Venture Challenge rewards students’ business innovation

The Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at California State University, Fresno awarded the top 2011 Student Venture Challenge prizes to entrepreneurial innovators of a specialized-diet food business and home services company.

Justin Page, a Fresno State senior business management major, received the $5,000 first prize for his Dressings to Impress idea. His business is designed to produce and sell natural condiments, marinades and salad dressings free of glutens, sugar, preservatives, dyes, trans fat, hydrogenated oil and chemicals.

Lyle Quillin, a senior entrepreneurship major at Fresno State, presented Cal Services. His business is a complete home service company that offers services including: pool care, lawn care, window washing, on-site car washing and detailing. Quillin was awarded a $2,500 cash prize for second place and another $1,000 for the People’s Choice Award, which was determined by online votes for his video pitch via YouTube.

The student business idea finalists presented April 30 to a full auditorium on campus and a judging panel: Rock Clapper, a San Francisco Bay Area investor and entrepreneur; Ed McNulty, the principal in the Central Valley Fund; and Maury Domengeaux, who is CEO of  iSearch Media.

“This competition has really granted me the additional confidence I need to further my business plans,” said Page. “I gained a lot of information during the process from all of the mentors and entrepreneurs that I was introduced to.”

Page also won $500 on April 26 at an event sponsored by the Young Professionals Organization, San Joaquin Valley chapter, where finalists presented their business proposals.

“I’ve gained a lot of experience in presentation and met a lot of successful entrepreneurs over the past few months,” Quillin said after accepting his awards. “The fact alone that I’ve gained all of this knowledge is really going to help me in bettering Cal Services.”

The other finalists in the 2011 competition that began in February and was open to community and four-year colleges throughout the region:

  • Anmmar Alsaggaf, whose Grease Monkey Mobile is a vehicle service that goes to the customer by appointment.
  • Tiffany Lowe, whose Gourmet Caramels plays off the popularity of the candy.

“It’s inspiring to see how viable each of these student business ideas is,” said Dr. Timothy Stearns, executive director of the sponsoring Lyles Center. “Entrepreneurship is a key factor in overcoming economic adversity,” Stearns added. “We believe that this competition is providing the proper tools to prepare students for the tough road ahead.”

For more information, Stearns at 559.294.2045 or timothys@csufresno.edu.

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