On Saturday April 28th Chapman University hosted the 1st annual California Dreamin’ Business Plan Competition. Students from 17 universities participated for prize money totaling $100,000. The competing schools included Chapman, UCLA, CalTech, USC, UC Irvine, Claremont McKenna, Loyola Marymount University, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, U of Utah, U of Houston, U of Hawaii, Oklahoma State University, Brigham Young University, University of Arizona, Baylor University, and University of Oklahoma. This was an impressive group to say the least.
After placing 2nd in the CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship business plan competition, my company, Astral Infiniti and our solar powered unmanned airplane, was chosen to represent Fullerton in the competition. I had approximately a week to prepare full pro-forma financial statements, rework my presentation, and prepare my speech for the regional competition. Looking back that wasn’t a lot of time, but the idea of winning the 1st place prize of $50,000 was a powerful motivator.
On Friday April 27th, all of the participants gathered at a private residence in Newport Beach for the welcoming reception. It was an opportunity to meet many successful entrepreneurs as well as the other teams in the competition. The view overlooking the Pacific Ocean was a great setting to kick off the competition.
The next morning, my father and I arrived at Chapman around 8:30 am. The 17 schools were divided into 4 pools. There would be a winner coming out of each pool, plus a wild card. So there would be 5 finalists in all. My pool consisted of Cal Tech, Berkley, Chapman, and Oklahoma. After seeing my grouping I figured, if I’m going to win this thing I’m going to have to earn it. I was slated to present at 10:30 am, the 3rd school of 5.
After going through one last rehearsal and making some last minute adjustments to the presentation, we were called in to present. I delivered the presentation we put together, answered the judges’ questions, and felt good leaving the room. I knew I was up against some formidable competition so I really had no idea whether or not it would be good enough to advance. The good news was that we only had to wait 2½ hours to find out.
At 1:30 pm after all the teams had presented and we had all eaten lunch, the finalists were finally announced. Berkeley advanced from my pool. I’d like to say I was disappointed not hear my name called, but I wasn’t. I felt like I executed the plan we put together and if I wasn’t chosen then there wasn’t anything more I could have done. My new friends from the University of Utah did advance and I hope they won. We didn’t stick around to find out, though. We were exhausted.
It was a really fun time and an incredible learning experience. I met some really great people and got to work on this project with three men that I have a great deal of respect for: Fullerton faculty members John Bradley Jackson & Randy Hoffman, and of course my father Kent Decker who designed the plane. Thank you to all that helped me with this project. At the end of the day, the best thing about entrepreneurship is that you can never lose, you can only be temporarily delayed……………
Astral Infiniti, LLC
CSUF MBA Candidate 2012