The sixth Titan Fast Pitch has come and gone and it was a great success! We had an estimated 400 people in attendance with more than 150 students competing. This year, we had students from multiple universities including Cal State Fullerton, CSULA, Chapman, UCLA, Cal Poly Pomona, and probably a couple of others that I missed.
We also had many high school students competing including Troy High School, Western, and many others. For the first time, middle school students competed as well.
There were two tracks, one for university students and another for high school and middle school students. The competition started off with an introduction from the hosts of the competition. John Bradley Jackson, the Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and the CSUF Startup Incubator, kicked off the competition with a welcome message. He was followed by Dr. Radha Bhattacharya, the Director for the Center for Economic Education, and Will Taormina, the founder of the National Startup League and an alumnus of CSUF Entrepreneurship.
The first round, which we called the Bullpen Round, had all of the students competing. Remember, there were more than 150 students competing so the Pavilions at the Titan Student Union were packed with students pitching their creative ideas! To hear these pitches we assembled about 50 judges, made up of entrepreneurs and professionals from our communities, including the active and generous CSUF Entrepreneurship community.
After fifty minutes the Bullpen Round came to a close. The energy in the room was electric! The students were still bubbling with excitement while we tabulated the judges’ decisions in another room. While the tabulations were going on, a few lucky attendees won some opportunity drawing prizes! These included Amazon gift cards donated by Dr. Atul Teckchandani and CSUF Entrepreneurship Ambassador and Titan Fast Pitch Finals Judge France Dixon Helfer. Some lucky people also won books to advance their entrepreneurial education.
Once the tabulations were complete, we announced the four finalists for the high school and middle school track (more on them later!).
Now that the finalists were announced, Director Jackson kicked off the Lightning Round. During this round, the finalists presented their ideas in sixty seconds to our Lightning Round judges and then they were each asked up to three minutes worth of questions from our judges. The questions were tough but they helped the competitors more fully explain their ideas and got them thinking about their concepts in new ways.
Our Lightning Round judges included:
- Karl Freels, Dan Black Family Trust
- Vijay Raman, Vasur Ventures
- David Morris, Royal Business Bank
- My-Ngoc Allred, Wells Fargo
- Michale Sawitz, FastStart.studio
- France Dixon Helfer, TinyKicks
The Lightning Round is a crucible for these competitors. You will remember that the audience numbered more than 400 so the finalists were not only presenting in front of our august judges but also hundreds of people they have never met before. And they had to answer those tough questions from our judges! Thankfully, the finalists were up for the challenge and they comported themselves extremely well.
Once the Lightning Round finished, the judges retired to another room to deliberate while everyone else had some fun! There was a lot of networking, getting to hear other’s innovative concepts, and we even had the Cal State Fullerton improv club perform. One lucky attendee also won a pair of Laker’s tickets donated by CSUF Entrepreneurship alumnus Sue Mehta! I’m sure they will enjoy those seats.
After a few minutes, the Lightning Round judges made their weighty decisions. For the university and high school/middle school track finalists there were scholarships on the line. The finalists for the university track stood to win:
- 1st Place: $1,500
- 2nd Place: $1,000
- 3rd Place: $500
- 4th Place: $250
And the finalists in the high school/middle school track stood to win:
- 1st Place: $400
- 2nd Place: $300
- 3rd Place: $200
- 4th Place: $100
And, the moment you have been waiting for, the winners were:
- 1st Place: Sierra Levanto, Chapman University
- 2nd Place: Parastoo Delgoshaei, University of Maryland
- 3rd Place: Lauren Horgan, Cal Poly Pomona
- 4th Place: Daniel Cazares, Cal State Fullerton
High School/Middle School Track:
- 1st Place: Hayley Amo
- 2nd Place: Savannah Gutierrez
- 3rd Place: Stephen Nguyen and Lyle Lalunio
- 4th Place: Angel Perez
Congratulations to all those who competed, they may have just taken their first steps into becoming entrepreneurs at the Titan Fast Pitch! I can’t wait to see what is in store for this competition in the future!
If you aren’t already, make sure that you have signed up to be a CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider to keep up to date on all that we are doing. Our next big event is on November 15 when we will be hosting an Open House for our second CSUF Startup Incubator location. This one will be on the CSUF Irvine campus and we couldn’t be more excited about it! We hope to see you there!
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