Ash Sobhe ’10 (Information Systems), one of four judges for California State University, Northridge’s Fast Pitch “elevator pitch” competition on Nov. 15, had a bittersweet time judging the event.
“Part of me was really excited seeing the ideas these young entrepreneurs had, and the other part of me was jealous I wasn’t one of them out there,” Sobhe said.
Sobhe, along with Tracy Gray, Alan Campos ’16 (Business Law) and Russell Weissman ’06 (Cinema and Television Arts) had a tough time naming the winner of the second annual Fast Pitch event, a competition where 10 teams of CSUN students had three minutes and three PowerPoint slides to pitch their new venture idea.
In the end, the panel awarded the $2,000 grand prize to WebApes, a trio made up of CSUN students Edgar Limon (Marketing), Arvin Flores (Marketing) and Jasmine Beeman (Communications). The group pitched a smart script internet code they are developing to help the visually impaired better navigate through websites.
According to the group, most websites are set up in a way where people with visual impairments are unable to read the text on websites. Their goal for entering the Fast Pitch competition was to see the kind of response the idea would elicit from the crowd, Flores said.
“We wanted to enter Fast Pitch so we could validate our idea and see whether or not it had any merit at all,” Flores said. “If it was bad, I would have probably wanted to kill it right there. But between the judges, the crowd and the fact we won first place, I think we definitely have a good idea.”
After the competition ended someone gave him a business card and said they were interested in using the script for their website, Limon said.
More than 120 people filled up the Ferman Presentation Room inside the Oviatt Library, according to Entrepreneurship Program Director Ryan Holbrook.
“The turnout for this event was great,” Holbrook said. “It’s a testament to the growing interest in entrepreneurship among our students and surrounding communities.”
Coming in second place and winning $1,000 was Steven Van Alen (Management), for his Sleepy Head foam mattress and topper startup.
The $500 third-place winner was Luis Turcios (Economics), Carrie Huang (Marketing), Denise De Sequera (Management) and Luke Rimando (Financial Planning) for their Fit Us mobile workout app.
“Everyone has a different path, and everyone values success at different levels,” Weissman said. “Events like these are important because it shows people can create their own company, believe in a product or idea and have the tools together to execute it properly.”
For more information, visit the Fast Pitch website.