Winners of Biola University’s First-ever Startup Competition Announced

First place wins a $15,000 cash prize and more to fund their dream business

Apr. 8, 2016 By Daryn Daniels

Biola University Crowell School of Business announced the winners of its first-ever startup competition on April 8. First, second and third place winners received up to $15,000 in funding along with legal and accounting service startup packages to jumpstart their business.

The competition, hosted by Crowell School of Business, started Sept. 14. Of the 29 entrants, six finalists were selected on Dec. 4. Each team included at least one current Biola student and one alumnus who graduated less than 10 years ago. The six teams were then paired with experienced coaches who helped them fully develop their business plans and pitches.

On April 8, the finalists presented their business plan to a panel of four judges including: Ronnie Andrews, founder of The Bethesda Group; Robert Yi, managing partner of Ten Talents Partners; Wes Wasson, CEO and co-founder of DreamStart Labs; and Ruth Lopez Novodor, CEO of Beverly Oncology and Imaging Medical Group, Inc. After seven months of finalizing their ideas and business models, three winning teams were selected.

White Elephant Post, a business aimed at providing students the opportunity to maximize their return on unwanted books and required academic materials, took first place. Team members Matthew Lemieux, Kayla Sutherland and Sean Harrington received a $15,000 cash award along with a $10,000 legal services startup package from Brown & Streza, LLP and an accounting services startup package from Nienow & Company, LLP to get their idea up and running.

“An opportunity like this really sets the initiative forward and gives us the momentum we need,” said Sutherland. “I can’t wait to see what they’re helping us mature into, and telling us that we were thinking too small and this could become even bigger than we’d dreamed is hugely exciting.”

Second-place winner, Worship Better, and third-place winner, House Account, also received cash awards — $7,500 and $5,000 respectively — and a complimentary consultation from Brown & Streza, LLP and Nienow & Company, LLP.

The three other finalist teams were Luminosity, Lightspeed Imaging and The Illuminate Collective.


After each pitch, judges deliberated while audience members had the opportunity to participate in 15-minute Q&A sessions featuring several entrepreneurs and venture capital executives.The speaker lineup included: Russell Bjorkman, venture partner and general counsel of Sovereign’s Capital; Eden Chen, co-founder of Fishermen Labs; Jessica Rey, founder and CEO of Rey Swimwear; Larry Stofko, executive vice president of The Innovation Institute; and Grant Van Cleve, president of Tech Coast Angels.

“To have these people — these mentors — tell us that Biola is legit and we stand up against the Ivy League schools is incredible,” said Harrington. “They support what’s going on here, and hearing them say, ‘you can do it’ gives hope to students in the start-ups and out of it.”

Learn more about the Biola Startup Competition.

Apply to Crowell School of Business.


Written by Daryn Daniels, iBiola intern. For more information, contact Jenna Loumagne, media relations specialist, at (562) 777-4061 or


  • Frank Wilson Apr. 13, 2016 at 9:38 AM

    Congratulations especially to White Elephant Post, first place winner and Worship Better. Jobs well done. Frank Wilson

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