Judges announce business finalists
Biola Startup Competition teams look forward to the remainder of the competition. | Photo Courtesy of Robert Harp
After working all semester on their concept papers, the final six teams were announced for the Biola Startup Competition on Dec. 2.
Six teams were chosen from a pool of 12 teams to advance, though the competition originally began with 35 teams in October. The advancing teams include Columbus International, Illuminate, MissionLink, Raptor House Effects LLC, Shower Caddy and Wevene.com. As finalists, the teams will each have a coach to give them advice on their business plan.
“There’s honestly no way to lose from this point forward because even if you don’t get the prize money or whatever, you still end up with a business plan, you’re still going to get exposure to venture capitalists perhaps and then you’re also going to be paired with a coach who’s [an] industry professional,” said Austen Dutton, team leader of Wevene.com and assistant manager of auxiliary operations. “You’re just going to be exposed to this wealth of help and resources and information, stuff that’s going to take me from a very novice entrepreneur to just having so much more knowledge.”
In focusing on the experience and collecting information for their companies, the finalists continue to look forward to their businesses as a whole and not just the competition. Jesse Velez, alum and team leader of Raptor House Effects LLC, has enjoyed the workshops and looks forward to future workshops, which cover topics such as how to make a pitch.
“The biggest thing that we were initially excited for was just that we get to keep learning stuff because the workshops are really helpful and we get to do the whole business plan,” Velez said.
Many of the finalists remain excited for the building and presentation of their business plan. Melissa Sugeng, team leader of Shower Caddy and sophomore philosophy major, hopes to see her team’s product help aid young women.
“I’m really looking forward to see where it goes, as we build our missions plan we keep developing new ideas and right now we’re going to the direction of how to make a blessing out of our business and I really like how it’s going right now,” Sugeng said.
Several of the teams, including Columbus International, Illuminate and MissionLink, seek to aid certain groups of people. These groups include connecting Chinese students studying in America with online resources and Kenyan children with education, as well as connecting missionaries and churches beyond giving money to missionaries.
Jordan Perkins, team leader of Illuminate and senior business major, sees the business not only helping children in Kenya, but also as a new perspective for children in the United States.
“We really want to not only give the opportunity for these Kenyan kids to get a better education, but allow parents in the states to have conversations with their kids about global issues and begin to open their eyes to what’s going on around the world,” Perkins said.
The teams will continue to develop their business plans until March, after which the three winning teams will receive prize money and legal counsel from Brown & Streza, LLP.