Cal State Long Beach Entrepreneurs Spotlight on Cash Concepts – Press Enterprise

Four teams of Cal State Long Beach students participating in the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship recently met head-to-head at the campus level of the Sunstone Innovation Challenge pitch competition.

All four teams took home money to invest in their business concepts and they will compete at the Five plus One Sunstone CSU Startup Launch on May 6 against teams from Cal State Northridge, Cal State Dominguez Hills, Cal State Los Angeles, Cal Poly Pomona and attend Cal State Fullerton.

Last week’s winner was Ryon Adams, sole owner of Proto-Lin Violins. Adams, who has played the violin for 10 years, found a way to mass-produce beginner’s violins at a price that would make it affordable for low-income students — and schools — to start making music.

He took home $15,000 on Thursday, April 14 to further develop his injection molded polymer violin bodies. And there will be more investment money at stake in the CSU-wide finals.

Cal State Long Beach economics professor and director of the university’s IIE, Wade Martin, introduced the four finalists on Thursday afternoon. They had survived two preliminary rounds that started with 22 teams.

All teams were composed of undergraduate or graduate students from Cal State Long Beach, and they all had help from a mentor who was either part of the CSULB faculty or from the Long Beach business community. The other finalists were:

  • The NIL Collective, a sports marketing agency and app helping mid-level and Division II athletes benefit from new Name, Image and Likeness legislation.
  • Pavanas, developer of a polymer tape treatment to limit maintenance and extend the life of wind turbine blades – and ultimately airplane wings.
  • Unstockable, an app paired with education to help young adults understand investing and gain financial literacy.

Each team had eight minutes to present their ideas and business models to a panel of three – Joe Platnick, Alan Pullman and Vivian Shimoyama – before questions were answered. The judges then spent 45 minutes determining the final placement.

The NIL Collective was crowned the first runner-up and took home $10,000. Pavanas and Unstockable received an honorable mention and received $5,000 each.

“This is just the first step,” said John Keisler, President and CEO of Sunstone Management, following the presentations. “This leads to the CSU Five plus One Challenge (formally known as the Sunstone CSU Startup Launch Competition).

“And there’s more,” Keisler added. “Once they graduate, they can also apply to be part of the Accelerator.”

The Long Beach Accelerator, a partnership between the CSULB Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Sunstone Management, provides in-depth training and access to investors for startup companies and entrepreneurs. Three cohorts of prospective business owners have already completed accelerator training.

“I started this as a high school project,” Adams, a civil engineering student, said of his violin. “It was only with the encouragement of my professor that I even started here. Now I can see it as something that can move forward and make a difference.”

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