Campus: CSU Northridge -- December 10, 2004
CSUN MBA Students Pitch New Product Ideas, Man Chow Wins
Looking for an investor is always a challenge when you're starting out in
Teams of first-year MBA students at Cal State Northridge got a taste of how hard
it can be on a recent evening when they made pitches for hypothetical concepts
before their classmates, faculty and angel investor Richard Koffler, CEO of Koffler
Ventures, LLC, and president of the Los Angeles Venture Association.
The session gave students just a taste of what they'll be doing as they go through
Northridge's MBA program, said the program's director, Deborah Cours.
"This is the first class in our MBA curriculum," she said. "We don't expect
students to have all the skills necessary yet to conduct a complete feasibility
study and financial analysis. However, they should be able to understand what an
investor wants to hear: the product has market potential with competitive advantage,
the entrepreneur has considered the resources necessary, and there will be a return
Cours said some students, like Sobelman, used creative imagination to develop a
proposal that caught the audience's attention. Others used the opportunity to get
feedback on venture ideas they might one day pursue.
As part of the exercise, each student was allotted an imaginary investment account
and distributed their funds among 43 ventures proposed by their classmates. Student
teams each presented a one-minute "elevator pitch," a short introduction to a new
venture idea that is designed to gain investor interest.
"In an ‘elevator pitch,' entrepreneurs imagine they've stepped into an elevator
with a potential investor, and they have one or two minutes to sell their idea,"
said Wilma Worden, director of the Los Angeles Regional Small Business Development
Center at Cal State Northridge. She noted that "elevator pitches" are a screening
method commonly used by investors and venture competitions.
Before the pitches began, Koffler gave the students some insight on early stage
ventures and what investors consider when evaluating proposals. Cours noted she
hopes students were listening when Koffler stated "integrity is the most important
characteristic" of an entrepreneur.
The MBA program at Cal State Northridge is an evening program designed for working
professionals. An emphasis is placed on integrating current business theory and
"Business education must incorporate application of theory to be of value," said
Fred Evans, dean of CSUN's College of Business and Economics. "Throughout our
curriculum, we ask students to apply what they're learning to solve real business
Koffler Ventures, LLC, is a Pacific Palisades-based incubation and new venture
management firm specializing in accelerating progress and saving precious time,
maximizing the valuation and control of client's ventures, and attracting the
Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130,