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Northwestern undergraduate Luke Liu (third from left) wins the 2011 Kellogg Cup championship. He founded venture TicketSnagger with Northwestern graduate Kolin Pound ’10.

2011 Kellogg Cup

2011 Kellogg Cup

Northwestern undergraduate Luke Liu captures the title with his business plan for TicketSnagger

By Daniel P. Smith

6/14/2011 - Luke Liu can share a great underdog story.

The youngest competitor in the 2011 Kellogg Cup championship round and the only one of five finalists who presented solo, Liu nabbed the title with his plan for TicketSnagger, an online startup that allows buyers to set prices at which they would buy tickets.

For his victory, Liu secured the annual competition’s $7,000 grand prize as well as the credibility that comes with the prestigious honor.

“This is huge for us,” said Liu, a 20-year-old economics major who created the venture with Kolin Pound ’10. “The more money we have to finance our [October 2011] launch and the marketing efforts behind that, the better.”

The May 25 business-plan competition served as the concluding bookend to the eighth annual Kellogg Alumni Entrepreneurship Conference. Taking place during Northwestern Entrepreneurship Week, the conference was among a series of events hosted by various entrepreneurial groups across the university May 23-27.

Fifty teams began the Kellogg Cup journey in the fall. After two preliminary rounds, the finals pit three teams from Kellogg against a pair of teams from the campus-wide Northwestern University Venture Challenge (NUVC).

Judges Scott Glickson of McGuireWoods LLP, Maura O’Hara ’96 of the Illinois Venture Capital Association and Raman Chadha ’95, executive director of DePaul University’s Coleman Entrepreneurship Center, selected TicketSnagger, an NUVC invitee, over four other finalists:

  • Koa Organic Water, a bottler of water derived exclusively from plants;
  • Present Bee, an online gift-giving tool;
  • Prescouter, which aggregates academic research for corporate researchers; and
  • Sleevecandy, an online retailer of vintage T-shirts.
Driven by frustration while trying to sell unused Chicago Bulls tickets on passive websites such as StubHub and Craigslist, Liu and Pound created TicketSnagger, which reverses the current dynamic in the secondary ticket market to match sellers to buyers. While the two plan an October launch in Chicago to capitalize on the start of the NBA and NHL seasons, they hope to soon expand TicketSnagger to other cities and, in time, enter the theater and concert marketplace.

Chadha said Liu hit on all of the judges’ core criteria with precision and efficiency.

“[Liu] was excellent in his presentation, articulating the idea and setting a plan for the execution of the business,” Chadha said.