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March 29, 2019

CSU, Chico Entrepreneurship Students Advance to Regional Future Four & More Competition

Winners of the Entrepreneur Challenge 2019 pose for a photo with their trophies.

California State University, Chico entrepreneurship students across disciplines competed for a spot at the regional business concept competition Future Four & More at Sacramento State to present their unique business ideas at the Center for Entrepreneurship’s (CFE) Entrepreneur Challenge on Tuesday, March 26.

The Entrepreneur Challenge offered a unique opportunity for students to present their business concept with two different tracks—the investment track and the social enterprise track.

“This year, we added a social enterprise track and reached out across the campus to identify student entrepreneurs in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors,” said CFE director Colleen Robb. “We were thrilled with how many students applied with social enterprise ideas–the winning concept deals with the housing shortage in Chico due to the Camp Fire, so it was timely and much needed by the community. Our investment track winners were also quite impressive, and we are looking forward to bringing our champions to Sacramento State next week.”

A panel of highly successful business leaders and alumni served as judges, including Michelle Kalberer (’96) of Klean Kanteen; Mitch Gardner (’15) and Rob Richardson (’16) of Pocket Points; Jon Gregory of Five Star Bank; Andy Keller (’97) of ChicoBag; and Lance Blanshei ('81) of Tea Bar & Fusion Café.

The students presented a variety of business concepts, from a software application designed to help students find their way across university campuses to an open-source software project that would allow users to manage their own personal data on a blockchain rather than with a centralized system such as Facebook or Google. 

Entrepreneurship major Tyler Cutter took first place in the investment track with his business concept Bearings and Stickers, a monthly subscription box for skaters.

“Bearings and Stickers would eliminate the most inconvenient and tedious task of skateboarding,” said Cutter. “It makes skateboard maintenance more convenient and engaging for those involved by providing new bearings and artwork on a monthly basis.”

Social work graduate students Sierra Schmidt and Suzi Bakken took first place in the social enterprise track with their business concept, Home & Heart. The concept—developed by Schmidt, Bakken, and two social work faculty members—is a home-sharing program that connects Chico State and Butte College students seeking affordable housing with older adults who have an extra room and need living assistance. Home providers would benefit from receiving extra income or helpful services such as meal preparation, transportation, and companionship, while students would benefit from securing affordable housing and developing a broader sense of community.

Both concepts—Bearings and Stickers along with Home & Heart—will compete at the Future Four & More competition at Sacramento State on Friday, April 5, for a chance to win up to $5,000 in startup funds.

Colleen Robb
Director, Center for Entrepreneurship