UCI Collaboration Empowers B2B
Students of the Soka B2B program found out if there was “A Market for Their Product” at the fifth workshop hosted by the UCI Paul Merage School of Business. The workshop was held at the Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship as part of the UCI New Venture Competition, an opportunity for UCI students and now Soka B2B students to pitch ideas and develop concept papers to compete for $100,000 in prizes.
According to Mary Patrick Kavanaugh, the director of special projects and founder of the B2B program, “The New Venture Competition is one of many Beall Center initiatives designed to incubate business growth in Orange County. The partnership between B2B and UCI now allows our entrepreneurial-minded students to be key contributors to OC’s robust and entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
Sara Heimann, UCI’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Librarian, introduced the students to databases like IBISWorld, PitchBook, and Mintel which provide market research and consumer reports. Team B2B students have attended five workshops and will attend five more on subjects like “Demystifying Intellectual Property” and “How to Build a Winning Pitch Deck.” When asked how the New Venture Competition workshops have helped, B2B’s Maxine Xu ‘22 replied: “This is a unique opportunity to put theory into practice; we get to come up with an idea and learn how to best execute it.” Another student, Moses Addai ‘22 from the 2nd place enterprise Arsenova at November’s Impactathon, said: “Teamwork, networking, and competition. We get better at them every time.”
After the workshop concluded, the B2B students had a chance to network with UCI students and business mentors. Throughout the course of the New Venture Competition, UCI and Soka students can gain valuable insight from specialists in finance, marketing, and other business fields. Sergio Morales ‘22, B2B student and member of Ensendio, the 1st place enterprise at B2B’s November Impactathon, appreciated the opportunities afforded by Soka’s relationship with UCI: “Our collaboration with UCI provides us so much. More people are listening to our ideas.” Eddie Ng ‘13, the B2B program’s alumni ambassador, marveled at the state of the B2B program: “We didn’t have any of this when I was a student. It’s amazing to see where B2B has gone.”
As the B2B program grows, Soka students can expect even greater resources for their entrepreneurial ventures. Until then, collaborations with UCI and other institutions provide the B2B students with unique opportunities to network and develop their ideas.
—Riley Murphy ‘20