Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Booth Team Wins Marketing Prize at Business Plan Competition

A couple of weeks ago, a team of Chicago Booth second years made the trip to Houston to enter their start-up, BelliSwap, in the Rice Business Plan Competition - the largest business plan competition in the world! With over $1 million in prize money to be awarded at the competition and judges representing venture capital firms, angel investors and entrepreneurs, the competition represented an incredible opportunity for any start-up and, as such, attracts the best of the best.

Among this elite crowd, the New Venture Challenge BelliSwap team, comprised of Katie Teitelbaum, Susan Gibbons, Beth Krigel, Sara Kaufman, Jackie Avitia, and Jane Griffin delivered a marketing plan that stood out, being awarded first place in the marketing piece of the competition.

But BelliSwap stood out even before the competition started. "We were definitely an anomaly," said Beth Krigel. "It was mostly technology companies and medical device companies...and BelliSwap."

There is a technical element to BelliSwap - it is a web-based business. But that is where the similarities to their competitors ends.

BelliSwap offers brand name maternity wear for rent. The goal is to allow women to maintain their style while pregnant without needing to shell out the dollars to buy high priced clothing. Instead, BelliSwap lets women order clothes a la carte, holding one item at a time, or by subscription, holding five items at any time and swapping out as their bodies change.

The ability to understand this very unique target demographic - pregnant women who want stylish clothing without a high price - is what put BelliSwap's marketing plan ahead of the field.

"It was really important for us to know our potential customers in order to develop creative tactics to attract them and get them hooked to BelliSwap," Krigel explained. "What the judges really appreciated about our plan was how we got into the minds of pregnant women and thoroughly described our target customer's behaviors and habits."

The team used a combination of surveys and in-depth interviews to develop the award-winning plan.

On behalf of the entire Booth community, the Marketing Group would like to congratulate the BelliSwap team on this well-deserved victory. Chicago Booth's reputation in marketing is constantly growing and your accomplishments will only help to demonstrate to the rest of the business world that Chicago Booth has some of the best, world-class marketing talent around. This is one more example of how Booth students look at a marketing issue and tackle it strategically, considering all angles and possibilities. Congratulations on your success and we look forward to the official launch of BelliSwap and to watching the company grow!