Step 1 to Startup Success: Build a Winning Team

icmeetupThe Innovation Challenge is intended to give students real-world experience in starting a business. And just like in the real world, assembling a diverse team can be a barrier to entry.

Contest rules recommend teams with 3-7 members, since business ideas have a stronger chance of success if teams include people with finance, marketing, design, and technical skills.

“You can’t run a business by yourself,” said Barbara Barcon, an Innovation Challenge organizer and retired vice president and CFO with Pacific Gas and Electric. “You may like your idea, but will others like it? You’ll also need some market research.”

On Monday, the Innovation Challenge held its first matchmaking event. Attendees were handed out tags at the door so they could be identified as teams looking for team members or people interested in joining a team.

Just as is often the case in the real world, potential team members at Monday’s event were scarce. Eleven teams were battling over just a handful of potential green-tagged team members. Industrial Design major Tim Cormack offered up his art and design skills while an electrical engineering graduate volunteered his skill in audio and video production and software development.

“The people with green tags on—you’re going to be really popular,” said Barcon.

The 11 teams who pitched their ideas Monday were working on an inexpensive hearing aid, an action camera, a faith-based clothing line, an energy-pricing platform, an emotion-based movie website, and apps for Long Beach public transportation and diabetes management. Some of the teams were sole proprietors, but others had several team members and were trying to round out the team. One skill area that seemed in high demand was application development.

The CSULB Innovation Challenge—sponsored by the colleges of Art, Business Administration, and Engineering—is an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students from across the university to make a difference in our local and global communities through innovation and entrepreneurship. In addition to $10,000 in seed funding, the winning business will be provided office space, marketing, legal and accounting services totaling up to $40,000 of value to help start the new business.

The competition is open to all teams that have a current CSULB student(s) in a leading role. Students should look for entrepreneurial, innovative, and business-minded team members. Teams are encouraged to have members with diverse business skill sets in order to compile a winning combination.

Teams must deliver a compliant business plan by February 26, 2016 to be considered for participation. Students are allowed to gain assistance from business professionals outside of campus. Mentors will be assigned to each team, consisting of CSULB faculty and/or external business professionals.

The next matchmaking event will be held in the College of Business Administration. To stay up to date on Innovation Challenge news, like the Facebook page.