Entrepreneur Idol competition shows digital media is hot — perhaps too hot

Yesterday, VentureBeat joined venture capital firm Charles River Ventures to judge the first CRV Entrepreneur Idol competition.

Held at Stanford, the competition provided great insight on the interests of some of Silicon Valley’s future business leaders. More importantly, it provided an opportunity for Stanford students to practice pitching to VCs, and get consideration for CRV’s Quickstart program, which provides $250,000 in seed money for promising ideas.

stanfordlogo.bmpSixty students made pitches of 60 seconds — for a total of one hour — evenly divided between first and second year members of Stanford’s MBA program, with a couple of computer science students thrown in. See the pie chart below for the distribution of students’ interest areas. You will see that the general category of digital media/advertising ideas makes up the lion’s share.

crventrepreneurpie.bmpThe panel of four selected what they thought were the best five ideas — with a lot of weight given to the presentation style, obviously, given the short pitch time. The top three then pitched the whole group of students, with a clap-o-meter determining who came in first place. Congrats to Ned Tozun, a second-year MBA student who took the honors (pictured above). He took home a $2000 prize for his idea to provide a LED-based source of light to replace kerosene in the developing world.

Here are the other winners:
2nd: Rohin Dhar, $1000 prize. 2nd year MBA student. Category: Digital media/advertising.
3rd: Jeff Piper, $1000 prize. 2nd year MBA student. Category: Financial services.
4th: Vanessa Stanley-Miller. 2nd year MBA student. Category: Digital media/advertising.
4th: (tied) Ben Savage. 2nd year MBA student. Category: Mobile (gaming).
Finally, thanks to 2nd-year MBA student, John Anderson, for helping coordinate the event.

CRV’s partners, Susan Wu, Bill Tai, and George Zachary, told VentureBeat they may change the format of the competition going forward, to provide more feedback to the students. They plan Berkeley next.


  1. [...] year with a Stanford MBA. I met Dhar during an entrepreneur pitch competition and was impressed. He took second place out of a group of 60. This whole time, we’ve stayed in touch, even as I’ve tried to work with [...]