Business pitch competition celebrates student entrepreneurs

Biola’s Office of Innovation hosts an inclusive contest for students aiming to start their own brand.

Lydia Snow, Freelance Writer

On the night of Oct. 12, the Office of Innovation held the Business Pitch Competition, where students presented original brand and product ideas. In the library courtyard, around a dozen students took turns stepping up to a microphone, hoping both to win a prize of $500 and to promote ideas and causes they considered important.


Raina Purtri, a newly-hired marketing coordinator, said she hoped the event will bring her “more connection and collaboration” with others from the Office of Innovation. She said she looked forward to witnessing students’ ideas come to life, as it would give her an immersive taste of the innovation culture that she oversees.

2021 Biola alumnus Alec Burns, a member of the judging panel, described his criteria for a winning pitch. “It needs to, first off, be clear; it needs to be engaging and memorable,” he said. “But I’m really hoping to see ideas that can change the world.”

“This is the first time maybe that some of you are pitching,” Sylvia Mah, the Director of Innovation at the Office of Innovation, stated at the beginning of the night. She expressed appreciation for the variety of pitchers, both experienced and new to the world of business. “We are unified in Christ to create and innovate,” she said. “Tonight is when ideas take flight.”


Among these ideas was the Institute of Tongan Language, a program that gives non-native Tongan people an online learning space in which they may improve their knowledge of their rich culture and its linguistics.

Also featured in the competition was KIKA, a charity founded by freshman political science major Kiara Rascon. Building off of the idea that $25 is enough to feed a starving child in Guatemala for a month, Rascon started out by selling t-shirts for $25 each in order to sponsor children’s meals. She now has investors on board as well, who provide monthly donations. The program currently supports around 200 children.

With “Tea Pot,” Cinema and Media Arts major Nathan Johnson aims to translate the magic of gourmet tea into an immersive in-person experience. His idea, which he described as “the peak of in store tea shopping for tea drinkers,” will allow people to tour a “flavor library,” where, with the help of expert tea curators, they can combine flavors of their choice into their very own personal tea blend. Johnson said he hopes to open his first in-person location soon.

Among the other unique ideas presented was New Vision Cleaning Services, a window cleaning program which offers straightforward online signups and instant quotes, as well as Thank God, a branded clothing company that donates to anti-human trafficking efforts and Kotak, a packaged lunch box product line that aims to make familiar Asian flavors accessible.

Also among the lineup was You Look Good Today — a brand that, inspired by the power a simple compliment has to save someone’s day, sells articles of clothing with compliments printed on them. The company XYZ Thing aims to make video game controllers more accessible for disabled people.


After private deliberation, the judges picked a winner — Johnsons’ Tea Pot concept received the $500 prize.

The student competitors displayed gratitude across the board for being able to participate. 

“I’ve been waiting for this day for a year because I remember I did not have a business idea or plan,” said Joseph Mendoza, a student who pitched the idea of a virtual reality imaging service. “Being able to do it this year — it feels awesome. It feels amazing to even be here.”

Stop by Biola’s Office of Innovation, which is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, to access resources for making entrepreneurial concepts a reality.

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