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IVC Team Takes First Place in National Business Plan Pitch Competition

Monday, November 16, 2020

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Last August, the Irvine Valley College (IVC) entrepreneurship department partnered with the College Leap organization, a national non-profit founded by UC Berkeley students to increase the leadership opportunities for transferring community college students. A national business plan pitch competition was held.

Ten IVC student teams from different disciplines of study entered the competition, and seven teams pitched in the first round hosted by Irvine Valley College. After more than a month of preparation with guidance and mentorship from Professor John Russo, the lead of the entrepreneurship program at IVC, the first round produced some excellent business concepts with great student pitch decks and presentations. The first round was judged by serial entrepreneur and IVC Professor Michael Sawitz, along with IVC entrepreneurship alumni Maryam Edah Tally, and a UC Berkeley alumnus. The teams included a migraine detection and relief app created by Sara Sharifzadeh, an innovative emergency backpack developed by Yuki Kitamura, a pantry food ingredient recipe and cooking app by Rachel Nellis, Ester Kim, and Rachel Kim,The Good Apple Initiative, a farmer's market food collection and distribution company by Sunmeet Singh, Fable Stable, a storytelling app to bring generations closer together by Raghavi Mavuduri. HelioPods, a gel pod sunscreen packaging by Kimberly Rayner and Apoorva Gunti, and GiveMind, a mental health app by Jay Trang and Yasaman Nassab.

After the first round and top winner went to HelioPods. Three IVC teams were invited to pitch in the regional round against other community colleges in Southern California. In the regional round, again top honors went to HelioPods to move on and compete in the final round.  

On Nov. 7, the final round of the College Leap national business plan pitch competition was held.  The competition started with 80 teams from all over the state of California and Washington. In the final, the IVC team HelioPods, of Kimberly Rayner (business major), and Apoorva Gunti (bioengineering major), pitched against seven other teams. The competition featured model presentations and prominent judges from the Haas Berkeley School of Business, California Community College State director, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists. The IVC team presented their sunscreen pods idea and took 1st place in the competition. 

Rayner and Gunti look forward to taking their idea to the next level and ultimately bringing it to the marketplace.  

Category: Education News

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