Noah Doris ’20 of Goba Tea, Vaidehi Tembhekar MBA’21 of Busy Boda, and Aakaanksh Pothukutchi ’13 of Dash Beyond are the winners of the 2020 B.E.T.A. (Babson Entrepreneurial Thought & Action®) Challenge.
More than $350,000 in cash and in-kind prizes was awarded during the April 16 virtual finale. The three winning ventures, led by Babson undergraduate, graduate, and alumni entrepreneurs, each won a grand prize of $20,000 plus “services-in-kind” donations from corporate sponsors.
Tembhekar also was awarded the $2,500 High Impact Female Founder Award for her big thinking, problem solving, and leadership. The Arist team, led by Ryan Laverty ‘20, was awarded the $2,500 Pivot for Impact Award. The Pivot for Impact Award was newly created this year to recognize the venture that, in a time of crisis, best demonstrated the uniquely Babson quality of thinking and acting entrepreneurially to pivot and deliver economic and social value. Both special awards were generously sponsored by David Ragins ’94.
A prize of $2,500 was awarded to the two other finalist ventures in each of the three competitions.
The Undergraduate Challenge award went to Goba Tea, led by Noah Doris ’20 and Byron D’Mello. Goba Tea is the first healthy and shelf-stable boba, created to address the negligible shelf life and high calories that define boba tea products currently available.
Vaidehi Tembhekar MBA’21 and Kenyan motorcycle taxi hailing app Busy Boda took home the Graduate Challenge award. Busy Boda both serves commuters and fills demand for couriers.
Alumni Challenge winner Dash Beyond, led by Aakaanksh Pothukutchi ’13, is an interactive career encyclopedia game that motivates high school students to explore at least 50 careers, 30 courses and 15 colleges before they finish the 11th grade.
“In times like these, we need entrepreneurial leaders who can pivot and problem solve. During the B.E.T.A. Challenge, we showcased a group of immensely talented Babson entrepreneurs who are taking action to move their ventures forward, overcoming obstacles, and driving impact,” said Debi Kleiman, executive director of The Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship at Babson.
Bringing B.E.T.A. Online
This year’s B.E.T.A. Challenge was held entirely online for the first time. With the suspension of in-person classes and events due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Blank Center for Entrepreneurship team quickly pivoted to bring the entire experience online. Nearly 300 people watched this year’s finale.
“Bringing the entire B.E.T.A. Challenge online was a pivot in true ET&A fashion—it was amazing to experience how the entire Babson community rallied behind it and the entrepreneurs embraced it without missing a beat,” said Kleiman.
The nine finalists were chosen after the virtual Venture Expo two weeks ago. In a new twist on the classic expo format, each semifinalist pitched their venture and answered questions from the panel of judges.
The Blank Center team continues to bring its resources and programming online for Babson’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. This summer, it will offer Summer Catalyst, a 10-week virtual program that will build entrepreneurial skills and knowledge, provide resources, tools, and expert connections, and help entrepreneurs accelerate their business. Summer Catalyst shares many similarities with the Summer Venture Program and incorporates elements like Hot Seat, office hours, and dedicated advisors, but will be delivered online.
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