FORTUNE -- In front of a standing-room-only crowd at a Rice University auditorium Thursday night, business plan contestants set the scene: A would-be student entrepreneur walks into an elevator with Warren Buffett. They have 30 floors -- or 60 seconds -- to get him to invest in their company.
More than 40 student teams delivered elevator pitches to an imaginary Oracle of Omaha. But the crowd was real: Nearly 500 students, investors, and Texas business leaders crowded into the Houston business school auditorium. This micro-spiel showdown is a high-drama event at the university's annual business plan competition, which draws teams from all over the country to compete for $1.6 million over the course of three PowerPoint-filled days. Some stumbled -- a few presenters went cold in front of the crowd. And some succeeded, you can see all the pitches here.
The judges will hand out prizes to the winning teams at a gala on Saturday night, including $1,000 for the best elevator pitch and $450,000 for the top team. But for now, Fortune has picked a few of its favorites.
Best appeal to the hypochondriac in all of us: NanDio, University of Notre Dame
The plan: The team says it has a simple diagnostic test for the human papillomavirus, which it says is causing epidemic levels of oral cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The pitch: "Do you know what's in your mouth? It could be HPV."
Most likely to further depress manufacturing workers: NVBOTS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The plan: With 3-D printers already increasing the amount of automation in manufacturing, this team has developed one that can run all day and night.
The pitch: "We've eliminated the human from every step of the 3-D printing process. You can run our machines 24/7 without any human interaction."
Most likely to spark a sequel to The Graduate: PolyDrop, University of Washington
The plan: The company wants to make durable plastic materials that can conduct electricity. The team thinks its semiconducting polymers could take over the electrostatic charge dissipation market (yes, it's a mouthful), which it says is worth $2.3 billion.
The pitch: "We are PolyDrop, and we are completing the plastics revolution."
Most likely to purge Britney Spears songs from your bar night: CrowdTunes, Duke University
The plan: Create a digital jukebox marketplace where bar-goers can use their phones to control the sound system, paying per play, and paying more to play a song immediately.
The pitch: "Patrons can bid on their songs, and then outbid their friends with terrible taste. We've created a music marketplace where I've seen songs sold for $20 in bars."
Best reason to ditch that arts career and get an MBA: FilmShaker, London Business School
The plan: FilmShaker promises to be the "Netflix of independent films." With even the best indie films getting little distribution, the business would give those movies a platform, and a business model.
The pitch: "A few years ago, I met a producer whose movie won the Cannes Film Festival. He told me his movie hadn't made any money."
Big, transformative strategies create buzz, but a new book contends the real money is in the everyday stuff that most companies overlook.
FORTUNE -- Early on in Low-Hanging Fruit: 77 Eye-Opening Ways to Improve Productivity and Profits, co-authors Jeremy Eden and Terri Long quote Warren Buffett: "I don't look to jump over 7-foot bars. I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over."
Those small steps to greater efficiency, and fatter MOREAnne Fisher, contributor - Mar 27, 2014 5:00 AM ET
It is great that more women are talking about their careers. Now men need to join the conversation
By Sanyin Siang, Executive Director of the Coach K Leadership & Ethics Center.
When we started up the Women's Leadership Initiative at The Coach K leadership & Ethics Center (COLE) a few years ago, people would often ask: What's the connection between women's advancement and a brand that is so often associated with men's MOREAug 16, 2013 5:10 PM ET
Octogenarian CEOs are so last decade. Meet the new senior senior executives.
By Beth Kowitt, writer
FORTUNE -- David Murdock's push to take Dole Food private was all about long-term strategy. The CEO is buying out his company for $1.2 billion in order to implement a turnaround away from the pressures of the public market.
That's a big chunk of cash -- to say nothing of an open-ended project -- for anyone, MOREAug 16, 2013 9:00 AM ET
Improved interactive tool lets readers pick their dream executive team.
FORTUNE – Corporate management has never been more of a team endeavor. Talk to almost any large-company CEO about technology, for example, and he or she will tell you that a company's chief information officer needs to worry less about deploying PCs and smartphones, and spend more time working with the top marketing officer, sales executives, division heads, and others to MOREStephanie N. Mehta, Deputy Managing Editor - Jul 22, 2013 9:00 AM ET
Sara Blakely and eight other billionaires joined Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates' Giving Pledge, promising to devote at least 50% of their wealth to philanthropy.May 7, 2013 12:58 PM ET
Companies can talk about CEO succession planning all they want, but in times of turmoil, it's all about seeking refuge in familiar people.Shelley DuBois, writer-reporter - Apr 15, 2013 12:32 PM ET
Forty-two startup hopefuls delivered a minute-long hypothetical pitch to the Oracle of Omaha at Rice's Business Plan Competition. Here are our favorites.Apr 12, 2013 3:54 PM ET
Hubbard discusses the anxiety in MBA programs, Columbia's MBA application plunge, and why alum Warren Buffett has not donated.Feb 8, 2013 9:16 AM ET
Bears should have had a fine time in the 1969 market. But some followers of the hedge concept got clobbered on their shorts while being murdered on their longs. Worse than that, the SEC is moving in.
By Carol Loomis
This story is from the January 1970 issue of Fortune. It is the full text of an article excerpted in Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2012, a MORENov 21, 2012 11:48 AM ET
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