Another beautiful Friday afternoon in Southern California and another CSUF Startup Competition is in the books. Actually, this just reminded me of the first one of these competitions that we held seven years ago, then called the CSUF Business Plan Competition, and it was a raining, dark dreary day. Today was anything but dark and dreary and we are happy to report that the event was a tremendous success!

For starters, the student-entrepreneurs presenting did fantastic. We have covered their concepts previously, see here, but they all improved so much from the semifinals to the finals. It’s awe inspiring what our students can do with just a little bit of opportunity.

Each of the six finalists gave an eight minute presentation followed by questions from our judges. Each presentation covered five key aspects of a startup, including: Problem, Solution, Customers, Business Model, and what Resources they would need to launch their businesses.

CSUF Startup Competition Judges
CSUF Startup Competition Judges: (Left to Right) CSUF Entrepreneurship Director John Bradley Jackson, Barry Lieberman, Ken Guchereau, A. Cathleen Greiner, and Karl Freels

They presented to our judges, including: Ken Guchereau, Karl Freels, A. Cathlein Greiner Ph.D., and Barry Lieberman. All of them had a tough job to do, first listening to all the presentations, asking insightful questions, and then they had the unenviable task of deciding what place each of the student-entrepreneurs would finish in. It was definitely a tough decision to make but they were the right people to make it.

And the crowd deserves a lot of thanks as well. They didn’t come for any snacks, although we did offer some sour candies and waters, or for any prizes; they came to support these student-entrepreneurs. After the competition was over I saw a number of people from the crowd talking with the student-entrepreneurs about their concept and how they can go about launching their startups.

Speaking of launching startups, we would be remiss if we didn’t highlight the tremendous support that this competition received from donors and in-kind sponsors. The people and organizations donating cash to the competition to support the scholarships and the operational costs for the competition, our

CSUF Startup Competition Cash Sponsor

  • Dan Black and Karl Freels, Black Family Foundation
  • Royal Business Bank
  • Ken Guchereau
  • Dr. Deborah Ferber
  • CSUF Entrepreneurship

CSUF Startup Incubator In-kind Sponsors

  • CSUF Startup Incubator (each finalist of the CSUF Startup Competition receives a six month residency at the CSUF Startup Incubator, where we help entrepreneurs go from concept to launch)
  • Jose Calero
  • Michael Daehn
  • Jeff Greenberg
  • France Helfer
  • Justin Sanders, Esq.
  • The BirdDog Group

Now let’s find out who won the CSUF Startup Competition!

Sixth Place: Safe Space

CSUF Startup Competition Safe Space
CSUF Startup Competition Safe Space

Founded by Raul Chavez, Kasie Chen, Josue Flores, and Brian Brady, Safe Space’s mission is to give people with disabilities a safe space where they can exercise their bodies and their minds.

Fifth Place: Ayli

CSUF Startup Competition Ayli
CSUF Startup Competition Ayli

Founded by Brandon Hawkinson, Kai Iseda, Gaury Verma, Chris Nguyen, and Dat Nguyen, Ayli utilizes machine learning algorithms to gameify online personal data security. Users of Ayli will, in essence, have a 24/7 online personal bodyguard that will communicate with all of the other bodyguard’s in the Ayli ecosystem to quickly identify threats and help users avoid or neutralize those threats.

Fourth Place: Runball

CSUF Startup Competition Runball
CSUF Startup Competition Runball

Founder Leonardo Gomez was challenged by something that many dog owners have to deal with: a rambunctious dog who just doesn’t want to give up the ball he just fetched. Leonardo came up with the ingenious solution of combining the ball that dog’s fetch with a rope that is long enough to help the owner’s pet expend their doggy energy but keeps it tethered to the owner for easy retrieval.

Third Place: Tomorrow’s Tone

CSUF Startup Competition Tomorrow's Tone
CSUF Startup Competition Tomorrow’s Tone

Founded by Russell Gilchrist, Michael Ruiz, and Josh Sloane, Tomorrow’s Tone aims to provide a more effective learning environment to children with special needs. Through the educational power of music, this team has developed a revolutionary musical educational system that will help kids with autism and other needs to live the best lives they possibly can.

Second Place: Captshield

CSUF Startup Competition Captshield
CSUF Startup Competition Captshield

Founded by Kylie Toney, Captshield aims to solve the growing problem of youth concussions through the use of a patented helmet. Kylie, who has witnessed soccer players suffer concussions earlier in her life while an athlete herself, has been working on this concept for some time and is confident that this solution will help reduce this problem.

First Place: 10-8 Systems

CSUF Startup Competition 10-8 Systems
CSUF Startup Competition 10-8 Systems

Founded by Bryan Ruef, 10-8 Systems aims to bring the technology that big cities use to dispatch police, fire, and other first responders to smaller municipalities. This technology, called Computer Aided Dispatch, is financially out of reach for many smaller communities and Bryan has come up with a stellar solution that will enable smaller municipalities to respond to emergencies much more quickly.

Congratulations to all of the finalists and to all of the student-entrepreneurs who participated in the CSUF Startup Competition this year!

CSUF Entrepreneurship

We are dedicated to helping the next generation of entrepreneurs develop the skills that they need to compete locally and globally. The CSUF Entrepreneurship program does many things, including: consulting projects where students serve up fresh strategies to actual businesses, competitions for students from middle school to grad school, helping entrepreneurs go from concept to launch, frequent seminars and office hours for entrepreneurs and professionals, and much more. Interested in becoming a part of the CSUF Entrepreneurship community? Reach out to us at csufentrepreneurship@fullerton.edu for more information!

Published by CSUF Entrepreneurship

We teach, coach and lead the principled, cross-disciplinary practice of entrepreneurship. We believe that, through determined practice, leadership and team work, our students, faculty, clients, volunteers and alums can systematically recombine the new and the old to forge new ventures, create an entrepreneurial culture, and dramatically benefit our community.

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