Ten teams of aspiring entrepreneurs pitched their product ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win prizes and donor-funded seed money worth $10,000 at the fifth annual Bronco Startup Challenge.
Hosted by Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Business Administration, the Student Innovation Idea Lab (iLab) and student clubs Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization and Poly Founders, the Bronco Startup Challenge spanned three months and culminated with the May 12 closing ceremony where more than 200 spectators filled Ursa Major to hear pitches from the startups.
Participants were given two minutes to convince judges not only that there was a product demand, but the concept was also profitable and sustainable. At exactly 120 seconds, the mics were cut.
Competitors were speaking directly to a panel of successful entrepreneurs like MilliSense founder Everette Taylor and Pappas Artisanal CEO Matt Fong and judges would ask questions following the pitches.
A large portion of the prize money is furnished by alumnus, adjunct professor and Dean’s Advisory Council member Pawan Tomkoria, and that’s one of the main motivators. But win or lose, most of the competitors stayed long after the winner was announced to gain one-on-one insight from panel members such as UCI BlackStone LaunchPad finalist Esosa Agbonwaneten.
There is a Facebook album with complete photos and here are the winners along with a brief description of each finalist:
Winner: Sound Catcher – Jesse Smith, Theresa Bastian, Moritz Beauther, Omar Lopez
Future rock stars refining their craft in tight, messy confines can take the first step in organizing their music and lives with Sound Catcher, a small attachment that goes at the base of a guitar to clean up wires. The clutter-reducer is not only economical to produce, but the expected price point is low enough to make it attractive to most entry-level guitarists or people first taking up the hobby.
Second Place: 7th Planet Cases – Alexa Robinson, Charena Hengsathorn, Donnie Thompson, Ernesto Pardo, Jennifer Nunez, Michael Garcia, Michael Zampiglia, Ryan McKee, Annie Chuong
One minute it’s protecting a valuable laptop, and the next it’s preserving other important assets. Meet 7th Planet Cases, a durable laptop case that converts into a comfortable seat cushion when the computer is in use. Style is not left by the wayside with 7th Planet embroidering its cases with a unique logo – for the Bronco Startup Challenge it was the university’s mascot. The team also received the Wen Chang Award for Most Scalable.
Third Place: B2C – Terrell Bolden, Armando Cordero
Compact transportation is taken to new levels with B2C, a foldable electric-powered scooter with a footprint small enough to fit in a backpack when it’s collapsed. B2C uses miniature drone motors to move the two-wheeled contraption crafted from aerospace-grade aluminum at cruising speeds well above 5 mph. The team’s business plan says the scooters can be produced for less than $300, meaning the retail price would likely make it an affordable transportation option to many commuters.
Wen Chang Award for Most Scalable: 7th Planet Cases – Alexa Robinson, Charena Hengsathorn, Donnie Thompson, Ernesto Pardo, Jennifer Nunez, Michael Garcia, Michael Zampiglia, Ryan McKee, Annie Chuong
Crowd Favorite: Lono Drop
Recent droughts have brought attention to a global water crisis that has been brewing for decades. Lono Drop addresses one of water-wasting’s main culprits—excessively long showers—by lighting up in different colors based on shower length. Each color change indicates the next step in showering until it eventually lights up red, signaling it is time to turn the water off.
Fayble – Fayble is looking to revolutionize online furniture shopping with customizable pieces that can be shipped to doorsteps at never-before-seen prices.
Customers can design items based off personal needs and taste using tools on Fayble’s website, creating a convenient shopping experience unmatched by traditional brick-and-mortar stores.
The Dream Factory – Art connoisseurs looking to connect with and commission upcoming artists for pieces can log on to The Dream Factory to find a potential match. The online marketplace allows buyers to describe anything they can imagine along with the price he or she is willing to pay. Artists can then choose the most inspirational projects and create a partnership.
SwitchZ – Social media and premier parking spots come together with SwitchZ, an application that pairs people leaving a location with those arriving so the two can trade parking spots. Designated pickup areas bring in the social aspect as users can receive a ride to his or her car from the person taking over the spot.
TakeNote Global – Making annotations in a text book helps some college students study, but it also hurts the resale value when it comes time to sell the books back. TakeNote tackles the issue with page inserts that allow students to jot down notes without permanent damage to the paper.
JPInno Tech – Restaurant customers waiting for a table will be able to browse a menu, order food beforehand and be notified when it’s time to be seated all from the same device if JPInno Tech has its way. The team pitched the all-in-one customer service machine that has the potential to provide restaurant owners with additional sources of income through placed advertisements on the device.
Goal Striver – Smart watch owners know how motivating it can be to beat the previous day’s step count. If it works in fitness, Goal Striver expects to have the same result in personal achievement as the app tracks current goals while pushing the user to set more goals to accomplish as each is checked off.