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Buffet Buddy wins first-place in G. Steven Burrill Technology Business Plan Competition

Buffet Buddy.
Seth Werner and Ann Meier shown with their first-place winning entry, the Buffet Buddy. Larger Image

An invention and business plan born of frustration in the buffet line won the 2000 G. Steven Burrill Technology Business Plan Competition. (Formerly known as the Technology Enterprise Competition, the contest is now named for its sponsor, G. Steven Burrill, a 1966 alumnus of the business school.) Buffet Buddy, presented by Seth Werner and Ann Meier is already on the market. The one-piece plastic plate and cup holder allows a user dish food with one hand while holding a beverage and a plate in the other. Judges asked relatively few questions of the Buffet Buddy team as the business plan is already proving successful. Buffet Buddy is available at several Madison retailers will soon be available in Target department stores.

Finger Digit-Keyboard by Josey Chu, Tom Yen and Santad Kiatsupaibul won the $2,500 Tong Prototype Prize. The prize is sponsored by the Tong Family Foundation, including COE alumnus Peter P. Tong (MS 1965, electrical and computer engineering.) The device includes the utilities of a full-sized keyboard on the fingers of a single glove. Although potentially useful with any computer system, the product is designed with portable computers in mind. Finger Digit-Keyboard also won a fourth-place $1,000 prize for its business plan.

Finger Digit inventors.
Tom Yen (left) Josey Chu(right) and Santad Kiatsupaibul (not pictured) presented the winning entry, Finger Digit-Keyboard. Their plan won a fourth-place prize and the Tong Prototype Prize. Larger Image

The G. Steven Burrill Technology Business Plan Competition is designed to encourage joint engineering, business and science student teams to conduct market research, assess technological feasibility and write a business plan that builds on the strength of UW technology, business expertise and education. The competition is administered by the UW Technology Enterprise Cooperative, the College of Engineering and the School of Business.

Other winners include:

Second place, $7,000, LLC by Damian Novak and Matt McClenahan: A plan to offer customized music on compact disk.

Third place, $4,000

GloComm by Dan Lerner and Alex Koi: A compact-disk based version of Business Week designed to aid students in learning to speak English.

Judging the event were representatives of prominent Madison technology-based businesses: Les Lescrenier, CEO, Gammex RMI; Nathan Harper, CIO,, Inc.; Scott Button, WI Venture Investors; and Monty Schmidt, Sonic Foundry, Inc.