CSUF hosts fast pitch event for entrepreneurs

FastPitchGates

Robert Gates pitches his ideas for a new car radio system at the Fast Pitch Competition in the Titan Student Union. (Amanda Sharp / Daily Titan)

This story was updated on Feb. 11 to accurately reflect the name of two participants. 

With 60 seconds on the timer and a panel of judges staring them down, competitors in the Titan Fast Pitch Business Competition on Saturday didn’t have time to let nerves get in the way.

The event, hosted by Mihaylo College Center for Entrepreneurship and the Center for Economics Education, was designed to give young entrepreneurs a realistic practice scenario that could prepare them for a real-world situation hurriedly pitching an idea to an executive, in an elevator for instance.

About 13 high school students and about 18 university students went on stage to make their case and share their ideas, which ranged from a website that let women design their own bras to a mobile stem cell kiosk used by doctors to alleviate patients’ arthritis.

Pitching an idea in 60 seconds is a “learned skill,” said John Jackson, the director for the Center of Entrepreneurship at Cal State Fullerton, and is essential to being a successful entrepreneur.

“Regardless of if you work in a big company, if you’re a student, or you’re an entrepreneur, you have to be able to pitch your ideas succinctly and quickly,” Jackson said.

After the first round of pitches, the audience narrowed the contestants down to three finalists using their website to vote for who should move on to the next round.

The audience then picked their favorite pitches for each category, and the top three finalists per category advanced to the “hot seat” round.

In the second round, the finalists sat in a large red chair and answered questions from the judges about their mission statement, core values of their business idea and their passion behind the idea.

The winner for the high school category was the “Build-a-Bra” website. Hannah Keith and Kavita Galal designed a website where women could create their own unique bra in the comfort of their own home. Customers could choose the bra strap, the color, the size and the cup.

Another female entrepreneur won at the university level with a mechanical device designed to clean five makeup brushes at a time. The idea came to her as a solution to constantly having to use new brushes to apply makeup while she was working as a makeup artist.

A $1,000 scholarship was awarded for the top idea from university students, and a $350 scholarship was given to the winning high school student. Smaller scholarships were awarded to the second and third place winners.

The runner-up in the university category was John Chi, 43, a biotechnology major. He pitched the idea of a mobile stem cell kiosk and was going to use his scholarship to further develop his idea.

“I’m almost done with school so it’s going to go into the idea,” Chi said.

Dan Black, a CSUF graduate and Dan Black Hall’s namesake, served on a panel of judges alongside Jerry Cheng, Matthew Gallizzi and Saimah Chaudry.

Black said he had confidence in all of the students that competed.

“This will be an experience to say ‘hey, I need to do better the next time I get a chance to do this,’ and all of them will succeed,” Black said.

The Center for Entrepreneurship will next host a business plan competition where students will create a detailed business concept. 

About Gina Van Stratten

Gina Van Stratten is a staff writer from the Spring 2014 COMM 471 class.