University hosts Pomona Innovation Weekend: an entreprenurial workshop series

By Brian Sease

Students from all walks of life were found at Pomona Innovation Weekend held at the BSC last weekend, collaborating and creating together on startup ideas.

Pomona Innovation Weekend (PIW) is a three day entrepreneurial workshop where students are put in groups and collaborate together to design a startup that they then pitch at the end of the weekend.

“[Pomona Innovation Weekend] is a really intensive workshop to celebrate the process of starting your own business with a group of students you wouldn’t normally work with,” said fifth year finance major and PIW Student Organizer, Bryan Limon.

This non-stop, three day, overnight workshop was in collaboration with Western University, and students from both Fullerton and Azusa Pacific were also invited to participate.

The event included food, rest time and the opportunity to spend both nights at the event in order to better optimize the small three day time frame.

The event started at three on Friday Oct. 20 with ideation, team building and business model generation.

Saturday then continued with customer discovery, prototyping and mentoring.

Here, the students had the opportunity to go outside the event and get information, prototyping and testing from a third party.

For example, at the event last year, one group pitching an idea for a more efficient way to order medication for large animals, went to a chain pet store and surveyed customers who were making their way in.

And lastly, Sunday ended the weekend with financing, final pitches, feedback from experienced entrepreneurs and professionals, and the award ceremony.

The ultimate goal of the weekend is to go from ideation to prototyping to pitches in only 54 hours.

“My main reason [for doing PIW] was for the experience to work in teams, to get to work with a diverse group of people,” said fourth year CIS major, Sophia Yamamoto.

“I guess for me,” said fourth year industrial engineer major, Brandon Performado “I wanted exposure for my small business,”

Although the goal of the weekend is to create a startup, Dr. Olukemi Sawyerr, Director of Student Innovation, CPP and Western University, described that’s it’s much more than that.

“I believe it’s important that students learn to work with students from other disciplines. Part of the value of going to college is meeting people not like you; college is a melting pot,” she explained.

“This is not about starting a business, this is about learning to unleash your creative mind. Letting people realize they have the capacity to create solutions to problems and opportunities in their communities,” she continued.

“It’s important to realize innovation and creativity have no disciplinary boundaries. None.”

With the abundance of different majors at the workshop, ideas completely unique of each other are able to immerge.

“The chance to develop networking skills allows each other to feed off each other’s differences. The wide variety of skills we have, they’re able to be in one place at a time instead of multiple events.” Said Limon.

One group from last year’s event felt that the produce grown on campus by the agricultural department isn’t being made easily available to students on campus, so they came up with the idea to harvest that food and make it much easier for students to get a hold of, through a box service.

Another group, whose members traveled a lot, created an idea for a service that connects young travelers with a local young person to show them around the city they’re traveling to.

For more information about Pomona Innovation Weekend, email Dr. Olukemi Sawyerr at or Peter Nguyen at

The event hosted students from Azusa Pacific University and CSU Fullerton

Courtesy of Cal Poly Pomona

The event hosted students from Azusa Pacific University and CSU Fullerton

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