Justin Connell won two Scheinfeld Center business pitch competitions in 2012: Enterprise Launch Demo Day and the 2nd Annual Scheinfeld Center New Venture Challenge (NVC) from which won the grand prize of $4,000 in seed capital. Soon after winning these competitions, he also received $250,000 from an outside investor, valuing his company at $1 Million!
While attending Santa Barbara City College, his career aspirations changed from basketball to business. The Scheinfeld Center’s entrepreneurial courses and supportive mentors helped him realize his “big picture” desire of becoming a successful entrepreneur and he chose to major in Business.
Justin got his idea for LifeCycle Gardens™ (then Garden on Wheelz™) while participating in the Scheinfeld Center’s Enterprise Launch™ program, where entrepreneur-in-residence Dr. Jon Anton gave him the base of the idea. Justin quickly formed a good relationship with Dr. Anton and innovated the idea into Garden on Wheelz with Dr. Anton’s mentoring and with the help of other volunteer mentors in the class.
The seed money he won in the Scheinfeld Center New Venture Challenge (NVC) enabled Justin to hire an industrial designer to help develop a mass-production model. He also hired advisors for cost efficiency and spent the night on a street corner in L.A. auditioning for “Shark Tank” (and got to round 2 of 3)! He bought out his partner to enable him to own 100% of the patent and business before receiving his first $250,000 investment.
Justin competed in the NVC as he saw it as another opportunity to gain valuable experience in presenting the product to a panel of judges/investors and a large audience. And, of course, to win the prize money! His experience at the NVC gave him excellent experience in presenting and he made valuable connections and gained a mentor from the judging panel.
Justin’s plan down the road is to continue down the path of entrepreneurship and be his own boss. After his experiences at the Scheinfeld Center, he can no longer envision himself working for someone else.