Team from Cal State Los Angeles takes top prize for small business development resource center
LOS ANGELES — Small Business Strong is the winner of the 2016 Mayor’s Cup, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced today. The team — comprised of undergraduates from Cal State Los Angeles — took top honors for its idea for a traveling small business resource center, which could deliver mentorship opportunities and pathways to capital to underserved, underrepresented, and under-connected small business owners.
The Mayor’s Cup is a competition for young entrepreneurs at L.A. universities to pitch innovative solutions for tackling the city’s biggest challenges. Competitors were asked to develop ideas to address one of two issues: growing L.A.’s economy and civic engagement in neighborhoods. More than 100 teams applied, with the top five competing in the finals.
“The future of entrepreneurial innovation is right here in Los Angeles, and Small Business Strong and the other competitors show that our colleges and universities are full of creative people with ideas that can change lives,” said Mayor Garcetti. “What’s special about the Mayor’s Cup is that we can harness their imagination and skill to achieve something we all believe in — making local government work better for all Angelenos.”
Small Business Strong claimed a $25,000 prize and will work with the Mayor’s Operations Innovation Team for eight weeks to prototype their idea.
The other four finalists were:
BIN-LA: Website which complements the L.A. Business Portal to connect small business owners and entrepreneurs to investors in the Greater Los Angeles area.
Hygiea: Waste management “Internet of Things” platform outfitting trash cans with sensors and real-time data to provide fill data feedback and suggest efficient routes.
Pangaea: Comprehensive professional resource bank with a focus on Black and Latino-owned small- and medium-sized businesses with enhanced search functionality and crowdsourcing.
The L.A. Skill-Builders Initiative: Web platform to cultivate entrepreneurial ecosystem by bridging the skills gap between manufacturers and the labor force (including community colleges).
Finalists pitched their proposals to a panel of judges, including: Troy Carter of Atom Factory; Jennifer Lopez of the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space; Brian Lee of The Honest Company and LegalZoom; William Pomerantz of Virgin Galactic; and Diana Trujillo of NASA.
“The Mayor’s Cup is an exciting program that brings together government and entrepreneurs in a way to explore how technology can make the city more efficient and productive,” said David Belasco, Co-Director and Adjunct Professor at the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. “We believe that this competition will bring unique ideas to improve the lives of Angelenos.”
The Mayor’s Cup was supported by the Mayor’s Office of Budget and Innovation, LA City Partners, USC Marshall School of Business, The Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the USC Marshall School of Business, the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at California State University- Los Angeles, the Fred Kiesner Center for Entrepreneurship at Loyola Marymount University, and Cross Campus.
Key partners in this year-long effort include the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the USC Marshall School of Business, USC Marshall School of Business, the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at California State University- Los Angeles, the Fred Kiesner Center for Entrepreneurship at Loyola Marymount University, Startup UCLA, FuturizeX at UCLA, LA City Partners, Cross Campus, the Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy and Jobs, the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, Mitú Network, AmplifyLA, Hacker Fund, Make in LA, LADWP La Kretz Innovation Campus, Hexlab MakerSpace, Nava College Prep Academy, Swipe Out Hunger, LegalZoom, Bixel Exchange, Indie Desk, Startup DTLA, Two Bit Circus, Crush Industries.