Richard Cosier

Rick Cosier is Leeds Professor of Management at the Krannert School and Avrum and Joyce Gray Director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. (Photo by Andrew Hancock)

From Burritos to Biotech

The moment for which everyone was waiting had arrived. You could feel the anticipation in the air. I was about to announce the winners in the 24th annual Burton D. Morgan Business Plan Competition. There was good reason for the tension –– $100,000 in total prize money was about to be distributed among the final teams.

Represented exclusively by Purdue students, they had presented their business plans only hours earlier to a stellar panel of judges composed of highly successful venture capitalists and other business experts.

Started in 1987, competition awards prize money paid from the earnings from a generous endowment established by the Burton D. Morgan Foundation. Among the top finishers that first year were a babysitting service in the Tippecanoe Mall in Lafayette and a burrito restaurant appropriately named “Hoss’ Burrito Barn.” The winning teams shared the $5,000 prize money!

We have come a long way since 1987. Now the competition is divided into two divisions. The Gold Division is open to all Purdue students (graduate and undergraduate) from throughout the West Lafayette campus, and their team can include a faculty member.


The winning team in the Gold Division, LyoGo, took home $30,000. (Photo by John Underwood)

The Black Division is restricted to undergraduates who may have a faculty advisor. In both divisions, only Purdue students may present before the panel of judges. This year, 65 teams submitted executive summaries of their business plans.

Eventually, five finalists in each division were selected to present to the judges and have a shot at the top prize money. The winning team in the Gold Division, LyoGo, took home $30,000. Team members described their startup as having created “safe, one-step injection devices that drastically reduce or completely eliminate the need for refrigeration of most therapies and can be used by any untrained individual.”

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