Sigma Upsilon Mu hosts first 8-Hour Business Challenge

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Brian Burgess (right) and Mitchell Gutenspergen (left) brainstorming ideas for their original business plan.  (Yunuen Bonaparte/ Daily Titan)
Brian Burgess (right) and Mitchell Gutenspergen (left) brainstorming ideas for their original business plan.
(Yunuen Bonaparte/ Daily Titan)

His fingers rest on his neck as he feels his pulse pounding nervously.

“I (can’t) believe it’s real,” said president of Sigma Upsilon Mu and physics major Phillipe Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, 21, could have graduated a year ago, but he stayed at Cal State Fullerton to help found and build the first chapter of SUM, which started last year.

“We started out from humble beginnings,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez and seven other founding members held meetings at Jay’s Coffee Waffles & More to plan out everything that goes into starting a fraternity.

“We have so many memories there,” Lorenzo Santos, SUM Director of Membership and a founding member of the fraternity, said.

Last Saturday, the business fraternity added to that list of memories by putting on its first major event: the 8-Hour Business Challenge.

Twenty CSUF students showed up at 8 a.m. ready to compete. Those with preformed teams were able to retain those teams. Those without a team were assigned to one.

By 9 a.m., five teams were formed: Team Icebreaker, Team Venture, Team K2M2, Team Quest and Team 3C.

The teams began their challenge. With four to five members in each team, students had to come up with an original business idea, produce a 60-second “elevator pitch,” create a video advertisement and a give five-minute verbal pitch all in the span of eight hours.

Some teams came up with their business idea quickly, while others struggled.

“We ran like 10 ideas into the ground,” said Team Venture member Royce Duong.

It took Team Venture about three hours before finally committing to an idea.

“We felt like we had to offer something really original,” said 21-year-old business administration major Duong.

Brandon Poore (far left), Brian Burgess (second from the left), Phillipe Rodriguez (middle), Royce Duong (second from the right), and Mitchell Guntenspergen (far right). First place winners, Team Venture, pose with SUM president after Saturday's event.  (Courtesy of Lorenzo Santos)
Brandon Poore (far left), Brian Burgess (second from the left), Phillipe Rodriguez (middle), Royce Duong (second from the right), and Mitchell Guntenspergen (far right). First place winners, Team Venture, pose with SUM president after Saturday’s event.
(Courtesy of Lorenzo Santos)

At around 6:30 p.m., each team went on TSU’s Pavilion C stage and presented their businesses to a panel with three critical pairs of eyes. Candace Miranda, social media director for CarnaVita; Jorg Gaubmann, founder of Pro Desk Space; and Kevin Tang, owner of HYPERLUSH Magazine judged and gave feedback to every teams’ presentations.

“They’re all young and eager with a lot of good ideas,” Gaubmann said. “That’s all you can really hope for the future.”

After the nerve-wracking presentations, and some unfortunate technical difficulties, the room filled with anticipation as the teams waited for the results.

Three inspirational YouTube videos and 40 minutes later, the results were in.

Business ideas ranged from an app to buy and sell textbooks to an app where anyone can pitch business ideas to investors and business professionals. The judges spent longer than expected to decide the winners.

“We had a little bit of a decision to make on second and third place,” Gaubmann said. “We were teetering back and forth.”

Yet first place was a clear pick for all the judges, Gaubmann said.

Team Venture won the night with their idea of a service that will give management at any company an online platform to give employee feedback.

Brian Burgess, 22-year-old accounting and human resources major, gave Team Venture’s five-minute pitch. Burgess worked at a restaurant and for a year, he had no idea he was given a raise. That lack of communication within the workplace inspired Team Venture’s business idea.

In addition to any winnings, all participants were given gift bags worth $80. SUM raised $2,550 in giveaway donations from sponsors such as Amazon and the Brea Improv.

SUM hosted the event as a form of publicity for their relatively new fraternity, Rodriguez said.

“We wanted to get the word out about who we are, what we do, and the value we can provide for people,” Rodriguez said.

SUM has 11 active members and five alumni, but Rodriguez hopes with events like the 8-Hour Challenge and upcoming workshops, that number will increase.

“We don’t host meetings, we host workshops. The difference is totally huge,” Santos, an advertising major, said. “What we focus on is doing.”

Rodriguez was happy with Saturday’s turnout and plans to host the 8-Hour Challenge once a semester.

“This was a prototype,” Rodriguez said. “This was just a test to see if people would be willing to participate in this challenge. Now that we’ve proven it, it’s going to be bigger and better next semester.”

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