“The event was loud, exciting, and chaotic,” Center for Entrepreneurship Director John Bradley Jackson described the Titan Fast Pitch. “Hundreds of participants flooded the football field-sized at the Titan Student Union hoping to make their mark. For the students who presented their pitches were all about doing and learning. With sixty seconds to tell your story one-on-one to a judge, your goal was to sell your idea and to be remembered. And that they were!”
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.
Rossina Gallegos, Director & CSR Officer – Corporate Responsibility at Titan Fast Pitch Platinum Sponsor Union Bank said of the event: “At Union Bank we are proud to invest our financial and human resources in support of California State University Fullerton and the Titan Fast Pitch 2019 Competition event. We were impressed with the caliber of presenters that came up with innovative business ideas with great potential for new markets to be developed. Economic Development is at the fore front of our MUFG Union Bank Foundation giving, since we find that entrepreneurship has the ability to improve standards of living and create wealth not only for the entrepreneurs, but also for the larger economy.”
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. “The Titan Fast Pitch has most certainly made its way to the fall curriculum of high school and middle school students,” Radha said. “Students and teachers look forward to the excitement and energy packed into the event.”
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
- Nui Foods
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.Credit Executive, Vice President & National Co-Chair for Women’s ERG (WIN) at MUFG Union Bank, N.A.
Natalia Razeghi is a commercial loan underwriter with 18 years of experience including Citigroup, being a co-founder of a start-up lending company, 11 years at MUFG Union Bank, N.A. and counting. She is currently a Credit Executive, Vice President, underwriting law firms, medical groups and other professional segment borrowers of Wealth, Private Bank, and Business Banking. Natalia came to this country as a foreign student from Russia at CSUF.
Upon completion of her Bachelor degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance, she joined Citigroup’s paid internship which lead to a full time career in banking. The internship was sourced via a fully-employed banking executive who was teaching evening classes at CSUF. You can say Natalia owes much of her success to the foundation and professional contacts that CSUF provided her early on.
Mark Manguera – Founder of Kogi BBQ and Snow Monkey
Mark Manguera is a proud graduate of Cal State Fullerton and a serial entrepreneur. Mark cofounded the universally acclaimed Kogi BBQ among many restaurant and pop up ventures in California and Las Vegas. He’s also a culinary real estate developer with 200 acres of development throughout CA located in prime urban areas of our lovely State. He’s a life long student constantly learning, asking questions, and sharing his experiences with others.
Paul Wasserman – Founder, Ebates.com
Born in New York in 1964, Paul’s family relocated to Tustin, California in 1975. In the late 1970’s, Paul gained access to an original Apple ][ computer which started a love affair with technology that continues to this day. In 1980, his family moved to Fullerton where he graduated Sunny Hills High School in 1982. Paul attended California State University, Fullerton where he met his future wife Sutten and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. In 1987, Paul attended law school at Santa Clara University where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and joined the San Francisco mega firm of Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe in the Fall of 1990.
Paul began his legal career in the litigation department, but quickly determined that practicing civil law was as interesting as watching paint dry. In 1992, following his passion to be a trial attorney, Paul left corporate law and joined the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney prosecuting a broad range of crime. In 1996, while a foot soldier in the Domestic Violence Unit, Paul created the county’s first High Technology Crime Unit and successfully prosecuted the first-of-its-kind case of computer fraud, extortion and computer network intrusion in a nationally reported case.
In 1999, Paul, along with another D.D.A., left the District Attorney’s Office and founded the Internet shopping rebate website, Ebates.com. Paul was CEO at Ebates until 2002 when he and Sutten decided to move their two young children back to be near family in Southern California. Paul remained on the Ebates Board of Directors until 2014 when Ebates, on the eve of a public offering, was purchased by Rakuten, Inc. for $1bil cash. Paul now spends his time flying airplanes, refereeing competitive youth soccer, and greatly enjoying even more time with his family.
Karl Freels – Dan Black Family Trust
Karl is a passionate advocate for entrepreneurship and STEM education. As a member of the Dan Black Family Trust, he has helped direct activities towards enriching the lives of students at Cal State Fullerton and beyond. Karl is excited to be a Lightning Round judge at the Titan Fast Pitch competition this year.
Victor Macias – Founder – Nui Foods
Victor Macias is the co-founder of Nui Foods, a snack company on a mission to create junk foods that are great for you. Nui has skyrocketed to success appearing on the Joe Rogan Podcast and ABC’s Shark Tank. Victor has also been featured on Inc.com, Forbes, Business Insider and more.
Before building Nui, Victor co-founded a men’s lifestyle company and collaborated with world-class brands like Gillette, GMC, Heineken, Toyota and more. He has experience with online marketing, strategy and influencer partnerships.
Victor is a huge pro wrestling fan and dreams of one day traveling the world watching amazing matches. He’s a digital nomad who loves working remotely from various corners of the world.
Cathleen Greiner – Regional Director Employer Engagement, Business and Entrepreneurship, Orange County, California Community Colleges
Dr. Greiner has a proven career in higher education, as a teacher and administrator, with expertise and responsibility in leadership, networking with community partners to respond to changing learning needs and building enduring bridges between business and education. Cathleen is a highly effective executive professional with a demonstrated commitment to bridging education and business in service and support to students, faculty, and business colleagues with relevant actions and innovative outcomes. As a strategic, long-range planner and small business owner with an entrepreneurial spirit, she is a sought-after expert on organizational growth, the gig economy, the new world of work, the impact of AI, automation and technology, and on the need to prepare students and individuals for academic and workplace success.
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:
- Zarina Bahadur, UC Irvine
- Bryan Ruef, Cal State Fullerton
- Maryam Edah-Tal, Cal State Fullerton
- Jeffrey Mak and Aryan Gharada, UC Irvine
Titan Fast Pitch second place finisher at the university level had this to say about his experience:
The Titan Fast Pitch competition was a great experience for me to practice my pitch skills. Prior to this, I really didn’t have an elevator pitch for my company. I always just assumed it was too complicated a company to be summed up in 60 seconds. While I still think this is probably true, the pitch I created for this competition ended up doing a pretty good job of explaining what I’m doing with 10-8. Titan Fast Pitch forced me to learn how to create an elevator pitch that captures the interest business professionals of all backgrounds, from tech to finance. Going forward, I’ll be using my pitch I used for this competition when trying to quickly explain my company to new people. The lightning round helped me practice thinking on my feet to answer questions from experienced business professionals.
Not only was the competition a great way to practice and perform my pitching skills, but it was also a great networking opportunity! I met and created relationships with multiple judges that I will soon be meeting up with again outside of the competition to get more advice and guidance from their many years of success in the business world. The judges were all super nice and ready to offer assistance in any way they could.Bryan Ruef, second place finisher at the university level of the Titan Fast Pitch
- Minhaj Gumma
- Thi Le
- Emir Dira
- Natalie Najera
- Mariela Cruz
- Zhi Jing
- Jubilee Gutierrez
- Edward Garcia and Rachel Ortega
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, KDI Partners – Ken Guchereau, California Community Colleges, Nui Foods, and the Vas Arora Family Foundation.
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, 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!
We are dedicated to helping the next generation of entrepreneurs develop the skills that they need to compete locally and globally. The CSUF Entrepreneurship program does many things,