A team composed of Cal Poly Pomona students won at the annual Draper Competition for Collegiate Women Entrepreneurs on April 5.

Bryan Giberson, Olivia Bouffard, Shiying Li and Nastaran Simarasl get their prize money from the competition. Courtesy of Nastaran Simarasl

Going against 48 schools and 500 other students at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, three CPP students won at the annual Draper Competition for Collegiate Women Entrepreneurs.

Olivia Bouffard, Shiying Li and Bryan Giberson , guided by assistant professor of strategic management and entrepreneurship Nastaran Simarasl, won $5,000 in prize money and $2,000 in scholarship money from Draper University in Silicon Valley. The team’s original product for the competition is Azuza Beverage, a machine which removes alcohol from beer.

“Our sales model involves licensing the machine to breweries based on how much non-alcoholic beer they sell,” Giberson said. “That way the breweries face very little initial financial risk, allowing us to better penetrate a market which might be skeptical about non-alcoholic beer due to the poor quality of today’s offerings.”

The team met through iStartup Academy, a web-based platform available to CPP students interested in being a part of an entrepreneurial team, and each member had a reason for creating the unique product. Bouffard is a fitness trainer who enjoys drinking but doesn’t have too many low-alcohol options available, Li said she gets alcohol flush reaction and Giberson tries to drink in moderation for health reasons.

The competition was for women only, so Giberson took the role of a director and practiced any moment available. He described the experience as nerve-wracking but fun, and worth sacrificing spring break for.

Professor Simarasl traveled with the team and helped them prepare for it as well, meeting with them during her after-hours since January. She received an email about the competition and sent out a questionnaire for interested parties to apply. In the end, it was between two teams and she went with Azuza Beverage.

“A lot of people probably wouldn’t spend their time on things like this,” Simarasl said. “You don’t get any money for it and you don’t get much credit for it. But I want to be entrepreneurial.

“I want to be able to see the opportunities and introduce them to others, to our students who may not be exposed to these opportunities as much as I see them,” she said. “I loved watching [Li and Bouffard] growing and learning and acting so professional and networking. It made my heart so happy.”

The competition started off with a three-minute presentation that covered the team, business idea and problem to be solved, along with revenue and costs. Round two consisted of only one team impressing the judges with more details in only 90 seconds.

The team members plan on using the money to invest in the company, as well as cover educational expenses. They are also in the process of building a production mode and have interested investors.

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