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Elon entrepreneurs win first place in national competition

Elon students RJ Yozwiak and Ian Baltutis, who have created a startup company, The Vibration Solution, LLC, claimed the $10,000 first place prize at the University of Evansville New Venture Creation Competition on April 4. Details...

RJ Yozwiak, Barth Strempek, Ian Baltutis

The team also was voted the audience favorite in the competition. The Elon team placed ahead of 15 other finalists from Indiana University, Purdue, Belmont, Bradley, Butler and Evansville among others. A total of 33 business plans were submitted to the competition from around the country. Sixteen finalists presented in Evansville; the awards were announced on live local television during the evening news.

A panel of experienced business professionals evaluated written business plans submitted in the competition. Each team had eight minutes (followed by four minutes of questions) to convince the judges of the viability and superiority of its venture.

Yozwiak and Baltutis used the Silicon Valley approach to business pitches suggested by well-known venture capital guru Guy Kawasaki. Beginning with a clear description of a need or problem, they explained that the noise and vibration caused by unbalanced washing machines was a concern of at least 10 percent of American households. Next they used an array of multimedia techniques to demonstrate their solution: SilentFeet (vibration dampening coasters utilizing the proprietary Sorbothane polymer).

The team distributed samples of the SilentFeet product and inferior competing products while showing a before and after video of a water-filled wine glass resting on the floor beside a vibrating washing machine. The water rippled noticeably when the machine was not resting on SilentFeet. After SilentFeet were placed under the machine the water barely moved. Following the convincing product demonstration, they used well supported data and effective charts to illustrate a multi-million unit market size and substantial sales and profit potential. Judges were also impressed that the company had been selling product over the internet for only two weeks and had already exceeded first month sales projections. 

The business plan for the SilentFeet product, conceived and developed by R. J. Yozwiak, Ian Baltutis, and Mike Vantusko over the past 18 months, was developed through theDoherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and the EntrepreneurshipConcentration of the Business Administration major. This is athree-course sequence beginning in the first term of the students'junior year, led by Barth Strempek, Doherty Professor and associateprofessor of business administration.The Vibration Solution, LLC is the first operational company to emerge from the Doherty Center.

Dan Anderson,
4/7/2008 8:34 AM