iStart Business Idea Competition Site Collects More Than 1,200 Business Ideas

Press Release

KANSAS CITY, MO -- (Marketwire) -- 06/02/11 -- iStart, a customizable Web-based platform that simplifies how organizations market and administer business competitions worldwide, is picking up speed as students access the site to fulfill their dreams of becoming successful entrepreneurs.

iStart.org is a single resource that allows student entrepreneurs to share ideas and gain access to an international network of competitions and mentors. For administrators, the platform helps with complex tasks, including managing and monitoring applicant entries, establishing judging criteria and conducting online judging.

Since its launch in 2010, the website, hosted by the Kauffman Foundation, has gathered more than 1,200 businesses ideas from 44 countries, including Albania, Kenya, Afghanistan, Israel and Ukraine. Business idea categories include Internet (websites), Information Technology, Life Sciences, Social Entrepreneurship, Services, Green, Materials, Consumer Goods and Energy.

“We believe experiential opportunities are important for entrepreneurs to network and learn -- especially for students and others in the idea phase. iStart creates a network of opportunities for student and aspiring entrepreneurs to get global exposure, make connections and learn through competitions,” said Lesa Mitchell, vice president of Advancing Innovation at the Kauffman Foundation. “With their ideas accessible to mentors and investors and potential teaming partners, entrepreneurs can more quickly gain momentum in their business planning process.”

Some 40 different competitions hosted by businesses and universities globally are currently using iStart. Rice University utilizes the platform for its annual intercollegiate business plan competition, which has the largest judging panel and distributes the most prize money of any such competition in the world. Other competitions include the Harvard College Innovation Challenge, Emerging Postdoctoral Entrepreneur Award and Kellogg Cup.

“Business plan, pitch and idea competitions play a key role in entrepreneurial education and often kick-start an idea for an aspiring entrepreneur. That’s why we want to make these competitions more accessible to students and easier for administrators,” said Katie Petersen, who manages the iStart program for the Kauffman Foundation. “Our customizable platform is one-of-a-kind, and we hope becomes the go-to site for entering business plan competitions around the world, browsing abstracts and networking with innovative, energized entrepreneurs. We want to help make dreams a reality.”

To learn more, visit: www.iStart.org.

About the Kauffman Foundation

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private nonpartisan foundation that works to harness the power of entrepreneurship and innovation to grow economies and improve human welfare. Through its research and other initiatives, the Kauffman Foundation aims to open young people’s eyes to the possibility of entrepreneurship, promote entrepreneurship education, raise awareness of entrepreneurship-friendly policies, and find alternative pathways for the commercialization of new knowledge and technologies. In addition, the Foundation focuses on initiatives in the Kansas City region to advance students’ math and science skills, and improve the educational achievement of urban students, including the Ewing Marion Kauffman School, a college preparatory charter school for middle and high school students set to open in 2011. Founded by late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo. and has approximately $2 billion in assets. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org, and follow the Foundation on www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.

Contact: Barbara Pruitt (816) 932-1288 bpruitt@kauffman.org Sarah Brewster media relations representative (816) 842-8111 sarah@trozzolo.com

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