Starting in January, approximately 100 student-entrepreneurs entered the CSUF Business Plan Competition to see if their idea was the best on campus. After months of submitting business concepts, presenting in front of judges, and more than 150 attendees at the Finals we can now announce the winner…
But first, lets do a brief recap of the event. Surprisingly, there was a bit of rain that accompanied this competition but it in no way dampened the crowd’s enthusiasm for this year’s Innovation Fair. Our Innovation Fair gives student-entrepreneurs, engineering students, student clubs, CSUF Startup Incubator Residents, and other partner organizations the opportunity to showcase the cool projects and work that they are doing. This year we were proud to welcome CSUF Titan Baja racing team, CSUF Mars Rover team, KIDnetics Energy Labs, Sigma Upsilon Mu, SCORE, and some others as well.
After the Innovation Fair ended and all the attendees, including students and teachers from Charter Oak High School, took their seats Director Jackson welcomed the audience by introducing the Center for Entrepreneurship, explaining how the competition works, and giving a brief description of each competitor.
In particular, much thanks was given to the cash sponsors of this competition, including:
- The Dan Black Family Foundation
- France Helfer
- Union Bank
- The Ed Huizinga Innovative Idea Fund
We also had a number of in-kind service sponsors including:
The presentations came next with each lasting thirty minutes including a Q&A and setup. These are nerve racking experiences for the student-entrepreneurs because not only are they presenting for scholarships, in-kind services, and in front of more than 150 people but also because of our powerhouse judging panel.
The judges included: Michael Sawitz of FastStart.studio, Kelly Anderson of CSuite Financial Partners, France Helfer of TinyKicks LLC, Myles Kovacs of Dub Magazine, Karl Freels of the Dan Black Family Foundation, and Dan Black served as an alternate. It was fun watching these experienced entrepreneurs and investors question our competitors and I’m sure these questions helped the competitors learn a lot about their businesses.
After all the presentations finished and judges had concluded their deliberations we were able to announce that Little Nexus was this year’s CSUF Business Plan Competition winner!
Team leaders Mandy Wang and Miguel Olivares (pictured above, photo courtesy of Sigma Upsilon Mu) have been working on this concept since the Fall semester in our New Venture courses. They have also worked closely with many different mentors including Tech Coast Angel and CSUF Entrepreneur mentor Peter DeAngelis on sharpening their business model and presentation.
Little Nexus is developing a platform that will help nonprofits (student clubs to start) do fundraising efforts with local business, especially restaurants. Their mission is to make fundraising efforts much more effective than they already are by tearing down barriers to setting up fundraising efforts. Many nonprofits, especially student clubs, have nowhere to turn when developing fundraising campaigns and end up not starting one or doing a poor job at it. Little Nexus aims to change that.
As the winners of the CSUF Business Plan Competition, Little Nexus will receive a $2,500 scholarship, and in-kind services.
Coming in second place at the CSUF Business Plan Competition was CSUF Startup Incubator Resident John Tsui’s Chopit Drones. His idea is an innovative take on bridge inspections through the utilization of drone and advanced imaging technologies to make inspections quicker and cheaper than they currently are. If you don’t think this is a big deal, think again! Bridge inspections cost a lot of money and they also require at least partial closure closure of bridges during inspections, which costs commuters millions of hours every year. John won the Titan Fast Pitch competition last fall so he is on quite a streak!
Chopit Drones will receive a $1,000 scholarship and in-kind services.
Third place went to Trail Tracker who are in the process of developing an enhanced emergency alert system for people who go hiking, camping, or partake in any other outdoor activity. Basically, they are developing a device that the user can activate when they get lost or injured and this device will alert the proper authorities. Thousands of people die every year while partaking in outdoor activities and many times more than that get lost or injured.
Trail Tracker will receive a $500 scholarship and in-kind services.
We also had the KIDnetic Energy Labs team at the competition as alternates. This concept comes from another one of our CSUF Startup Incubator Residents, Michael Stanislawczyk, who sees a fundamental deficiency in the way that students are currently taught STEM/STEAM subjects.
As the alternates, KIDnetic Energy Labs will receive a $250 scholarship and $289 of in-kind services.
These events are tremendous undertakings taking many months worth of planning. We would be remiss if we did not thank the members of the planning committee, including:
- Director John Bradley Jackson
- Dr. Atul Teckchandani
- Professor Tom Miller
- Professor Jack Mixner
- Professor Scott Sorrell
- Professor Jeff Longshaw
- Phillip Stinis
- Charlesetta Medina
- Cristian Sanchez
- Amerika Bernal
- Miguel Olivares
- John Veta
- Tristan Schmidt
- Rachel Herzog
- Jessica Bonilla
Thank you to everyone who participated in this competition and we look forward to seeing what next year’s competition has to bring!
Oh, and here are some links to the previous CSUF Business plan Competitions:
And do not forget about the Titan Fast Pitch Competition that is scheduled for Saturday, October 29 this year!
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