Last Saturday I witnessed an amazing display of business acumen from both university and high school students that I wasn’t expecting. Presented by Wells Fargo, the Black Family Trust and the Guchereau Company, the CSUF Fast Pitch Business Competition was structured so that each contestant, 50-plus in total, presented a business idea in 60 seconds or less and did an amazing job at it too. I heard business ideas of all kinds including: a heads-up-display for motorcycle helmets, a build your own bra service, stem cell kiosks, cleaning equipment for makeup brushes and many others. Some of the ideas were a bit out there but, even then, I think that if the presenter worked at their idea for a while even those ideas could become something that was worth growing.
Actually, We do have video of the stem cell therapy business (after this paragraph). John Chi is the owner of that business, called Synova Life Sciences, and he gave an excellent presentation. Also, if you are familiar with our program, you will know that John previously won our CSUF Business Plan Competition in 2013. Since then he has gone on to becoming a member of the FastStart.studio business incubator and is currently shopping his business to investors. John’s presentation on Saturday was good enough to net him second place in the competition.
The first round consisted of presentations following the same structure as John’s above. Each participant was given sixty seconds with which to convince the judges on our panel and the crowd that their idea was the best. At the end of that sixty seconds a buzzer would sound and that was that. In total, more than 50 people presented their business ideas during the first round with nearly equal numbers presenting in the university and high school tracks.
Our judges (Dan Black, Saimah Chaudhry, Jerry Cheng, Mathew Gallizzi and Vas Arora) ended up selecting two finalists for both the university and high school tracks while the audience was able to select one finalist for each track using a voting system developed by Entrepreneur Elympics. Once the voting was completed, we moved on to the finals where each finalist was subjected to a tough round of questioning from our moderator, William Cosmo, and our panel of judges while they sat on the “Hot Seat.”
After the finals were completed the judges went through some really tough negotiations to finally decide who the winners were. And they were:
HIgh School Track
- Hannah Keith, Kavita Galal: Build-A-Bra
- Emma Skinner, Andrea Garcia: Long Beach Eco-Scholars
- Lucy Lu: Solar Panel Roof Tiles
- Geneva Acholonu: Brush Tech
- John Chi: Synova Life Sciences
- Ethan Chow: Vaster
For the high school winners first place won $350, second place took home $250 and $150 to third place. For the university track the first place winner got $1,000, second place $750 and $500 to third.
During the competition we were lucky enough to have both Freeman LeFleur and Matthew Gallizzi give short talks about what entrepreneurship means to them and how the contestants can realize their entrepreneurial dreams. Fortunately, we do have video of Freeman’s presentation, which is below.
- The Black Family Trust
- The Guchereau Company
- Wells Fargo Financial Literacy Lab with the Center for Economic Education
Nor could we had done it without our judges:
- Dan Black, Entrepreneur & Philanthropist
Saimah Chaudry, President of CookiePages and CSUF Alum
Jerry Cheng, Principal at One Tri
Matthew Gallizzi, Leader of Notix Tech and CSUF alum
Vas Arora, Mentor at SCORE
Norm Bour, Founder of VapeMentorS (backup judge)