ZenKars, founded by second-year MBA students Venkat Jonnala and Jean-Mathieu "Jim" Chabas, took home the Perlman grand prize of $30,000. The prize is named after philanthropists Ellen Hanson Perlman and Richard E. Perlman, who donated $1.65 million in January to fund the business-plan competition for as long as students want to enter it.
For the 2013 edition, competition organizers said, about 200 ideas were submitted by more than 100 students.
Runner-up was MacuLens, which is developing eyeglass-lens technology to reduce the glare from high-intensity auto headlights. It was awarded $15,000. (Sign me up for those lenses, please.)
ZenKars also received a $1,000 award from the student-management committee that organized the competition. MacuLens picked up $3,000 as the people's choice winner, as voted on by the audience.
Though these are small amounts of money when it comes to bootstrapping a business along, business-plan competition winners sometimes go on to raise significant capital later.
Last year's Wharton competition winner was Fort Washington-based RightCare Solutions Inc., which attracted $1.75 million in an October financing led by Compass Partners L.L.C., a New York merchant-banking firm led by Richard Perlman, and Domain Associates L.L.C., a Princeton venture-capital firm.
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