Three MSJC Students Receive Startup Funds for Business Plans

May 22, 2015

Three Mt. San Jacinto College students have a head-start in business thanks to the start-up funds they received during The Competition, MSJC’s second annual event designed for budding entrepreneurs.

Team leader Axel King presented the Dawn of the LAN, a proposed sports bar and grill that reaches out to gamers. The idea took first place in The Competition., worth $5,000.

“It was a big surprise that I got it,” King said after being announced the winner.

The Competition, which was held on MSJC’s Menifee Valley Campus on May 16, 2015, is a cooperative effort between MSJC and the SOCO Institute. The institute is the charity arm of the SoCo Group, Inc., a petroleum marketer based in Carlsbad, Calif. The SOCO Institute, which provided funding, supports economic growth through special projects.

Based loosely on the TV show Shark Tank, one of the goals of The Competition is to give students an understanding of how to “pitch” a business proposal and how entrepreneurs and financiers interact. Venture capital, like the funding awarded to the winners, is one way of funding a business in the startup phase.

It also is geared to ensure the student entrepreneurs get the most out of the experience by having business leaders serve as the judging panel. This year, the panel included Lawrence E. Cutting, managing partner of the Orleans Group in Las Vegas; H. Scott McOwen of The SoCo Group; and Jay Goth, executive director of insocal Connect.

For the first time, a second-place prize of $2,500 was presented to team leader Samuel Waisman and team member Andy Mora for their proposed business, Innovative Game Distributors, which focused on the development and sale of original trading card games to retailers.

A second prize was presented because the scoring between the two projects presented during the May 16 competition was so close.

“It was very, very, very, very close,” said Denis Nurmela, a part-time faculty member of the MSJC Business Department and an author, speaker and business consultant. “We were very impressed with both companies.”

King’s proposal for a sports bar for electronic game players included plans to offer a snack-type menu and some alcoholic beverages. He said such a business would provide entertainment and dining for an “untapped market” involving an audience that enjoys watching and playing games such as StarCraft 2 and League of Legends. He added that the industry has grown rapidly since the late 1990s.

“There’s an untapped market for these fans,” he said.

The judges cautioned King to start slowly by first trying to entice existing restaurants to allow him to set up his electronic gaming in their businesses.

“The whole gaming thing, that is a winner,” McOwen said. “Let someone else do the food.”

Waisman and Mora split the presentation duties for their proposal. They want to create, print and distribute to retailers game trading cards and periodically update and revise the cards and games. Their business model included plans for warehouse and office space. They were advised to hold on to their funds unless it needs to be spent.

“Don’t invest any money unless you have to,” Scott cautioned.

Along with winning over the judges, King and Waisman also impressed Joyce Johnson, MSJC’s dean of instruction of Career & Technical Education.

“The teams were very skillful in their presentations,” she said.

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MSJC student Axel King presents his proposal for Dawn of the LAN, an e-sports bar and grill, at the second College's Business Competition, which was held May 16 at the Menifee Campus. King's proposal won first place, which included $5,000 to help start his business

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MSJC students Samuel Waisman, left, and Andy Mora discuss their proposal to develop, produce and sell original trading card games. Their proposed business, Innovative Game Distributors, won a second prize of $2,500 at the May 16 Business Competition at the College's Menifee Campus. It is the first time that a second prize has been awarded.

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H. Scott McOwen (foreground) of the SoCo Group Inc. questions one of the business students at the May 16 Business Competition at MSJC's Menifee Campus. McOwen, Lawrence E. Cutting (middle) of the Orleans Group and Jay Goth of insocal Connect served as judges for the event.