First off, we want to thank all of the students, mentors, judges, and donors who participated in the CSUF Startup Competition this year; we could not have done this without all of your efforts!
As has always been the case, having the opportunity to host a competition like the CSUF Startup Competition and see the dramatic improvements that the students make over the course of a mere few weeks is amazing. The mission of this competition is to challenge students to come up with innovative concepts that can improve humanity and I think that the crop of competitors this year ably acquitted themselves with aplomb.
Before going into who won the competition, I need to thank the donors whose support made all of this possible. Dan Black and Karl Freels of the Black Family Trust have been longtime supporters of our Center’s mission and their support has enabled us to grow our community in powerful ways. Royal Business Bank, represented by David Morris, is another longtime supporter of our Center and our activities. These contributors have been extremely generous patrons of ours and we are eternally grateful for their support.
We would also like to thank our judges for the finals. Karl Freels, David Morris, Mima Ransom, Per Welinder, Andrew Bermudez, and Dr. Deb Ferber. They all asked tough questions of our finalists and drew out insightful answers from our students.
Without further ado, here are the winners from this year’s CSUF Startup Competition:
6th Place: Justin Lotz and Micah Herman
Their concept for a cryptocurrency fund intrigued our judges and their presentation impressed.
Justin Lotz and Micah Herman, Sixth Place in CSUF Startup Competition
5th Place: Vanessa Ganaden and Rachel Herzog
This team took a risk by pivoting their concept to a children’s book subscription model before the finals but their passion for finding solutions definitely came through.
Rachel Herzog and Vanessa Ganaden, Fifth Place in CSUF Startup Competition
4th Place: Vanessa Wiebach
Autism is a condition that afflicts far too many people and Vanessa’s concept that empowers people with autism through music education resonated with our judges.
Vanessa Wiebach, Fourth Place in CSUF Startup Competition
3rd Place: Arshya “Ary” Sharifian
The real estate business is very competitive and Ary’s concept for an algorithm that will more accurately value property would give investors a distinct advantage over the competition.
Arshya “Ary” Sharifian, Third Place in CSUF Startup Competition
2nd Place: Jordan Au and Simran Gaglani (and Itzayana Leal who could not attend the Finals)
The infant and parenting industries are currently booming and their concept for a portable device to keep bottles warm resonated with the judges.
Jordan Au and Simran Gaglani, Second Place in CSUF Startup Competition
1st Place: Alan Cerna and Branden Wells
This year’s winner of the CSUF Startup Competition was Alan Cerna’s and Branden Wells’ Apprentice Builds. Apprentice Builds’ mission is to get at-risk youth off the streets and into the shop to work on hot rods and learn skills that can lead into productive careers.
Alan Cerna and Branden Wells, First Place in CSUF Startup Competition
Congratulations to all of the winners! We know how much work you all put into this competition and we are here to help you launch your innovative concepts.
Here are some pictures from the competition.
Prizes for the Winners of the CSUF Startup Competition
- First Place: $2,500 Scholarship plus in-kind services
- Second Place: $1,000 Scholarship plus in-kind services
- Third Place: $750 Scholarship plus in-kind services
- Fourth Place: $500 Scholarship plus in-kind services
- Fifth Place: $250 Scholarship plus in-kind services
- Sixth Place: $150 Scholarship plus in-kind services
- Rudy Chavarria – College Web Media
- Karla Amador – Thrive Financial
- Austin Bonderer – Law Office of Austin Bonderer, PC
- Lorenzo Santos and Boomer Baker – Think 66
- Jim Cooper – Braid Theory
- Chris DeCaro – Kneadle
- Guy Knuf – Moss Adams
- Justin Sanders – Entralta, PC
Additionally, a big thanks to the people behind the scenes who made this competition happen, they include:
- Dr. Atul Teckchandani
- Professor Tom Miller
- Professor Jack Mixner
- Professor Jeff Longshaw
- Charlesetta Medina
- Phillip Stinis