(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Aug. 28, 2014) A California Lutheran University faculty member’s team took first place in a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology boot camp that challenges entrepreneurs from around the world to create a startup in a week.
Reneé Rock, a senior lecturer in entrepreneurship in the School of Management, pitched her group’s idea for a startup targeting the fashion industry through new technology at the end of the intense five-day MITx Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp on Aug. 22. Not only did the judges award first place to Rock’s team, but one of the venture capitalists on the panel immediately offered to invest for a 50-percent share. The crowd rose for a standing ovation.
Rock was one of 47 participants selected from more than 5,000 applicants based on entrepreneurial potential, long-term vision, analytical capacity, community contributions and a focus on excellence. The participants came from 22 countries and they ranged from a man who never attended college to a Harvard law graduate.
Bill Aulet, who has raised more than $100 million in funding for his startup companies and serves as managing director of the Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship at MIT, led the boot camp. Faculty, entrepreneurs, engineers and scientists from MIT presented seminars and provided coaching. Teams formed around the top ideas and spent 20-hour days working on their startups. At the end, each team had 10 minutes to pitch its idea and five minutes to answer questions from the panel of venture capitalists.
Rock’s teammates were David Anderton, director of NG Development in London; Prateek Gupta, business development manager at AirPair in San Francisco; Billy Kirkley, managing partner of USUSU Technology Group in Brisbane, Australia; Sarah Klein, director of student development at the University of Miami; and Mateo Nakah, vice president of technology management firm Atus in Juarez, Mexico. They beat out entrepreneurs with ideas for an airship drone from Brazil that tests crop disease, a water system in Tanzania that helps poor women become entrepreneurs and a virtual reality platform that turns Google maps into a game. Since winning the competition, Rock’s team has had several meetings with venture capitalists.
A Cal Lutheran alumnus, Rock founded her first company, Khamillion Cosmetics, at the age of 22 and went on to start two more companies. The Moorpark resident was the managing director of business development for Summit Venture Strategies from 2002 to 2007. During her tenure with the company, she served as interim vice president of marketing and business development at several startups. She is the president of her own startup mentoring company and develops business plans for growth-stage companies. She has coached both early-stage and growth entrepreneurs on high-impact presentations and team communication.