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‘NoSpill’ Tray for Delivery Drivers Captures Bull Ring Grand Prize

April 30, 2019

Original Article

The NoSpill Systems team with Smart Prosthetics, Horizon Covers and team Neuwork. The teams are joined by the distinguished judges, entrepreneurship program director Ryan Holbrook, Bull Ring partner Jeff Marine and Chandra Subramaniam, dean of the CSUN Nazarian College. Photo by Patricia Carrillo.

While making office coffee runs or delivering meals for Postmates and DoorDash, Bretiel Danipour and Stephanie Villa dealt with a growing problem frequently experienced by on-demand food delivery drivers: Driving around with multiple drinks and food containers can be disastrous.

Most personal vehicles don’t have enough cupholders for multiple orders, and auto seats aren’t contoured to hold take-out bags and drinks. One hard brake, and there goes your order — and your upholstery.

This spring, Danipour, Villa and fellow California State University, Northridge students Jenna Flynn and Tammy Nguyen formed an entrepreneurial team to develop a solution to this problem: an adjustable tray that molds to the shape of your front passenger seat, safely and securely holding take-out food and beverage trays.

For their invention, the NoSpill Systems team won first place and the audience choice prize at CSUN’s fourth annual Bull Ring New Venture Competition, hosted by the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics’ Entrepreneurship Program. The prize included $20,000 to help launch their product.

“Our team has put in so much work over these last few months to present a product that we are proud of,” said Flynn, a business honors major and entrepreneurship minor. “Winning Bull Ring was such an exhilarating experience and reinforced our desire to move forward with the development and production of the NoSpill Tray.”

The Bull Ring, modeled after ABC’s “Shark Tank” reality show, encourages students to pitch, launch and grow their original ventures. The competition provides access to mentors, coaching and potential investors.

Team members from NoSpill Systems as well as third place winner Smart Prosthetics are currently enrolled in the Nazarian College Minor in Entrepreneurship.

The Bull Ring gives Nazarian College students a chance to build on their academics to better prepare them to enter the fast-paced world of business, said Chandra Subramaniam, dean of the CSUN Nazarian College.

“We need to produce graduates that can think on their feet, be innovative and resilient. Entrepreneurship requires students to do all these things,” Subramaniam said.

After a series of workshops in February and March, and an initial call for applications, the field was narrowed to 20 semi-finalists. Each of these semi-finalist teams were paired with a dedicated mentor and given coaching and workshops to prepare for the competition and move their new ventures forward. They then competed in the semi-final event on April 4 which narrowed it down to five finalists.

In addition to $35,000 in total cash prizes, the top three winners will receive additional support services valued at $30,000 from the event sponsors, IntersectLA, DLA Piper and Armanino. All 20 of the semi-finalist teams received $250.

As the NoSpill team brainstormed new business venture ideas, Danipour noted how she often picked up multiple coffees for her coworkers — and how the beverage trays were constantly spilling over in her passenger seat. Villa, who had worked as a delivery driver for Postmates and DoorDash, confirmed that this was a problem.

The NoSpill Tray is made with a padded bean-bag bottom, allowing it to adjust and mold to the angle of any auto seat. The tray includes adjustable arms inside that can carry up to four take-out drink carriers — 16 drinks at a time — or different size take-out boxes. The tray can help delivery drivers, busy parents and office workers get food and beverages safely to their destination.

Next, the team members plan to patent the NoSpill Tray, make adjustments and coordinate manufacturing for their product, Flynn said.

“Our team is looking forward to continuing our work together after we all graduate this semester, and we are eager to see what the future has in store for us,” she said.

The event included an audience Q & A session with Jeff Marine — Bull Ring donor and partner at Hybrid/JEM Sportswear and Awake Inc., which produce private labels for major chain stores — and Chuck Davis, CEO and chairman of Prodege, which offers three consumer engagement platforms. Davis stressed the importance of taking part in extracurricular activities during college, keeping up with changing industries and showing enthusiasm for your work.

Bull Ring student team Horizon Covers took second place in the competition, winning $10,000. The team created tough and reusable luggage covers that keep luggage safe from scratches, dirt and water during travel. The cover also allows a user to track luggage in real time, using an embedded RFID chip.

In third place, Smart Prosthetics received $5,000 for their 3-D printed prosthetic arm, which can be controlled via Bluetooth using a smartphone app.

The other finalist teams were Tasl and Neuwork, which provides courses and events to help students learn mandatory skills outside of school for their dream jobs. Tasl is a collaborative software for students to connect academically and socially.

“It takes a lot to lean in on entrepreneurship, step outside your comfort zone and initially pursue an entrepreneurial endeavor,” said Ryan Holbrook, director of the CSUN Nazarian College Entrepreneurship Program. “This semester, all of our students have done just that.”


The Archives:

Dec. 18, 2018: CSUN Workshop Champions AI and Voice Technology for Social Change

Dec. 14, 2018: CSUN Summer Accelerator Wins 2018 UEDA Summit Award

Dec. 12, 2018: Horizon Covers Wins First Place at 4th Annual CSUN Fast Pitch Competition

Nov. 13, 2018: The New Workplace Frontier: CSUN’s Innovation Conference Fosters Entrepreneurs

Oct. 16, 2018: CSUN Hosts 5th Annual Art of Innovation Conference Covering 21st Century Entrepreneurship

Sept. 24, 2018: Alexa Innovation Fellowship Brings Voice to CSUN Student Business Startups

Sept. 24, 2018: CSUN Student Creates $25 Million Investment Capital Fund

April 26, 2018: CSUN Engineering Students Win $20K Prize in 3rd Annual Bull Ring

April 19, 2018: CSUN Bull Ring Final Event Preview

March 15, 2018: CSUN Named an Innovation and Prosperity University by APLU

March 6, 2018: CSUN Alum Wins $300,000 to Fund His Fitness App

March 6, 2018: CSUN Looks to the Future with AI Competition for Students

Feb 19, 2018: CSUN Alumna Wins Prestigious Young Entrepreneur Award

Feb 8, 2018: Bull Ring New Venture Competition Inspires Budding CSUN Entrepreneurs

Jan. 29, 2018: Mayor Honors CSUN MBA Student for Entrepreneurship

Jan. 26, 2018: CSUN Students Create Textbook Subscription Service

Jan. 23, 2018: CSUN Fostering Culture of Innovation

Jan. 11, 2018: CSUN Hosts Summit to Help Public Understand “Cryptocurrencies” and Blockchain

Jan. 8, 2018: CSUN to Host the 2018 USASBE Conference

Nov. 28, 2017: CSUN Promotes STEM Entrepreneurship with NSF I-Corps Program

Nov. 21, 2017: CSUN Students Make Their Fast Pitch

Nov. 16, 2017: Computer science major wins third annual Fast Pitch Competition

May 8, 2017: Sleepyhead Wins CSUN’s Second-Annual Bull Ring New Venture Competition

April 10, 2017: 5 CSUN Student-Entrepreneur Teams Advance to Bull Ring Competition Finals

March 6, 2017: CSUN Bull Ring Competition Returns with More than $60,000 in Prizes

Nov. 18, 2016: Fast Pitch Event Brings out the Best in Young Entrepreneurs

Nov. 16, 2016: CSUN's Second Annual Fast Pitch

Oct. 17, 2016: Students learn from innovative minds in the 4th Annual AOI Conference

Oct. 5, 2016: CSUN to Host Fourth Annual Art of Innovation Conference

Sept. 22, 2016: CSUN to Host Prominent Independent Entrepreneurship Conference (USASBE)

April 27, 2016: A New Way to Consume Probiotics Took Top Prize in CSUN’s Inaugural Bull Ring

April 27, 2016: CSUN "Bull Ring" Competition Names Top Student Entrepreneurs

April 25, 2016: CSUN Students Compete for More Than $50K at Inaugural Bull Ring

April 15, 2016: Meeting the Bull Ring Challenge

April 9, 2016: Bull Ring finalists move to next round

April 7, 2016: CSUN Matadors Enter a "Bull Ring" with Hot Business Ideas

March 30, 2016: Students to Face Off in First Round of CSUN’s ‘Bull Ring’

Feb. 25, 2016: [PHOTO GALLERY] Bull Ring Kickoff & Startup Workshops


Feb. 8, 2016: CSUN Launches a "Bull Ring" for Student Entrepreneurs

Feb. 8, 2016: CSUN to host first entrepreneurship competition: The Bull Ring

Jan. 29, 2016: New Entrepreneurship Concentration Available for CSUN MBA's

New Entrepreneurship Concentration Available for CSUN MBA's

Article in San Fernando Valley Business Journal
January 29, 2016


The Master of Business Administration (MBA) Program at CSUN’s David Nazarian College of Business Administration and Economics is putting a substantial gift from local entrepreneur David Nazarian to excellent use. The accredited (AACSB) and nationally ranked MBA (Best Grad Schools 2016, U.S. News and World Report; The Princeton Review Best Business Schools 2016) offers a new entrepreneurship concentration, an expanded data analytics curriculum, and a renewed focus on career education and professional development for its MBA students and alumni.


The modern entrepreneur is an innovative leader with a bias toward action and the ability to remain persistent in the face of adversity. The new concentration in entrepreneurship develops these attributes by equipping students with the interdisciplinary knowledge and distinct skills necessary to plan, launch and grow successful new ventures.

The concentration in entrepreneurship includes a broad set of courses that provide targeted classroom training and experiential, hands-on learning that immerses students in the four pillars of successful entrepreneurship: personal integrity, the idea, team and execution, and serendipity. Under faculty advisement, students conduct challenging consulting projects for local small-business owners and entrepreneurs, leverage new technologies that spark innovation, and apply structure and experimentation to the project-planning process.

Outside of the classroom, students have access to a variety of resources, including on-campus pitch competitions such as the current “The Bullring: Shark Tank Meets Matadors,” and cross-campus events, to develop their ideas. Students have opportunities to interact and learn from real-world, successful entrepreneurs through speaker events and conferences on the topic of entrepreneurship.

Upon earning the concentration in entrepreneurship, students will have developed a skill set that includes real-life experimentation, a team-based approach and a penchant for innovation.

Data Analytics

We are awash in data as never before in history, at an ever-increasing rate. In fact, 90 percent of the data in the world has been generated in the past two years. Technology has exponentially increased the amount of data available, making analytics a vital tool for business strategy.

The challenge for companies is to have managers trained to analyze all of this data. From the point of view of business schools in general and marketing departments in particular, the challenge is to equip students to meet this challenge. The
MBA program offers two graduate courses in data metrics to address this need.

The course in marketing metrics uses practical applications and focuses on developing actionable insights for business managers. It provides a broad overview of key analytic strategies, concepts, issues, challenges and tools to interpret, review and critique current marketing strategies. Topics in this hands-on, active-learning class are organized around a quantitative assessment of the basic graduate marketing curriculum.

The course in data mining and predictive analytics covers an extensive collection of machine-learning tools that help uncover insights buried in business data. It covers concepts and methods in data mining and analytics applicable to business settings that lead to better managerial decision making. The course goes through the data-mining process, including data preparation, partitioning, model building, validation and selection. Students who complete the course are able to apply modeling tools that include classification, prediction, association and clustering — using supervised and unsupervised approaches. The class is interactive, using a combination of lectures, teamwork, case studies and software in a computer lab environment.

Career Services

Substantial improvements are being developed and implemented in career guidance, placement, mentoring, networking programs and events, and targeted corporate partnerships for the MBA students. Rigorous new programs in career counseling and marketplace preparation help graduate students hone professional life skills that complement and augment the Nazarian College’s historic track record of distinguished, cutting-edge pedagogy in business disciplines.

In every case, the goal is to ensure that students and alumni have more and better opportunities and preparation to advance beyond their mid-career level. A particular emphasis on technology, industry trends and careers of the future generates long-term value.

The college's Career Education and Professional Development team works with individual students and alumni to explore, develop and communicate a personal, professional brand; learn about relevant and emerging opportunities; and use the full array of resources at their disposal. CSUN's Master of Science in Accountancy and Master of Science in Taxation students receive specialized attention through the Ernst & Young Center for Careers.

Local companies send their rising stars to the Nazarian College MBA program, and these firms look to CSUN as their “source of choice” for human capital and talent.

CSUN’s Nazarian College offers three master’s degrees—the Master of Business Administration (MBA), the Master of Science in Accountancy (MSA), and the Master of Science in Taxation (MST). The college also hosts a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) offered by its partner school Grenoble Ecole de Management in southeast France. In addition to its graduate degrees, Nazarian College offers a pre-MBA Graduate Certificate in Business Administration (GCBA). These evening and Saturday programs are designed for working professionals. With comprehensive tools and capabilities in place — and with ambitious initiatives on the horizon — Nazarian College’s MBA and Graduate Programs in Business are committed to being and remaining a national force.

Jan. 14, 2016: LACI@CSUN Ranked No. 3 Business Incubator in the World

Dec. 16, 2015: CSUN Introduces New Minor in Entrepreneurship to its Business School

CSUN Introduces New Minor in Entrepreneurship to its Business School

Written by: Robin Kellogg, Community Connection (local San Fernando Valley newspaper)

December 16, 2015

Photo from the first "Startup Workshop" - October 2015

Normally the introduction of a minor at a college doesn’t stir up a lot of excitement. However, when California State University Northridge (CSUN) David Nazarian College of Business and Economics introduced a Minor in Entrepreneurship in their Fall 2015 course listing, students took notice.

“Student reaction to the minor has been really strong,” according to Ryan Holbrook, Director of the new Entrepreneurship Program, who himself attended a college that was geared toward entrepreneurship. “Students are excited. They want to know more information about the minor and many have business ideas they want to pursue.”

“There are little pockets of entrepreneurship already happening on campus. For instance, the Music Department has a class called Music Entrepreneurship, which is an elective course as part of the minor. We encourage our students to go cross-campus and learn from other colleges and get to know those students as well,” Holbrook continued.

Fostering this interdisciplinary cooperation, The College of Business and the College of Engineering co-sponsored the Art of Innovation Conference in late October. “We brought together the top minds in entrepreneurship and engineering. They discussed the trends and opportunities available for entrepreneurs in the 21st Century, and potential ways to get involved.”

The Minor in Entrepreneurship, which rolled out this Fall, currently has 27 students enrolled. The hope is to grow the minor into additional sections, each with a maximum of 25 students. The smaller class size is the vision of Dr. Lois Shelton, a professor in the Department of Management, who has spent the past two years spearheading this effort.

Dr Shelton believes that capping the students per class at 25 offers a more direct impact and will make it a very experiential-based class. “Our goal,” explained Shelton, “is to fully engage students in the experience of entrepreneurship and inspire them to move beyond any pre-conceived limits so that they will be equipped to create and master the future; I believe that this can be accomplished best in the personalized, highly interactive environment of a small class."

Small Business Consulting, one of the courses offered in the minor, brings students in direct contact with business owners in the community. According to Holbrook, “Any business in the community can approach the school and have the students form teams that work on a project with the company. It can be a financial project, marketing project, a project about streamlining operations, or anything in between.” Holbrook added that businesses can also connect with the University through the Wells Fargo Center for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, which provides students with real-world opportunities.

Currently, the staff for the Minor in Entrepreneurship includes Dr. Shelton; Franc Vigneron, Director of the Wells Fargo Center and a CSUN professor, and Holbrook, Director of the Entrepreneurship program with responsibilities for all the co-curricular activities. The department is looking to hire a dedicated professor of entrepreneurship to help build out the curriculum and continue to develop the program.

In just this first semester, the Entrepreneurship Program has helped to coordinate the following events:
•    Speaker Series in conjunction with the CSUN Alumni Association
•    Startup Workshop Series, held this past October to prepare students for a Fast Pitch competition in November. The students were each given two minutes to pitch their business ideas to a panel of seasoned investors.
•    CSUN Innovators Alumni Mixer that brought entrepreneurial-minded alumni together.
•    New Venture Competitions, including a Spring 2016 event called the Bull Ring. “Think: Shark Tank Meets Matadors” Holbrook noted, referring to the school mascot. The community is invited to attend as audience members. As part of the competition, the grand prize winner will receive $25,000 to use toward their business idea in addition to in-kind sponsorships and a spot at the Los Angeles CleanTech Incubator (LACI) on campus. “LACI has also been helping to put the workshops together and find judges and mentors. They’re my partner in this,” Holbrook added.

Holbrook realizes that not all the students who take the minor will start their own business right out of school, but he believes the foundation they gain does a few important things:
•    Plants the seed so that perhaps 10-15 years down the road they will be able to recognize opportunities as they arise
•    Gives them a chance to work on their leadership as part of a multidisciplinary team
•    Teaches them how to present effectively. Most of the education the students will receive involves how to pitch to investors, and that’s a valuable skill. You’re selling when you are on a job interview or when you’re taking on consulting projects.

He added that the minor also promotes writing skills, developing an action-bias, and confidence—all necessary traits for a successful entrepreneur.
“For us to get this program done correctly, we not only need to engage our alumni but the greater community,” summarized Holbrook.
For students who may not have declared the minor but want a taste of what entrepreneurship can mean in their lives, they can join the newly created Entrepreneurship Club, open to all current students cross-campus.

Dec. 2, 2015: CSUN Selected for VentureWell Pathways to Innovation Program

Original Article

CSUN Team Members (Engineering & Business) for VentureWell Pathways to Innovation Program

Nov. 10, 2015: David Nazarian Gives Insight Into the Business World

Oct. 28, 2015: CSUN Fashion Entrepreneurs

Oct. 26, 2015: Associated Students hope to help students become entrepreneurs

Oct. 20, 2015: CSUN Colleges Collaborate on “Art of Innovation” Conference