Student Entrepreneurs Win Second Annual Business Plan Competition
Eight students have taken top honors in a business plan competition put on by the College of Business Administration and Public
Policy (CBAPP) at California Sate University, Dominguez Hills.
In its second year, the CBAPP Business Plan Competition provides CSU Dominguez Hills students with real-world experience in
developing a business plan and offers winners cash prizes and invaluable advice from local business leaders to enhance their
entrepreneurial skills and spirit. More than a dozen students—some in teams—entered the competition, which required them to
submit a detailed business plan. A panel of business leaders judged the plans and called back seven finalists to give oral
presentations to determine the top four plans.
First place went to a five-member team who conceived of Student Life 360, a web company aimed at providing websites with a “360 degree view” of a university and its surrounding community. The sites would offer comprehensive up-to-date information
about local businesses and events both on and off a college campus. The team—business undergraduates Jeff Quon, Brandon Derrick, Kevin Melchor, Michael Thomas and Rosette Haggar—said the initial concept behind the website was to help acclimate incoming
students or guests unfamiliar with a campus and its surrounding area, but they also see the potential for Student Life 360 sites
to become the premier online source for college activity. With the award prize of $2,500 the students plan to launch a pilot
Toros360 website for the CSU Dominguez Hills campus, and based on success, expand to other four-year universities after two semesters.
“This was an invaluable experience for all of us,” team leader Quon said.
Second place, and $1,500, went to Lisa Bagby-Dobson, a graduate student in the Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding
master’s program. After being laid off last year from her job in human resources, Dobson decided to start HR Services for Non-Profits,
Inc., a company designed to provide small nonprofits—particularly charter schools—with all of their human resource services.
“I saw the competition as a way to focus,” she told the board. “I can’t tell you the number of doors that have opened up because of
Runners-up Ronnisha Owens, a junior majoring in marketing, and LaToya Brown, a graduate in the Technology Based Education master’s
program, each received $1,000. Owens submitted a business plan for Urban Beauty Body Bar, a personal care company she recently
launched that specializes in handmade organic skin and hair care products customized to a client’s skin needs. A line of pre-made
organic products is also sold with a portion of each sale going to a specific charity tied to that product. Brown conceived of the
nonprofit One Step 4 Ward, which would open technology access centers in low income communities to help bridge the digital divide.
“Entrepreneurship is the heart and soul of business,” said CBAPP Dean James Strong. “This competition is exciting and empowering;
it gets the students engaged. It’s also interdisciplinary, and I think it’s important that we continue supporting it.”
Cash prizes were made possible through donations from State Farm, Toyota, Executive Perils brokerage firm, and vice president of
investments at Wells Fargo Advisors and CSU Dominguez Hills alumnus Greg Haeseler (Class of 1985, B.A., business administration).
The winning team also received an invitation to an all-day entrepreneur boot camp offered through Maverick Angels, as well as the
equivalent of one day of work or advice from local businessmen Lee Petillon, attorney and principal at Petillon, Hiraide and Loomis;
Wade Downey CPA (Class of 1992, B.A., accounting), a founding partner of tax consulting firm Downey, Smith and Fier; and Rodney
Pierce, partner of business consulting firm Compass Acquisition Partners, LLC.
The panel of judges included Bay Hilborn, human resources manager with State Farm, and the following CBAPP Advisory Board
members: Downey, Petillon, Pierce, and Patricia Williams, owner of 11 McDonald’s franchises. Business consultant Ernest T.
Klinger, a lecturer in the college and chair of the CBAPP Advisory Board, administered the contest.
For more information on the College of Business Administration and Public Policy, call (310) 243-3548 or visit
- Amy Bentley-Smith
Photo above: Winners and supporters of the second annual Business Plan Competition held by the College of Business Administration and Public Policy
Winners and sponsors of the 2010 Business Plan Competition held by the College of Business and Public Policy (CBAPP) include (L-R, standing): Ernie Klinger, lecturer, CBAPP and competition organizer; Jeff Quon and Brandon Derrick, first place; LaToya Brown, runner-up;
Rosette Haggar, first place;and James Strong, dean, CBAPP
L-R, seated: Michael Thomas and Kevin Melchor, first place; Lisa Bagby-Dobson, second place; and Ronnisha Owens, runner-up
Photo courtesy of CBAPP