Startup Competition kickoff draws a crowd

Biolans still have time to pitch project ideas to the Office of Innovation.


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The Office of Innovation encourages students to test out creative ideas in the startup competition.

Phoebe Vrable, News Editor

On Wednesday night in Giumarra Courtyard, the Office of Innovation hosted a lively kickoff event filled with free charcuterie and Chick-Fil-A, as well as a Q&A time and information about the upcoming annual startup competition. Guest speakers Sarah Hartono and Hannah Chu, both Biola alumnae, shared inspiration from their career journeys. 

The event focused on the advice from Hartono and Chu, geared towards encouraging students to test out their ideas and embrace the process. “We want you to feel like you can — with any idea that you have,” Director of the Office of Innovation Silvia Mah said, welcoming students.  


Both Chu and Hartono shared about their career journeys. Hartono, a 2022 Biola business alumna who competed in Biola’s startup competition three different times, now works for a startup called Millubox. Chu, a 2015 cinema and media arts Biola alumna, is currently a Leadership Development Coordinator for Pixar

Chu said that finding a brand that supported what was important to her made all the difference. As a Christian, Chu said that ownership of her faith reflected in excellent work and in how she treated other people was important to her. Pixar’s studio guidelines also reflect values of ownership and authenticity, which encouraged Chu to allow her entertainment gifts to flourish with her identity as a Christian. 

Hartono said that her idea of success changed during her time at Biola. Instead of viewing success based on her achievements, Hartono now measures it by asking herself if she is living out her priorities. In her speech, she encouraged students to rest in their God-given identity and value resting on weekends. Doing so, said Hartono, reminds students that they are not self-reliant and God gives them success. 

“Working with people is messy and broken,” said Hartono as she reflected on business collaboration. “But being able to bring redemption in those moments sometimes becomes the most beautiful.”


Throughout the course of the next two semesters, different teams will compete to develop business plans which will have the potential to win seed money. 

“You become an incubated idea at the office of innovation,” Mah said. 

For students who want to participate in the competition, a concept paper will be due this semester, followed by mentorship in the spring, leading up to the presentation. The mentorship stage will help students build business plans and pitch their ideas to the public. Resources will also be provided, such as a networking event where entrepreneurs can meet others with relevant skills to bring onto their teams. 

“You’re not alone, we’re here to help you,” said Mah. “We have a vibrant group of students who care deeply for all the entrepreneurs and the startup type culture that we’re trying to create … We can co-create what God wants each and every one of us to do.”

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