Monday, May 30, 2011

Think Big

This year, my team participated in and won second place in the Wharton Business Plan Competition, winning $15,000 cash and $10,000 of in-kind services. This was one of the highlights of my first year in business school.

I worked with Marc Montserrat (my learning teammate) and Pitou Devgon (a physician and recent grad) to develop a business plan for a medical device known as PhlebCath. PhlebCath is designed to revolutionize the process of drawing blood from patients by eliminating painful needle sticks. By going through an already-inserted IV, the device will also drive efficiency gains by eliminating wasted time in finding veins for blood drawing. We named our company Next Generation Phlebotomy (phlebotomy is the process of drawing blood).

Over 300 teams submitting business plans in the first round. 25 teams were selected to proceed to the semifinals. 8 teams were then selected for the finals - roughly 4 health care and 4 non-health care teams. This was the first year in the history of the competition that the industry make-up of the final needed to match the industry make-up of the semifinals.

After submitting a 45-page business plan, giving a 20 minute presentation to the judges, and giving a 2-minute elevator pitch to the audience (something I did), we were thrilled to win 2nd place in the competition. We celebrated at Tiffin and ate wonderful Indian food.

See here for the award winners from the competition:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Patagonia Days 5-6: Las Torres

If the hike to the French Valley was a day of reckoning, then my last day on the W trail was a morning of reckoning.

Day 5 was an easy 4 hour hike to Refugio Cuernos with good weather. But on Day 6, I got up at 4:30am to hike to the Base of the Towers to see sunrise on the three towers, the 3rd and final attraction of the W trail.

Unfortunately, none of my friends wanted to wake up this early, but I found two trekkers from Chicago who were intrepid enough to join me. It was just as well - I didn't have a head lamp; one of them did. The previous night we asked the staffers at Cuernos when we needed to leave to see sunrise on the towers. We heard a range of answers but we chose the earliest time to be conservative.

This was a mistake.

Though we reached the towers after a 2 hour pre-dawn hike before sunrise in which we hiked through snow flurries, we nearly froze to death while waiting for the sun to illuminate the towers. You see, sunrise doesn't necessarily mean that the sun's rays will be on the towers. Sunrise actually happens on the other side of the valley and it takes an hour after sunrise for the sun to shine on the towers. We waited, and huddled for warmth, at the foot of the towers for a hour for the light. The first 10 minutes were peaceful as we were the *first* people to the towers. We sat in complete silence, staring up at the towers, through the mist that blanketed the lower half of the mountains.

After a while, the next group of hikers joined us in the wait, and our peaceful silence was broken.

We continued to wait and freeze. The temperature must have been in the high 20s compared to 50-60 degrees the valley. I couldn't feel my fingers, then my hands, then my toes, then my feet. After an hour of waiting, though the sun's rays were not completely on towers, I decided to save my extremities and descend. Once I had dropped 500 feet, the blood returned to my hands and I felt searing pain. Only later did I learn that this was known as a 're-perfusion injury' - when the blood returns to vessels that have had low blood pressure.

On the way down, I saw my friends, who would get up to the towers at just the right time to see towers beautifully illuminated.
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