Jenkins MBA startup awarded prestigious prize

WarpSpec founders

WarpSpec co-founders Jordan Moering and Rafael Estevez

The Licensing Executives Society (LES) Foundation announced in late April the winners of its 2015-2016 International Business Plan Competition, a program that focuses uniquely on the intellectual property (IP) aspects of business strategy.

WarpSpec, Inc. was named the Grand Prize Winner and was awarded $10,000 to further its work. WarpSpec began as a NC State Jenkins MBA graduate team project with an innovative approach to detecting food-borne pathogens.

Jenkins MBA student Rafael Estevez co-founded the startup in May 2015 following a fall 2014 semester entrepreneurship class with Jordan Moering, a graduate student in the College of Engineering’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering and a colleague in the Jenkins MBA entrepreneurship and technology commercialization (HiTEC) concentration. Both Estevez and Moering will graduate from NC State with the May 2016 class.

“We saw a lot of potential and after we completed the class, we decided to continue on,” Estevez said.

WarpSpec is developing an in-line system that scans meat products in real time for pathogens like Salmonella. They convincingly argued that their technology could save billions of dollars in lost product shelf life while promoting food safety. The judges cited WarpSpec for an exceptional business plan strongly supported by its IP strategy.

“The funds from the competition will allow us to continue developing the technology, which is core to our business model. We’re currently prototyping our technology through a grant we won with the Research Triangle Nanotechnology Network (RTNN), and so these funds will aid in those research efforts,” said Moering.

WarpSpec also placed first in the 2015 NC State Lulu eGames New Venture Challenge and have mentored a team of MBA students through the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic, part of the Poole College of Management’s entrepreneurship program based in HQ Raleigh, a shared environment for entrepreneurs in downtown Raleigh.

“Jordan Moering and Rafael Estevez are wonderful examples of the entrepreneurial leadership demonstrated by HiTEC students. Their experience in HiTEC is an enduring one that they will be able to build from successfully as they continue in their careers. It’s always a privilege to work with such talented and committed students and entrepreneurs,” said Raj Narayan, associate director for the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology & Science and professor in the HiTEC program.

About the LES Business Plan Competition

The LES Business Plan Competition, directed and developed by Dr. LES Foundation Vice President Annemarie Meike, is now in its 12th year. It is designed to partner professionals and student start-up companies, which have received less than $200,000 of investment funding, with senior leaders in the licensing and intellectual property (IP) community as a way to provide mentorship and education about business basics and best practices in IP and licensing transactions.

Approved plans submitted to the competition must include a core intellectual property component and strategies describing how the intellectual property will be used to achieve overall business plan objectives.

For more than a month, LES members mentored six finalist teams from Canada, Columbia, the United States, and Uganda, on intellectual property strategy aspects of their plans in preparation for the final phase of the Competition, which was hosted at Berkeley Research Group offices, Houston, Texas. The six competitors presented business plans and videos in live virtual sessions, and responded to questions from a panel of 10 on-site and at-large global experts, representing more than 200 collective years of business and IP strategy experience.

The finalist competition was held in conjunction with the Licensing Executives Society Spring Meeting, Houston, Texas.

The 2016-2017 competition will be announced in early fall. To learn more about the LES Foundation and the International Business Plan Competition, visit www.lesfoundation.org.

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