Forecasting The Future: What's In Store For The Massachusetts Entrepreneur?

Contact: WPI Venture Forum, +1-508-831-5075

It was not so long ago that we were experiencing the dawn of a "new" economy. The stock market soared; new ventures were sprouting up like wildflowers; start-up financing was easy to come by, and the economic mood from Wall Street to Main Street was euphoric. What a difference a few months make! The revolution has collapsed; the stock market has tanked; the high-flyers of the new economy are reporting dismal financial results; thousands of workers are being let go almost daily; venture capital financing has all but dried up, and the IPO market has come to a virtual standstill.

For entrepreneurs and start-ups trying to begin their new venture or grow their business, these are difficult times indeed. The questions on every business owner's mind are what do we have to do to make it through the tough times and when will things improve?

Worcester Business Journal acting editor Christina L. Pappas, the keynote speaker at the September 11 WPI Venture Forum program, has developed a keen sense of the regional business climate through her extensive contacts with a variety of business owners, venture capitalists, economists and other professionals with whom she deals on a regular basis as part of her journalistic work with the WBJ. She has seen many of the region's most exciting businesses thrive, stumble (sometimes both), during her tenure at the business publication. She has also plugged into numerous startup companies, through WBJ's "Startups" column and its Top Growth Companies project. Based on her own observations of the business community, the collective input of her many contacts and the extensive business research resources available to the WBJ, Pappas will offer the audience a forecast of the business climate looking out six months to two years, and will offer some practical tips on how start-ups, as well as established businesses, can make it through these tough times.

Pappas began her journalism career in 1986 as senior writer with the former Business Worcester. In 1989, she became investor relations coordinator at the former Cambridge Biotech Corp., and in 1993, she assumed the position of managing editor for WBJ, a biweekly business publication serving the Central Mass. and Metrowest regions. Since July, she's served as acting editor. Her journalistic and corporate experience has given her a first-hand, "street-level" look at the forces that shape the economy and business policy today.

Case Presenter

The founders of Vayusa, Inc., from left to right: Walter Stock, Ajay Bam, Anshu Dua, Troy Chen.

Walter Stock, Co-Founder
Vayusa Inc.
Box 81, Babson College, Babson Park, MA 02457, Mobile (617) 256-3369,

Are you tired of carrying around a wallet full of cash, checks, and credit cards to pay for consumer goods? In Scandinavia and Japan, you can pay for your parking and consumer goods at certain retail locations and vending machines using your cell phone. Vayusa, Inc., the case study for the September 11 WPI Venture Forum program, has developed technology which allows similar quick and easy point-of-sale purchases to be made in the United States using existing cell phones and U.S. wireless networks.

Vayusa's payment platform allows consumers to access and use their checking account, debit cards, credit cards and loyalty/discount cards through their cell phone. The company touts its payment process as being as fast as a credit card transaction, but more secure. By increasing the security of the transaction, Vayusa plans to reduce the amount of fraud within the payment industry and pass those savings on to the merchants and consumers through lower transaction fees. Vayusa's technology is expected to appeal particularly to younger customers who are already heavy users of cell phones. It will allow merchants to more easily co-promote loyalty/private label cards and customers will enjoy the convenience of the technology and the enhanced reward programs likely to be offered by merchants who adopt the payment platform.

Vayusa's four founders, Ajay Bam, Walter Stock, Troy Chen and Anshu Dua, have broad experience working with start-ups and technology companies as well as extensive expertise in software engineering, operations management and business development. The founders receive counsel from a formidable board of advisors with far-reaching experience in the wireless, telecommunications, retail and venture capital industries. In order to round out the management team, Vayusa intends to hire a CEO and a CTO by the end of this year. Vayusa estimates that it will need to raise $1,000,000 to cover the beta phase of product development.

Walter Stock, a Vayusa co-founder, will summarize Vayusa's business plan for the audience. Immediately following Mr. Stock's presentation, three panelists from the business community will comment on Vayusa's written business plan and presentation. This will be followed by a question and answer session with the audience.

About the WPI Venture Forum

The WPI Venture Forum was created in 1990 to promote the entrepreneurial spirit and to serve those who engage in technology- based entrepreneurial enterprises by providing advice, support and education tailored to meet their needs. The forum fosters entrepreneurship through such activities as monthly programs, a business plan contest, a weekly radio show on News Radio WTAG (Saturdays, 5-7 pm, 580am), and a monthly newsletter.

The Venture Forum, as part of the Collaborative for Entrepreneurship & Innovation in the Department of Management at WPI, serves individuals who are seeking to begin their own technology-based businesses; founders, presidents, and senior managers of start-up or early-stage companies; senior managers of companies that are restarting or making a transition for one mode of operation to another; and employees leaving large companies due to a reduction in force or to start businesses.