Innovation Challenge Holds First Kickoff Meeting

Innovation Challenge pictureAt the first kickoff meeting for the CSULB Innovation Challenge, an entrepreneurship contest supported by the colleges of the Arts, Business Administration, and Engineering, last year’s winners were more than happy to share tips with this year’s potential contestants.

The Boxing Movement team, made up of business majors Eric Lara and Anthony Gonzalez, and mechanical engineering major Gina Glionta, won the top prize of $10,000 in seed funding and $40,000 in services during the 2015-16 Innovation Challenge for a mobile boxing gym that could be trucked to recreation centers and other facilities to help seniors have fun and maintain strength.

Lara stressed the importance of creating a team with a variety of strengths and interests to make sure all the bases are covered. “The judges liked that we are all different majors,” he said, adding that contestants should “try to get a lot of people who are good at sharing ideas and good at talking.”

Dean of the CSULB College of the Arts, Cyrus Parker-Jeannette, said bringing together entrepreneurs from different majors is one of the main points of the contests. “We live in an interdisciplinary world and we benefit from interdisciplinary cooperation and that’s why I love the Innovation Challenge.”

Lara and Gonzalez said working on the business plan takes as much time as a part-time job. Teams are assigned a mentor to help them through the process, and workshops are held on various aspects of starting a business, such as protecting intellectual property.

Last year, 28 teams submitted business plans and 18 teams went through the entire process.

“You’ll learn how to create business plans. It’s a pretty amazing opportunity for starting a business,” said Parker-Jeanette. “Another part of the training is learning to pitch.”

Now in its seventh year, the Innovation Challenge is open to all students. Four finalists present their proposals to judges, and one team is selected in April to receive $10,000 in cash and $40,000 in services to help launch their business.

The next information session will be held on Thursday, Sept. 15 from 12-1 p.m. in ECS-312. Anyone interested in entrepreneurship is invited them to attend.

Over the years, the contest has supported many businesses, from a 3D bone printer and a tool to help diagnose pulmonary diseases to a student textbook exchange and a mobile boxing ring for seniors. For more information, visit