss. I really appreciate your having faith in our cause.

This is how the whole story goes, I am a typical 23 yr old immigrant from India who came for M.S Computer Science to NC State Univ. My ultimate aim was to pursue an MBA from HBS, Wharton etc. I soon realised I am not heading that way and becoming what a billion people back home already are;IT guys. I dropped out after a year and applied to Duke for Engineering Management and Entrepreneurship Program. During that summer, I went to Harvard for Summer classes in Valuation using Fundamentals. That experience transformed me. Imagine sitting in a graduate school class of Valuation with avergae age 30; and not knowing what a balance sheet looks like. I strived, persisted and learnt a lot from the seniors about acheiving the MBA dream. Luckily Duke came through and I focussed only on Corporate Finance. This program is offered inconjunction with the Business School and the Law School. I am only studying all second year MBA finance electives (again trying to duplicate the harvard experience).

I agree with "Primate" that I am having a herd mentality here. I looked at two professions from where MAX people get into HBS. Top Consulting and BB banking. Hence the whole adventure of me trying to be one of these.

"justanotherbanker ", The Start-Up challenge called CUREs seeks to create sustainable social ventures based on innovative health care technologies that address the medical needs of those most in need in the developing world. Its hosted by Duke Start-Up Challenge. We won because our model was highly unique which involved the NGOs,Obstetrics, Gynecology,Local community in a very interesting setting. I am pursuing that part time and soon we will hand over the infrastructure to local hospitals in places like Haiti and Honduras. We have done most of the hardwork since last september and hopefully will acheive lowering the mortality rate by more than 19000 women in five years in Haiti, Honduras and Tanzania alone.

I do not know much about corporate america. Really interested in learning as much as I can about different industries and want to have a broad skill set (Atleast start with one). Keeping my MBA goal in mind, I will go anywhere which gives me one;Be it a BB, MBB Consulting or even IFC-World Bank.

So my motivation levels are extreme as I really know what I want in the short term. After which I have no idea. Still want to save the world everyday.
Any comments?

Jul 21, 2007 - 10:51am

You have similar interests to me; I'd say aim for the IFC. With your competition and education you'd definitely qualify for their entry level programs (usually want a masters).

Jul 21, 2007 - 4:20pm

Thanks fp175,Would appreciate everyones comments on the whole thread. This forum has been a great help as I have been reading on different topics. I am sure there are a lotta smart and motivated people down here and I would love their advice.

Thanks again.

Jul 21, 2007 - 7:11pm


The only thing I've managed to learn from this board is to avoid BB if you're a creative and entrepreneurial person.

Persue your idea with a passion. You want to know the successful people from India? Here's a hint: they're not the ones with degrees from Harvard, IIT, IIM, or any other trophies. They're the ones with a idea, passion and entrepreneurial spirit to create their own companies.

If you value success by only have a stupid little peice of paper from Harvard, a 20 year life at Goldman Sachs, then, by all means persue that. But realize, competence is rare, even amongst bankers. If you, as you claim, have the perservance to catch up to others, even with your shortcomings in finance, then why not persue your idea with your heart?

Build a great idea and run with it. Don't make yourself the grunt to help others build their ideas.

Jul 21, 2007 - 9:33pm

I spent 2 years in a BB's industry group, and I would say that banking can really beat the creativity out of you. Sure each deal is a little different, but they are all pretty much the same, and you are expected to fill pretty much the same role in each transaction. You can add extra value on the margins, but not that much.

A big secret is that banking doesn't require that much talent (some smarts are needed, but it's really more about pedigree and being able to work 75-100 hrs/week). The IB job you don't take will be filled by another ambitious (money hungry) kid coming out of B-school. He/she will do everything you would have done just as well as you would have. He/she will make lots of money. If he/she is lucky and networks very well, he/she will get a PE job and help make millions of dollars for people who already have millions of dollars.

(As a side rant: Don't argue that VCs are innovative and help foster along new technologies to save lives. That may happen during their quest to make money, but it's impact isn't that significant. Millions worldwide still die of acute infectious diarrhea and malaria every year; however these deaths occur in impoverished areas so there isn't an opportunity to make a great monetary return on their control/eradication.)

Go for the IFC thing where you can apply your talent to make a real difference. Or if you have any chance to stay involved with your start up plan, I would encourage you to do that. Ensure it is enacted as speedily and effectively as possible. If your presence and energy translates to this thing getting rolled out 6 months early, that's thousands of lives saved. In the big picture that's so much more important than the size of your bank account.

Jul 21, 2007 - 10:40pm

Thank you "sdonowski" and "consultant16190" for the great advice. I agree with sdonowski about banking beating your creativity overall(I have heard that a lot).

On the start-up plan, we are trying to be as quick as we can but there are many moving parts to the whole equation. I totally agree there is so much more than our bank accounts.

Consultant16180, I beleive am a naive but motivated and want to learn a lot about different industries, businesses and problems. I am a masters student in management and entrepreneurship and have never worked in the corporate sector as I enrolled straight from college. I am striving for an experience which offers immense exposure to various industries along with the constant challenge of solving new problems and the broad ability to transfer skills. MBBs ability to cultivate my relentless passion for continuous diverse learning and translate into a skill set inspires me to envision the impact on any industry I seek in the future. In my opinion, the two year program will be a great learning experience.

Jul 22, 2007 - 6:45am

jits, first you might be focusing on the wrong thing. Your goal shouldn't be "i want to get into harvard and therefore i will be successful!"; instead it should be more along the lines of J. Krishnamurthy, Tolstoy...choose what you want/love to do!

second, you already seem to have the initial goods to make it to hbs. Which other applicant can claim of saving thousands of lives? Listen to what the other members are saying: "run with the idea" or "take up the IFC, while working on your start-up on the side". The experience you will build up will be tremendous, you might not even need HBS.

Note: HBS needs diversity, and will therefore give out a limited number of admits to m/b/b pedigree.

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