The creators of an online financial marketplace aiming to improve the consumer’s buying power in financial transactions won the grand prize at the 17th annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, a Temple University-wide business plan competition.
RatesForUs.com, co-founded by CEO and Fox School of Business alumnus Ben Stucker, MBA ’13, and CTO Alec Baker, took home more than $60,000 in cash prizes, in addition to products and professional services, at the April 16 final presentations at the Fox School.
“If I could have burst out of my skin, I would have. This was one of the most rewarding and exciting moments of my life,” said Stucker, a longtime mortgage industry professional.
RatesForUs.com, which registered its website domain only two months prior to the final presentations, hopes to become the top online destination for mortgage shoppers, Stucker said. He and Baker first met in February to lay the foundation for their company and “then we wrote our business plan in three weeks,” Stucker said.
What sets apart RatesForUs from others in the marketplace, Stucker said, is that they have worked closely with consumers to understand and support their needs. From increased consumer privacy to allowing consumers to confidently obtain lower interest rates, Stucker said RatesForUs has taken steps to drastically improve the online shopping experience. With RatesForUs, Stucker said, personal information will only be shared when necessary and agreed to by the consumer, eliminating “the bombardment of calls and potential bias based on race, ethnicity or gender,” he said.
The cash and prizes from Be Your Own Boss Bowl® will support the continued development of the marketplace for RatesForUs, Stucker said.
“Our expenses to date have been minimal,” he said. “That’s intentional. We only take a step if we can measure the results for future decision-making purposes. First, we wanted to be sure consumers would value our service, so we talked to them. Then we took our survey results to the lenders that would be supplying the loans and they were interested. We’re going to continue using this lean methodology and complete the development of our marketplace. We are looking forward to continued interaction with those in our marketplace – lenders, consumers, and professionals.”
The annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, the flagship program of Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), is one of the most lucrative and comprehensive business plan competitions in the country. This year, 12 business plans representing five of Temple’s 17 schools and colleges were selected as finalists. They competed for more than $160,000 in cash prizes, plus related products, professional services, and incubation space.
The competition features three distinctly different tracks: the Undergraduate Track, open to current Temple undergraduate students; the Upper Track, open to Temple graduate students, alumni, faculty and staff; and the Social Innovation Track.
Winners from each track were:
- Upper Track: RatesForUs.com
- Social Innovation Track: ROAR for Good, LLC, a developer of wearable self-defense tech designed for women. (Yasmine Mustafa, FOX ’06; Anthony Gold; Peter Eisenhower, ENG ‘11; Charlotte Wells, CLA ’15; Hunter Vargas, FOX ’16; and Christina Kazakia)
- Undergraduate Track: Habitat LLC, a platform for students to buy and sell goods within their college communities. (Fox School students Andrew Nakkache, Michael Paskiewicz and Brandon Bahr, and Kathleen Chen)
For the sixth year, the IEI awarded the Chris Pavlides Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award to an undergraduate student who demonstrates a strong passion for entrepreneurship. This year’s recipient was junior entrepreneurship major Vincent Paolizzi.
Temple alumnus Christopher Wink, CLA ’08, received the 2015 Self-Made & Making Others Award. Wink is the co-founder and editor of Technical.ly, a network of local technology news sites and events.
Be Your Own Boss Bowl® participants benefit from coaching, mentoring and networking opportunities with the Philadelphia area’s leading business professionals, including members of GPSEG, the Greater Philadelphia Senior Executive Group. Overall, the competition receives support from 300 executives and entrepreneurs.
–Christopher A. Vito
Be Your Own Boss Bowl® 2015, by the numbers
$200,000 Value of monetary, products, services and mentorship prizes awarded
300 Mentors and preliminary judges
143 Overall participants in BYOBB
64 Senior executive mentors
61 Registered company submissions
32 Participating finalist team members
13 Temple University schools and colleges represented in BYOBB
13 Presentation coaches
12 Finalist teams representing five Temple schools and colleges
6 Finalist judges