8 Hour Business Challenge Winners

Team ParkSpace, winners of the 8 Hour Business Challenge. (L to R): Boomer Baker, Rachel Herzog, Jacob Wymetalek, and Riyadh Alriyashi.

CSUF Entrepreneurship co-ed Fraternity Sigma Upsilon Mu recently held their 8 Hour Business Challenge to encourage entrepreneurial activities from university students. It was an awesome event that tested the limits of what a group of students could accomplish entrepreneurially in, you guessed it, eight hours. Briefly, this competition asks of its competitors to come up with a business concept and over the course of eight hours they are tasked with developing this idea as much as they can and the competition culminates in an investor pitch to a group of judges.

The winners of this competition were a group called ParkSpace and their concept would help solve a problem that anybody who has ever had to park on the CSUF campus during peak hours has dealt with: finding a parking spot. The members of this team were: Boomer Baker, Rachel Herzog, Riyadh Alriyashi, and Jacob Wymetalek.

Since the competition I have had the chance to interview most of the members from the winning team. Here are some of their thoughts on the competition and what it meant to them.

Here’s a video interview I did with Boomer Baker

Interview with Riyadh Alriyashi

Travis: What was your business concept and how did your team come to that decision?

Riyadh: “ParkSpace” is the name of our business in which we use drone technology to gather updated data on available parking spaces in public and private parking lots. Then deliver the information to drivers via a mobile application which will save our users valuable time. We arrived to this after sharing about 6 different ideas and building on each other’s thoughts.

Travis: Considering the fact that your team hadn’t worked together previously, how was it working with a team for eight hours on a project of this magnitude?

Riyadh: Working with Boomer, Jacob and Rachel was very exciting. It was amazing how we all have team-mentality and know when to step-up and when to step-down. We spent the first few hours discussing how this business concept can have the elements for success. We utilized our resources and each other’s strengths. For example, Rachel designed our website with her marketing background. Jacob is a real genius in analyzing ideas. Boomer worked hard to crunch the numbers for our financials. We made a road-map of how tasks will be accomplished and by whom. Listening to each other was a vital part of our success. We came prepared with laptops, positive attitudes and open minds. We were a dream-team. The 8 hours passed very quickly.

Travis: How do you think a competition like the 8 Hour Business Challenge prepares you for your career/starting your own business?

Riyadh: This is the first time I have ever presented in a team to a business panel. At the end of each presentation, the judges, who are very sharp, asked hard questions. They infused us with valuable insight to thinking critically about business ideas, their strengths and weaknesses. Starting my own successful business is my goal and I believe that this challenge gets me one step closer to my goal. Even though wining the challenge was cool, the real win is actually spending the day with all those positive, supportive individuals and connecting with them. Building those friendships was the real prize for me. I am grateful for having the privilege to work with Jacob, Boomer and Rachel and meet other successful business people. Thanks to Sigma Upsilon Mu and everyone that helps in putting this event together. I currently study Finance and Accounting and inspired to be an entrepreneur

Travis: Do you have anything you’d like to say to students that are thinking about entering a business competition at CSUF but are hesitant to because they don’t have enough business experience?

Riyadh: The hardest part is showing up with positive attitudes and listening to others. Everyone has to start somewhere and being the person that knows the least in the room, means that you are more likely to learn the most.

Interview with Rachel Herzog

Travis: Why did you enter the 8 Hour Business Challenge?

Rachel: I have this mentality [where] I don’t want to graduate and feel like I didn’t seize all opportunities.

Travis: What did you get out of the 8 Hour Business Challenge?

Rachel: New friends, some from Loyola Marymount University and [the competition offered] a hands on experience with business in an energetic and fast paced environment.

With any competition on campus there is no harm in trying; you only have a chance to benefit [from the experience].

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