Ateret Haselkorn wants to bring the examination room
to the patient, and the MPH/MBA
student at the School of
Public Health has a plan to do just that — and
maybe land herself $5,000 and
some prestige in the process.
Last fall, Haselkorn's faculty adviser told her about
the annual Johns Hopkins University
Business Plan Competition, an event hosted by the Center for Leadership
Education and now in its 10th
In previous years, the competition was open only to
full-time undergraduates in the schools of
Engineering and Arts and Sciences, but for 2009 organizers
opened it up to graduate and part-time
students from all the university's academic divisions.
Haselkorn, who once worked for a company that tracked
hospital-based technology trends,
hatched the concept for Care-Ease, a private telemedicine
company that could provide affordable
health care services to customers in convenient locations.
All they would need is a high-speed Internet
connection and a webcam.
Care-Ease would specialize in disease management and
preventive health services for both
employers and individuals. So, for example, a mother of two
in upstate New York could get nutritional
advice at home from a clinician in Pennsylvania, or a
diabetic employee at Wal-Mart could step into a
side office for guidance about his insulin regimen from a
physician elsewhere. Care-Ease would use
existing medical networks and secure its own physicians and
clinicians, who would be provided with the
necessary licensing and insurance to deliver such services
across state lines.
Haselkorn's idea earned her a spot in the semifinals,
which were held after press time on
Friday. If the judges deemed her worthy, she and 11 other
teams will compete in the finals, to be held
from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 3, at Charles Commons.
The event is open to the entire Johns
The JHU Business Plan Competition provides students
like Haselkorn with an opportunity to test
their entrepreneurial ideas. The contest was launched in
1998 by the Whiting
School of Engineering's
W.P. Carey Program in Entrepreneurship and Management and
has grown significantly since its
Haselkorn said that the competition seemed like a
perfect fit for someone like her who plans on
a career on the business side of health care.
"It sounded like an exciting opportunity, and a
teacher here told me that grad school is the best
time to try new things," she said, "because the risk is
lower than otherwise."
She said she thinks her plan also has merit and
"Businesses are losing tons of money on health care,
both directly and indirectly," she said. "If
they have unhealthy employees, they pay through the nose
for benefits, and when an employee has to
leave the office for care, that represents a loss of
The 2009 JHU Business Plan Competition attracted 42
team entries in two categories: general
business, and biotechnology/medical devices and
Stacy Hernandez, senior academic program coordinator
for the Center for Leadership
Education, said that the center was thrilled with the level
of participation in this year's competition,
which attracted undergraduate, graduate student,
postdoctoral fellow and medical resident teams.
"This is what we were hoping for," she said. "And it's
wonderful that we received submissions
from so many schools."
Larry Aronhime, a senior faculty member in the
Entrepreneurship and Management Program,
said that the competition gives students a taste of what it
takes to start a business.
"A business is much, much more than a great idea,"
Aronhime said. "The competition forces
students to turn their great ideas into plans for great
businesses. It forces them to think through a
business rationally, and then sell their idea to
For the semifinals, organizers whittled down the 42
entries to 24, 14 in the general business
category and 11 in biotechnology/medical devices and
technology. The teams represent the Carey
Business School, SAIS and the schools of Arts and Sciences,
Engineering, Medicine and Public Health.
On Friday, each participant was to give a five-minute
PowerPoint presentation of his or her plan
to a judging panel of high-ranking industry professionals,
many of whom are alumni or friends of the
university. The judges were to pick six plans from each
category to compete in the finals.
The first-place winner in each category will receive
$5,000 and access to professional services
to assist in launching his or her business. The
second-place winner will be handed $3,000 and the
third-place winner, $2,000. Teams that finish fourth to
sixth will receive $250.
Sean Hennessey, a junior political science major, said
he hopes he is one of those who finish in
Hennessey's entry is a plan for a company called
Student Solutions Technologies, which would
help college students organize and plan nearly all aspects
of their life from a central, easy-to-use
The site would compile the student's class schedule,
homework assignments, test schedule,
activities calendar and other important dates. The user
would be reminded, for example, about an
upcoming team practice, exam or paper that is due. The site
also could serve as an academic major and
minor tracker, Hennessey said, offering a list of
requirements that need to be fulfilled.
Hennessey started work on the concept more than a year
"There were a couple of times I was personally
ambushed by assignments and thought it would
be nice to have a single place that organized all this
information," said Hennessey, who proposes to
pilot the service at Johns Hopkins and, if successful,
license the technology to other schools.
Hennessey said he valued the business plan competition
because it offered good motivation to
put his ideas in motion and would help him understand if he
can make his business idea a reality.
"I learned how to put together a formal business
proposal, and hopefully this will get the ball
rolling for me," he said. "It will be nice to win, but I'm
also just curious to see what other people think
Other proposals include an on-campus bike rental
company, a business application that helps
entrepreneurs keep track from their cell phone of their
sales and expenses, and a device for hands-free automation
and high-throughput DNA extraction from gels.
This year's competition is sponsored by the
Leadership Education, the Carey
Business School, New Enterprise Associates, Medtronic
Foundation and the Hopkins Medical Device
Speaking before the semifinals, Haselkorn said she was
cautiously optimistic about her chances
but plans to follow through with her idea even if she
"I definitely want to pursue this further," she said.
"I think there is a market for this type of
service, and it can improve public health. The big issue is
to figure out the funding."
She said $5,000 would be a good start.