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May 6, 2005

By: Sara Sefeed


New York, Wednesday May 4th, 2005 -- The creators of Babak and Friends -- A First Norooz won the New York University Business Plan Competition. The team, which applied to the competition in late October of 2004, participated in four rounds of competition with 120 other teams. Norooz Productions won the sum of $30,000 and plans to use the money towards the creation of future products for the company.

Shabnam Rezaei, Managing Partner and NYU Stern alum said, “We could not be happier. We went into this competition expecting to get some face time with smart judges and to be able to think through our business strategy. We walked out with first place. We still can’t believe it.” Shabnam attended the EMBA program at NYU’s Stern School of business, which was ranked 4th in the world according to the Financial Times Top Business schools.

Norooz Productions, which consists of Rezaei and partners Aly Jetha, Dustin Ellis, and Mastaneh Moghadam presented a solid business plan. The team told judges that their dream was to be the leading company at the nexus of culture, entertainment and education. Norooz, which means “New Day” in Persian, wants to create consumer brands for different cultural groups using cartoons.

So far, the company has created Babak and Friends -- A First Norooz with an all-star cast around a very special holiday, the Persian New Year. Follow-on products for the fan base include character stickers, greeting cards, plush toys and illustrated storybooks starring Babak and his cousins Saman and Sousanne. Norooz hopes to one day extend this to other cultural groups such as the Korean or the Indian market.

Jetha commented, “Films, toys, storybooks and other entertainment products play a strong role in educating children. For families of non-European descent, there are very few products that entertain and teach using their cultures and languages as the backdrop for the story or product. Norooz Productions hopes to offer families entertainment that speaks directly to them and also create a better understanding of non-European cultures for the mainstream market to promote tolerance.”

The company was also granted an invitation to Stern's Incubator, which they plan to make full use of.

The contest, which is run by NYU’s Stern School of Business, promotes entrepreneurship and innovation through various activities in their Berkley Center for students and alumni. Applicants have to present a plan with at least one Stern Alumni in the group and are given access to mentors to help in the process. This year some top contenders participated, including second place runner-up Auricle, Inc. Their plan was to do for hearing aids what Lenscrafters did for glasses. Among the judges for the final rounds were distinguished business leaders such as William Berkley, CEO of the Berkley Corporation, Marshall Butler, Chairman of the Board of FIMI/Israel Infinity, Peter G. Sachs, Senior Director of Goldman Sachs, and Paul P. Tanico, founder and CEO of Castlerock Management.


-- About the Business Plan Competition
-- About NYU Stern
-- About Norooz Productions


About Sara Sefeed
Sara Sefeed is a Senior Editor for from New York, NY.

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