Laci Sanchez was the grand prize winner of the 9th Annual Jeff Marine Bull Ring New Venture Competition, which took place at the USU Grand Salon on April 24, 2024. (Bryan Rodgers / CSUN)

The finalists! Front row, left to right: Aileen Tang; Victoria Miteva and Luis Olmos; Andrea Lopez; Laci Sanchez; Evan Jones and William Chavez. Back row, left to right: Chandra Subramaniam, dean of the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics; Neeti Dewan, Zack Schuler, Catherine Grooms, judges; Ryan Holbrook, director of the Entrepreneurship Program; Zohar Ziv, judge; Sachin Nayyar, keynote speaker and Wendy Greuel, executive-in-residence, in the USU Grand Salon, April 24, 2024. (Bryan Rodgers / CSUN)

A second-year student with a talent for TikTok (as well as other social media) took the $10,000 grand prize at the ninth annual Jeff Marine Bull Ring New Venture Competition. Nineteen-year-old Laci Sanchez wowed the judges with her presentation to expand her existing social media production agency at the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics’ version of the popular show “Shark Tank.”

Sanchez, a sophomore majoring in finance, presented  “LS Trust Marketing”  to the judges in front of a packed house on April 24 at the University Student Union’s Grand Salon. Sanchez described her business as a “one-stop shop” for clients seeking to build their businesses using social media. She and her business partner, Paris Rayne, identify social media audiences for their clients and then design content aimed at their desired demographic. They also produce the social media content.

With the $10,000 prize, Sanchez said she plans to use the $10,000 prize to upgrade the equipment and purchase new cameras. Eventually, she wants to employ a videographer, photographer and an editor.

“I always wanted to have my own business,” Sanchez said. “But I really do enjoy school, and I really enjoy the rigor of going to class. It’s nice that I’m able to do both because I get the opportunity to do events like this.”

The five finalist teams had seven minutes to make their business and product presentations to the panel of four judges — who in turn, had five minutes to ask questions of each presenter. The judges for this year’s event included Catherine Grooms, director of the Small Business Development Center at College of the Canyons; Zack Schuler ’97 (Marketing), executive chairman of the board of NINJIO, a cybersecurity training space; Neeti Dewan, an entrepreneur, angel investor, author and motivational speaker; and Zohar Ziv, an entrepreneur and advisor. Sachin Nayyar, founder and CEO of Saviynt, a cybersecurity space, gave the keynote address.

This final event of the Jeff Marine Bull Ring New Venture Competition is the culmination of months of preparation. The competition is also the culmination of an entire program that supports students — from any academic department — in developing their business ideas. In the weeks leading up to the event, teams are encouraged to take part in training that includes pitch coaching, one-on-one mentoring and workshops.

Chandra Subramaniam, dean of the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics, said the school’s entrepreneurship courses and programs  give students a head start with their business ideas — something they can continue to develop once they graduate. He said he is always impressed with the students’ entrepreneurial spirit.

“These are students who are hardworking and willing to put in the time to create something that is going to be beneficial,” said Subramaniam. “They want to be their own boss. They say, ‘This is something I want to do.’ Bull Ring allows students to build skills in terms of how to think on their feet and how to develop ideas and new ventures.”

The four other finalist proposals included a wheelchair lift and stowing solution on cars (Atlas); an online learning platform for students studying math and science (Practice & Potential); a social media platform designed for active learning (ReCreate); and an online secondhand clothing site for resellers (ReThrifted).

In addition to the grand prize, second and third prizes were also given, as were special awards, as follows: 

Second Place: ReThrifted, $5,000 

Third Place: Atlas, $2,500 

Audience Choice Award: Atlas, $2,500 

Entrepreneurial Leadership Award: Practice & Potential, $1,000 

Best Use of Technology Award: ReCreate, $2,500 

Social Impact Award: Semi-finalist The Eleven Shop, a foster youth-led business that makes and sells candles. $2,500 

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