Business Pitch Challenge, Cal State L.A. | Dec. 17, 2012 | Spotlight

Cal State L.A. invests in prospective entrepreneurs

‘Keva Fitness’ video pitch garners first place in annual challenge

Photo: screen capture of Keva Fitness video pitch. A screen capture of the Keva Fitness video pitch. (The video will be available for online viewing soon.)

Photo: Swara Shah and Lauren Solie. Pictured (l-r): First-place winners Swara Shah and Lauren Solie during the CSULA Business Pitch Challenge awards presentation.

Pitching a good business plan is key to securing an investor.

Providing that learning opportunity to would-be entrepreneurs, students throughout campus were recently invited by the College of Business and Economics at Cal State L.A. to put together a five-minute video highlighting an innovative business idea.

With their combined entrepreneurial talents, CSULA graduate students Lauren Solie and Swara Shah produced a video pitch for Keva Fitness, which won first place at the 2012 CSULA Business Pitch Challenge. The event, themed “unleashing idea,” was organized as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

The annual campus challenge showcases student videos that present a compelling case for investing in a business.

The project originally started out as a small yoga business that Solie had pitched to her class. Solie, who recently completed her master’s degree in health care management, is an actress, producer, film writer, and professional figure skater. She is also working with L.A. County on public awareness campaigns focused on disease prevention.

“With my classmates’ advice and my professor’s knowledge,” Solie explains, “I was asked to create something that was more international, or to brand or market the idea on a larger scale. That’s why I created Keva Fitness—it’s a mix of yoga workout with contemporary dance.”

She added, “It was also great to work together with Swara. Her experience certainly helped to augment the business proposal.”

Shah, who is working toward her master’s degree in health care management, specializes in marketing, management and human resources. Her background includes development of a marketing plan for the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and a management plan for the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center labor and delivery department.

A panel of distinguished entrepreneurs, CSULA alumni and academics judged the competition.

According to guest judge America Tang, CEO of Ace Fence Company and CSULA distinguished alumna, “Keva Fitness is a dynamic, realistic project that has the potential of being launched successfully in today’s market. Consumers now are very much fitness conscious. Keva offered a program that encompassed both exercise, yoga and meditation. All these three ingredients are essential elements (for a healthy lifestyle). The name of Keva was also a well-chosen name—short, original and easy to remember.”

Photo: screen capture of Emerald Pet Services video pitch.
A screen capture of the Emerald Pet Services video pitch.

In addition to a five-minute video pitch, each participant in the competition was required to submit an executive summary, which encompassed the following areas: the opportunity, solution, competitors/substitutes, business model, distinctive competency, and accomplishments.

The competition aims to discover and reward ideas that show business promise, and to offer publicity for a business concept and/or an investment opportunity.

“In fact, Keva Fitness is close to securing investors for the proposed business and is seeking a few more financiers,” said CSULA’s Management Professor Angela Young, director of the University’s Business Pitch Challenge. “To continue the momentum in entrepreneur activities at CSULA and to equip students with the business skills and experience needed to become successful, another event is being planned for spring 2013.”

This year, two other Cal State L.A. students—Russell McMillan and Barney Santos—were awarded with second-place and third-place honors, respectively.

McMillan, a health care management graduate student, developed a business pitch for Emerald Pet Services, while Santos, a business administration major with a focus on entrepreneurship, developed a business pitch for, which is an online real estate photo application.

Santos, who always aspired to own or start up his own business, credits Cal State L.A. for helping him to connect to business resources and for expanding his mind to vast opportunities.

“It’s not just what you learn in the classroom,” Santos said, “but it’s (also) what you experience outside of the classroom that takes you where you want to go.”

For a video interview with Solie:

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