We just completed the fourth annual CSUF Business Plan Competition Finals yesterday and we are excited to say that this one was spectacular! Approximately 150 people attended this year’s event including CSUF students, alumni, faculty, staff, community members, and a group of middle school students that the Center for Entrepreneurship has been mentoring in the areas of Entrepreneurship and STEM. We started the day off by showcasing a collection of innovative projects and businesses that CSUF students and community members are working on and finished with presentations from the finalists in our CSUF Business Plan Competition. All of the Finalists did superb jobs presenting their respective business ideas (Judge France Helfer noted that it was an extremely close vote) and we were ecstatic at how well the Innovation Exhibition, something we had never done before, went.
Starting at noon in the Titan Student Union’s Pavilion A, we launched our first ever Innovation Exhibition. The idea behind this exhibition was to promote our most creative students, alumni, and community members to as wide of an audience as we could muster. Many groups participated in the Innovation Exhibition including:
- CSUF Startup Incubator Resident Casey Farmen’s Rescuewares
- Titan UAV
- Titan Rover
- Acel Solutions
- And others!
One of the cool exhibitors was our drone team and they were able to have one of their quad copters fly at the event.
The Center for Entrepreneurship would not have been able to pull off this exhibition without the help of Titan Innovation and Sigma Upsilon Mu (the CSUF Entrepreneurship fraternity/sorority on campus). In particular, Amerika Bernal, Andre Conde (who won last year’s CSUF Business Plan Competition), Cristian Sanchez, Miguel Olivares, and Lorenzo Santos were instrumental in making this event a success.
A little after 1pm we started the main attraction: the CSUF Business Plan Competition Finals. This year we welcomed:
- Exo Assistive Technologies with their concept of a backpack that aids people with disabilities and the elderly in lifting everyday items that most of us take for granted. Their team was headed by CSUF engineering student Trevor McLeran and a group of business students from Sigm Upsilon Mu including: Dan Nannery, Jessica Bonilla, and Nick Sieverson.
- Arrow Cone was the second business presented. Phillipe Rodriguez did an excellent job of presenting his idea for a cone that is shaped like an arrow. The idea is that these kinds of cones will help youth sports coaches train their student athletes. Setting Phillipe apart was that he has some solid connections in the industry and his background makes him a good candidate for making a business like this successful.
- Finally, CSUF Startup Incubator resident Mike Kirtland presented his business concept OneMessageID. His idea is to connect neighbors in the offline world online but, instead of trying to explain his idea myself I’ll let him do that:
All of the presentations were great, which made it tough for judges Shari Rudolph, France Helfer, Michael Sawitz, and Dan Black but they were able to come to a consensus: Mike Kirtland’s OneMessageID finished in first place followed by Arrow Cone in second and Exo Assistive Technologies in third. Each Finalist received cash prizes and in-kind services to help them seed their fledgling businesses. We hope that they go on to do great things with their businesses in the future.
Hosting one of these events is quite the task but looking at all of the excitement from the crowd and the participants along with the knowledge that the awards given will go to advance entrepreneurial activities makes it all worth it. The 2015 competition is over but we are planning on hosting another Titan Fast Pitch Competition during the Fall Semester. If you are interested in seeing what the previous CSUF Business Plan Competitions were like we covered them in:
Whether you participate as a competitor, an Innovation Exhibitor, or as a member of the audience we sincerely hope to see you at next years’ competition.