If the enthusiastic crowd at the Innovation Challenge’s second information meeting is any indication, a lot of Cal State University Long Beach students have startup dreams.
The annual entrepreneurial Challenge, where student teams compete to win $50,000 in funding and services for the best business idea, was started six years ago by the colleges of Engineering, Business, and the Arts. Students at Thursday’s meeting appeared equally divided between the three colleges.
“We’re very glad the interest level has gone up this year,” said College of Engineering Dean Forouzan Golshani. “Many of us dream of having our own business. This competition enables you to do that.”
Design major Chloe Harhe has no shortage of ideas for starting her own clothing line. What’s in shorter supply, however, is time. “I’d like to take an idea and run with it,” she said. “But I want to make sure I have the time to do it.”
Electrical engineering graduate students Vishnu Thottikat and Tanmay Chandwasker are in the process of establishing a team, but they haven’t yet settled on an idea. What they do agree on, however, is that they’d like to start their own company.
The winning team comes away with $10,000 in seed funding for their company, as well as legal, marketing, financial, and other professional services worth an estimated $40,000. But even those who don’t win still gain the kind of valuable experience not available in the classroom.
The teams perfect their business ideas after working with experienced mentors. And as part of the process, the team must produce a business plan. “We treat competitors just as we would in the real world,” said Golshani, adding that “This will look very good on your CV, whether you win or not.”
Since engineers, business experts, and designers are all needed to move an idea through the planning process, multidisciplinary teams are encouraged. The only requirement is that one member of each team be a CSULB student.
Faculty organizers of the challenge are Christianne Beyer, mechanical engineering; Larry Pate, business; and Wesley Woefel, design.
The next meeting will be held from 6-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 14 in ECS-105. For more information about the contest, visit http://web.csulb.edu/innovationchallenge/.