The sixth annual Titan Fast Pitch, held at Cal State Fullerton and hosted by the Mihaylo College Center for Entrepreneurship and Center for Economic Education, took place on Oct. 27, 2018. Sponsored by community organizations and companies, including MUFG Union Bank, N.A., the event drew about 400 people, who spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon at the Titan Student Union to hear more than 150 secondary, college and university students pitch their innovative concepts in 60 seconds.
Experience at such brief but succinct pitches are invaluable to students as they consider actual business concepts or hone their skills at marketing themselves, a necessity in today’s competitive professional environment. Judged by a diverse cross-section of professionals, students competed to receive scholarships to fund their academic dreams.
The event started off with words from hosts, John Bradley Jackson, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, and Radha Bhattacharya, director for the Center for Economic Education, who discussed the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation in everyone’s lives and how the pitches that the students were presenting would be the first steps in that creative process.
Two representatives from MUFG Union Bank, N.A., the Platinum Sponsor for the Titan Fast Pitch this year, also gave opening remarks. Duane Allen, Managing Director, Retail Private Banking and Programs Executive, and Rossina Gallegos, Director, Corporate Social Responsibility Officer,, both delivered encouraging words for the students. They exemplified the importance of a positive community influence, which is at the forefront of MUFG Union Bank, N.A.’s culture.
“The partnership with CSUF on the Titan Fast Pitch Competition program is directly aligned with MUFG Union Bank, N.A.’s (MUFG) Inclusion & Diversity strategy, focused on increasing the innovative and creative solutions through the engagement of our diverse workforce and to help develop and give back to the communities we serve,” says Riley Folds, Head of MUFG Inclusion & Diversity for the Americas.
Julius Robinson, Chairman and CEO of the MUFG Union Bank Foundation said: “MUFG Union Bank Foundation is focused on catalyzing economic growth and prosperity through small business support. Through the BEAT (Building Emerging and Aspiring Talent) initiative, which engages our diverse millennial workforce, we saw value in creating a partnership with effective entrepreneurship programs at local universities. CSUF stood out for its capacity to cultivate innovation and entrepreneurship that will deliver meaningful impact for program participants and the community.”
The Bullpen Round
The first round of the Titan Fast Pitch is the Bullpen Round, in which all competitors pitch multiple times. Students queued in front of each of the about 50 judges, with students at the front of each line providing a 60-second pitch, taking turns to share their entrepreneurial visions with the judges.
Walking around the room during the Bullpen Round, you could see a full range of emotion from trepidation to excitement to joy. It was loud, in keeping with the fast pace of the competition. The students pitched for nearly one hour during the Bullpen Round, giving their pitches at least 10 times to gain the best scores possible.
The format is in keeping with the purpose of the fast pitch, also known as an elevator pitch, in which presenters have only one minute to interest another in the concept being developed. The room can be loud, the person you are talking to may be distracted but you have to find some way to make them interested in what you are doing before they move on to something else.
While the Bullpen judges’ scores were tabulated to determine the four finalists for each of thedivisions, which encompassed university, high school and middle school, there were several opportunity drawings in which students received goodies, such as:
- Laptop desks from LapWorks
- Gift certificates from donors such as Deb Ferber and Irving Kau
- Cal State Fullerton swag
- Business books
The audience was also entertained by a frenetic performance by the CSUF breakdance crew, which everyone enjoyed.
The Lightning Round featured a different format that in previous years. This time, in addition to university and high school students, we had a division for middle schoolers. These students brought very innovative ideas and were passionate and confident presenting them on the stage to our panel of VIP judges.
VIP judges included:
Natalia Razeghi – Vice President, Credit Executive, MUFG Union Bank, N.A.
Dan Black – Entrepreneur and philanthropist
Karl Freels – Philanthropist
Ken Guchereau – Owner of Guchereau Company
Deb Ferber – CSUF entrepreneurship lecturer and venture funding expert
Titan Fast Pitch Winners
At the conclusion of the presentations, the VIP judges deliberated on the placement for each division, with 12 scholarships up for grabs. At the university level, the awards were $1,500 for first place, $1,000 for second, $500 for third and $250 for fourth. At both the high school and middle school levels, winners received $400 for first place, $300 for second, $200 for third and $100 for fourth.
This year’s winners were as follows:
- Nicholas DeOrian, Cal State Fullerton
- Tristan Starkweather, Cal State Fullerton
- Zarina Bahadur, UC Irvine
- Estela Perfetti, Cal State Fullerton
- Gabriela Guevara and Neslie Orozco, Los Altos High School
- Phiphi Dinh and Teresa Xiao, Lincoln High School
- Jose Alvarez and Jocelyn Cuera, Western High School
- Ashley Shire, Western High School
- Hannah Urbina, Andrea Mijangos and Victoria Galvez, Florence Nightingale Middle School
- Mariela Cruz, Florence Nightingale Middle School
- Zhi Jing Liu, Florence Nightingale Middle School
- Matthew Mosqueda, Florence Nightingale Middle School
Congratulations to our winners and to everyone who competed in the Titan Fast Pitch! It is an exciting event and we are glad that so many students, so many future entrepreneurs, participated.
Special thanks must be given to all our sponsors:
Platinum Sponsor: MUFG Union Bank, N.A..
Gold Sponsors: Dan Black Family Foundation, Royal Business Bank, US Bank, Vas Arora Family Foundation and LapWorks.
The Titan Fast Pitch was a large event that was months in the planning and we could not have done it without the support of many people and organizations, including the following Cal State Fullerton faculty and staff members and clubs:
Radha Bhattacharya, Atul Teckchandani, Tom Miller, Deb Ferber, Jack Mixner, Scott Sorrel, David Obstfeld, Charlesetta Medina, Cristian Sanchez, The Entrepreneur Society, Sigma Upsilon Mu and the Student Innovation Collective.
We also thank all of the judges who came out to hear pitches during the Bullpen Round of the competition and to everyone who volunteered on the day of the event.
Thank you all!