March 13, 2014
MSJC students will compete in a “Shark Tank” style competition to receive start-up funds for a business
This spring, Mt. San Jacinto College students are learning what it takes to get an innovative business idea off the ground. The team that can successfully pitch its idea has a chance to receive $5,000 through the MSJC Business Plan Competition, thanks to the SOCO Institute.
The MSJC Business Plan Competition is a 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 supports economic growth through special projects.
"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.
Up to 20 students have already signed up by the application deadline in February, according to Dr. Hennessy and Business Administration instructor Larry Barraza. The presentation element of The Competition will occur the week of May 5 and will be loosely based on shows such as "Shark Tank" and "Dragon's Den," where aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of potential investors. 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.
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.
"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.
During the spring semester, student teams are paired with a faculty advisor who coaches them throughout the process to understand the elements of a good business plan and how to make a winning pitch.
Many of the students planning to participate were enthusiastic but secretive about their proposals so they wouldn’t give their competition too much of an advantage ahead of time. Some hinted at small businesses and micro-entrepreneurial projects that could really make the best use of the $5,000 grand prize. The winning team will receive its 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.
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.