Walk with an Entrepreneur

By May 5, 2014 March 20th, 2015 Blog Posts

Since I talked about business plan and competitions in my last blog, you may have a general idea about these… so did I at that time. However, when actually experiencing one, I now really know what they are.
Do you want to know more about them?

Let me share my business plan competition story with you…

Every business plan begin with an idea, an idea that is worthwhile to commercialize. Usually the ideas are technology-based patents, novel apps, or the solutions to the social problems. Since TEAM students all have technical backgrounds, the majority of our ideas fall under the first category I named.

Three TEAM students and I formed a team; our idea is a patented silicon nano-membrane based hemodialysis device. Since this nano-membrane is 100 to 1,000 times more efficient than those currently used, we want to develop a portable hemodialysis device around it.

Our team participated in the New York State Business Plan Competition. We became one of two finalists in the Biotechnology/Healthcare category in the Finger Lakes Region, and our team was selected to go to Albany, the capital of New York State, to fight for a $100,000 grand prize! Since we stood out from the other teams in this region, I’d like to share some of my experiences with you guys:



Here communication has two meanings. Firstly, team members should communicate with the coaches and inventors effectively. Our team has a weekly meeting with our coach and inventors where we update them on our progress ask them for help, and question them so that they can give us guidance. Secondly, communication and sharing inside the team is important. In addition to our weekly meetings with our coach and inventors, we meet two or three times a week. We have a Facebook group for instant messaging and we also use Dropbox to store materials so we can share every team member’s work and research within the group.


Since you’re reading the TEAM blog, you must already have a passion for entrepreneurship. Why not just chase this great chance and devote yourself to it? A great team is as significant as a brilliant idea, sometimes even more so than the idea. I am so glad I have a great team. Recently, our team has added some new faces: a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering has joined us, who is responsible for designing a 3D printable device prototype and an undergraduate in Computer Science who is in charge of our company’s website. By the way, we already registered as an LLC (Limited Liability Company).


Get to know the technology and the market. A strong understanding of these two things will let you know if the proposed solution is right for the market demand.

Is it technologically possible to make a change to our solution according to market demand?

What is the value proposition?


Here is our example:

Originally we wanted to make the hemodialysis treatment faster because people spend too much time receiving it. However, since we went through scientific papers and talked to doctors from the University of Rochester Medical Center, we learned we cannot make it faster due to the limits of blood cells’ properties. When we interviewed the patients and doctors from the local dialysis center, we learned what they care most about is the high risk of complications associated with hemodialysis and their quality of life is poor. Our product lowers the risks and improves patient quality of life. We changed our value proposition in order to better fit the need.


These are some of my experiences while working on a business plan. I will share more with you next time!


– Bowei Zhang ’14 (MS)

Bowei Zhang


Editor’s Note: Bowei’s team, SmartDialysis, won Rookie of the Year in the Biotechnology/Healthcare Category in the 2014 New York Business Plan Competition and is invited to return to the competition next year based on its promising business plan.