At the IBM SmartCamp Global Finals on Feb. 7th, IBM was happy to welcome not only business leaders and entrepreneurs in the audience, but many students as well. Here is a piece about the event written by MBA candidate Jamie Murphey from CUNY Baruch Zicklin School of Business.
When I walked into the Waldorf Astoria in New York City for the IBM Smartcamp Global Finals this winter I was struck immediately with the energy of the room. Underneath the twinkling chandeliers, the AV team wove their way through clusters of entrepreneurs, investors and innovators with last minute sound checks and lighting adjustments. As the music began to play and the Twitter feed began streaming tweets of encouragement to the competing teams, I could feel the buzz of excitement and expectation rippling through the quickly filling ballroom.
I was delighted to attend IBM’s SmartCamp Global Finals. It was an opportunity to see firsthand as innovators throughout the globe compete for a prize that could transform the lives of their team forever: recognition. Though we were here for the competitors, it was hard not to be dazzled by the speaker lineup. Mayor Bloomberg gave the opening remarks in a charming and self-deprecating review of his efforts to promote entrepreneurship. Several technology and investment thought leaders participated in panels on global entrepreneurship, and a former winner described his experience after being chosen as the winner at a previous SmartCamp.
When the competitors were introduced, it was clear that the competition this year was fierce. The eight finalists would have only 6 minutes to present their answer to IBM’s challenge to envision a Smarter Planet. The range of ideas and reach of ambition was impressive, and the applications were downright futuristic.
From retail solutions to medical applications, the finalists wowed the audience. The mobile company Poikos created a body measurement application that allows customers to shop for clothing online while assessing the fit of the clothes by modeling the outfits on a detailed scan of the individual’s body. StreetLight Data provides geo-targeting solutions for marketing professionals. HistoIndex focused on improving the diagnosis and treatment of fibrosis.
Before we knew it, all eight finalists had presented, and the judges withdrew to deliberate. As we waited for the final results from the judges, Barbara Corcoran, the founder of the Corcoran Group and much-loved Shark from ABC’s hit reality series “Shark Tank” spoke on her early experiences in business, and how tenacity and boldness enabled her to become one of the top real estate brokers in the city.
Then the announcement! The winner of the competition, and one of the most exciting innovations at the event, was MoDe, a technology company that facilitates micro-lending in Africa using mobile phone minutes as currency. The crowd approved, and the whole ballroom swelled with applause. I looked around at the faces of fellow entrepreneurs as we celebrated one of our own and was struck by the impact that IBM had created with their vision for a smarter planet. By providing leadership and cultivating potential, IBM brought people together from around the world to share ideas and grow together. Now that’s leadership.