Boise's best reality show was nowhere near a television camera on Dec. 7. But the excitement at the B-Launched competition was tangible--contestants broke into spates of nervous laughter awaiting an announcement that could redefine their professional lives.
"And the winner is ...," said Bill Connors, president and CEO of the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce who had everyone's attention. "Follow and
The room burst into applause, as 10 men and women on the winning team, members of Boise Young Professionals, hugged and high-fived. Their germ of a business idea instantly took a huge step toward reality.
The competition, a program of BYP, may have been the best-kept secret in town. B-Launched pitted five teams of 10 participants each in a three-month race to discover a good idea and develop it into a really, really good idea.
The competition's panel of judges included Connors; Boise Mayor Dave Bieter; Dr. David Pate, president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System; Elizabeth Marshall of Marshall and Associates; and Rick Belluzzo, former chief operating officer of Microsoft.
"It was tough picking a winner," said Belluzo. "I really struggled. They were all very good."
Citydesk was hard-pressed to get too many details regarding the companies--each contestant was bound to a non-disclosure agreement.
"What we can tell you is that our mission is focused on education," said Christine Quintana, one of the winning presenters. "We want to empower higher-ed students to redefine the way their education is funded. Isn't that intriguing?"
The Follow and
Fun Fund team won a $15,000 first place prize to move closer to formally launching their idea into the marketplace as soon as May 2012.
"We'll use the money to hire developers and build a prototype. That will happen between now and March," said Quintana.
Quintana has a day-job as a product marketing analyst for Hewlett-Packard. Her teammates include a teacher, musician, banker, attorney, software engineers and nonprofit manager.
The year 2012 will be busy in the Quintana household. While Quintana helps build what could be Boise's next big business, her husband, Ben, will be sworn in as Boise's newest City Council member.