Biola’s annual startup competition set to commence

Teams compete through virtual format for grand prize.


Courtesy of Sarah Hartono

Boba for Missions staff won Biola’s Startup Competition in 2019.

Bethsabe Camacho, Staff Writer

Biola’s Startup Competition housed by the Office of Innovation is set to begin after the Nov. 16 sign up deadline. This year’s prize of $30,000—divided among the top three winners—will be awarded on April 8, 2021.

Eligible competitors go through four rounds and are coached by experts in business on how to workshop an idea, develop a business plan and compete for capital, according to Director of Operations for the Office of Innovation Jordan Terranova. 


Doctoral student at Cook School of Intercultural studies Norlan Hernández discussed how his team has united around the aspiration to serve church leaders in Nicaragua in the form of a nonprofit organization.

Hernández’s team consists of both Biolans and those he has met through ministry. His team is now composed of four members that align missionally and he believes each of them bring a unique skill set.

“As I was thinking about who to bring on board this team I thought about the different challenges and obstacles and goals that we needed to achieve,” Hernández said via email. “These folks have what it takes to get to the finish line.”

Even though the pandemic has changed the way people work together, online tools are paving the way for this new normal, according to Hernández. He explained that he and his team have set up a calendar and are tracking their progress, which makes working in an online setting more feasible.

“The key ingredient and getting things done during the pandemic is intentionality and proactivity,” Hernández wrote via email.


Last semester winners, Boba for Missions, along with all former competitors were sent home before the competition’s end due to Biola’s campus closure because of COVID-19. Business administration major Sarah Hartono described her team had to press forward and found ways to overcome distance. 

Hartono and Terranova both echo the same advice to competitors: use this season as an inspiration to come up with an idea.

“This semester and this year we’re encouraging students to look around them and look at the opportunities they see, even in this season where everything looks different,” Terranova said. “How can they meet some of the needs of the world that they might be experiencing right now in this COVID season?”


This year’s competition will begin via online format. If the county and state grant Biola permission to reopen for the spring semester, the goal is to conclude the competition in person.

The Office of Innovation had to get creative with their marketing methods by working with all nine of Biola’s schools to relay information in the form of several Biola newsletters, a marketing video, emails sent out to those subscribed to the Office of Innovation and partnering with professors to dispense information to their students.

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