May 7, 2014
Ever heard of Cookie Tostada? The Nature Supplyhouse ring a bell? How about COCO Uniforms?
If they don’t sound familiar now, some entrepreneurial students at Mt. San Jacinto College hope their business idea will one day become household names. They took their first steps toward that goal on May 5 during The Competition at MSJC’s Menifee Valley Campus. With high hopes of winning a $5,000 prize to help with start-up costs, the students presented their business plans to a panel of judges.
The MSJC Business Plan Competition is joint venture between MSJC and the SOCO Institute, the charity arm of the SoCo Group, Inc., a petroleum marketer headquartered in Carlsbad, CA. The SOCO Institute, which provided the $5,000 scholarship, supports economic growth through special projects.
The winning student or team will be announced on Monday, May 12 and will receive the award at the MSJC Foundation’s Scholarship Breakfast at 8 a.m. on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at the Soboba Country Club in San Jacinto.
Eight students participated in the first-ever event based loosely on popular TV shows like Shark Tank. The Competition has its own unique format to ensure students get the most out of this learning experience by having community business partners serve on the judging panel.
James Young, of Menifee, got help from his classmate who heaped ice cream atop a soft, warm chocolate chip cookie as he pitched his Cookie Tostada. The build-your-own dessert idea for fair-goers also includes a 10 percent donation to community churches.
“Cookie Tostada would be a treat that is very unique, cost effective, and convenient to carry around the fair,” Young wrote in his business plan.
Nancy DiPeitro presented Nature Supplyhouse. The San Jacinto resident creates a lotion called Scent of Distraction she would like to put on the market.
David T. Pese, of Perris, pitched Deeya Cuisine, a unique Thai-Indian-Polynesian fusion cuisine.
Brittney Romer, of Hemet, presented Once Upon A Time Events, a full-service event planning company that provides complete consulting services for weddings, quinceañeras, anniversaries and parties.
Mario R. Valerio Jr., San Jacinto wants to grow a company called CoCo Uniforms. It sells scrubs, men’s and women’s apparel and household items like soaps, napkins and deodorant.
Team members Hung Dang, Sydney Hunt, Anh Dang pitched SUPERSHADES, offers a manual car shade and the super automatic shade that rolls itself up with the car engine is turned off.
"This competition is designed to provide MSJC student entrepreneurs a path to develop the foundation of their new or prospective business ventures," said Dr.Caren Hennessy, co-chair of the Business Department at MSJC’s Menifee Valley Campus.
One of the major goals of The Competition at MSJC is to give students a practical and applied understanding of the pitch meeting process and how entrepreneurs and financiers interact.
During the spring semester, student participants were paired with a faculty advisor who coached them throughout the process to understand the elements of a good business plan and how to make a winning pitch.
"This project is what Career and Technical Education is all about," Dr. Hennessy said. The mission of MSJC’s Career and Technical Education programs “is to engage, prepare, and educate learners, communities, and employees for careers in a global and competitive workforce.”
The program offers degrees, certificates and specialized programs to enable students to obtain the skills needed to be competitive in today's job market. Courses range from economics to nursing and more. The Competition project will allow faculty to help students become community business owners who may one day reinvest in other students’ businesses and future community projects.
Venture capital is one way to secure funding for a business in the startup phase. Often, venture capital investors will provide cash and other negotiated resources and support in exchange for an equity stake in the company. The Competition will give MSJC students a great way to understand the experience. In future years it is possible many of the students' projects will take shape in one form or another in the Inland Empire and become a vital part of the local economy.