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OU Student Startup Vies for $1M in Prizes at Business Competition

OU Student Startup Vies for $1M in Prizes at Business Competition

The world's richest and largest student startup competition launches new People’s Choice Competition.

A University of Oklahoma graduate student team, Driven Analytics, will compete with some of the world's top universities for more than $1 million in prizes at the 15th annual Rice Business Plan Competition at Rice University, April 16-18.

This year, teams will compete in a new $5,000 online People’s Choice Competition that challenges the spirit of each university. Team members, fellow students, alumni, family and friends can vote for their favorite team via a Facebook survey. People can participate by going to

Driven Analytics delivers a mobile application for car owners to download to their smart phones that provides the driver real-time diagnostics specific to their car usage. The venture was formulated by Stephen Soroosh and fellow MBA students Jake Elliott, Mitchell Walser and Rachel Webb.

The winner will take home a grand prize valued at more than $450,000, including seed funding and the opportunity to ring the closing bell at NASDAQ Marketsite. Judges select the winner based on the company that represents the best investment opportunity.

The teams for this year's competition were chosen from nearly 400 entrants to compete in four categories: life sciences; information technology/Web/mobile; energy/clean technology/sustainability; and other.

More than 153 former competitors have gone on to successfully launch their ventures and are still in business today and another 13 have successfully sold their ventures. Past competitors have raised in excess of $1.3 billion in funding and created more than 2,000 new jobs.

“The true measure of success for the Rice Business Plan Competition is the number of teams that launch, raise funding and go on to succeed in their business," said Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at Rice University, which hosts the event. "The competition has served as the launch pad for a great number of successful entrepreneurial ventures, and the success rate exceeds the national average. 

“Innovation and entrepreneurship are the driving factors for economic growth in the United States. We are pleased to do our part to support these young entrepreneurs who are willing to take risks to commercialize technologies that not only drive economic growth, but also lead to advances in health care, energy and other improvements in the lives of all people."

More than 140 corporate and private sponsors support the business plan competition, which includes 275 judges from the investment sector and awards more than $1 million in prizes. Top prizes include the $250,000 Investment Grand Prize from The GOOSE Society of Texas, two OWL Investment Prizes totaling at nearly $250,000 and the $100,000 Mercury Fund Tech Transfer Investment Prize. 

This year's other prizes include the $125,000 Texas Halo Fund Investment Prize, a $80,000 SURGE Accelerator Most Innovative Energy Tech Startup Prize, a $45,000 CASIS ISS National Lab Space Flight Prize, the $25,000 Opportunity Houston/Greater Houston Partnership Technology Prize and the $25,000 Opportunity Houston/Greater Houston Partnership Life Science Prize, a $15,000 Wells Fargo Clean Technology Innovation Prize and the opportunity to ring the closing bell at Nasdaq in the fall of 2015. This is the fourth year for the $50,000 U.S. Department of Energy Clean Energy Prize to encourage students from across the country to create new businesses and transform promising energy technologies into innovative energy products that will help to create jobs, boost American competitiveness and strengthen the economy. 

For more information on the 2015 Rice Business Plan Competition, visit