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Student ventures take $20,000 in prizes

Apr 10, 2012   |   by Matthew McNierney   |   The Dartmouth

Delos Chang ’14 said he has found the next big thing in social networking — rage comics. These short form, emotionally expressive and easy-to-create comics made popular by internet subcultures like Reddit and 4chan are typically considered nothing more than humorous diversions. Speaking to a crowd of more than 50 students, faculty and Dartmouth alumni on Thursday night in the same room in which John Pepper ’91, Tu ’97 first presented his business plan for Boloco, Chang convinced a panel of five judges that rage comics warranted first place in the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Society’s second annual business plan competition.

Four months ago, Chang founded Memeja, a company that combines accessible rage comic creation tools with an online community, compelled by the belief that these comics may “redefine the way that people interact through social networks.”

The $15,000 prize awarded to Chang’s company came from a pool of $20,000 raised by DES from a number of Dartmouth alumni interested in increasing entrepreneurship at Dartmouth, according to Matt Ross ’15, a member of the organization’s executive board.

The panel of judges — comprised of a current Tuck School of Business student and Dartmouth alumni active in entrepreneurship, including Pepper and Bill Hellman ’80, a partner at Greylock Ventures — said that the decision was not easy. Each of the five finalist companies “had its merits” and solved very different problems, Hellman said.

“We were not comparing apples to apples by any stretch of the imagination,” he said.

Spiral-E Solutions, a company founded by Alison Stace-Naughton ’11, won the $3,000 second-place prize for its prototype of a medical device that helps keep the stomach in place during endoscopic surgery.

Stace-Naughton said she developed the first prototype for the device in an undergraduate engineering class at Dartmouth and has since created about 15 iterations of the design with help from professors at the Geisel School of Medicine.

She said she will continue to seek funding for her project and needs more than $200,000 to fund the animal testing required for the device’s approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

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