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Business-plan competitions have fostered a "contest economy" that promotes start-up activity and much-needed innovation.

Puneet Mehta, Archana Patchirajan, and Sonpreet Bhatia all had lucrative day jobs as technologists at big Wall Street firms when they learned about the NYC BigApps competition last October. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was calling on software developers to create mobile apps based on newly released city data. The two-month deadline gave the three Indian-born developers the incentive to build out an idea they had only talked about before. After 40 days, they had a one-stop application called NYC Way, which puts a compendium of city information at users' fingertips.

Their efforts were rewarded with $5,500 in cash prizes, a meeting with the mayor, and an overwhelmingly positive public reception for their product, which has become a popular download through Apple's App Store. Encouraged, the three partners quit their jobs and co-founded a business called MyCityWay, which now markets similar apps for seven additional cities and multiple platforms, earning revenue through partnerships. In April, the company received $300,000 in seed money from the NYC Entrepreneurial Fund, a new city fund set up to invest in start-ups. The company expects to make its first hires this summer.

To read the full, original article click on this link: Revitalizing the American Dream: How Business-Plan Competitions Reward Innovation

Author: Adam Bluestein and Amy Barrett