First Place: “Intent” Christian Camp Management Software. L-R: Dr. Silvia Mah, Intent CFO Hakyeom Park, CEO Ellieanna Ross, CDO Abigail Laswell

“Entrepreneurship is a creative act,” said Dr. Silvia Mah, director of the Biola Office of Innovation. “It’s an act made possible by the creative impulse that God gave us. The Biola Startup Competition is where students demonstrate their passion for solving a problem, seek to delight their customers and bless their growing teams.”

Often those problems are very close to the hearts of the student-entrepreneurs, like summer camp is for Biola computer science major Ellieanna Ross, CEO of “Intent” — the winning team in the 2024 Biola Startup Competition.

“I've spent the past five summers working at camp,” said Ross. “I've seen hundreds of lives changed for eternity. But camp managers have a lot on their plate. How do they manage all of these things and still run a ministry? They use camp management software, but it's not quite that simple.”

“Camp software is outdated and obsolete,” said Ross. “It's confusing to navigate and it's super complex to do even simple tasks. Intent allows camps to focus on discipling campers and raising up the next generation, rather than on the operations. Intent improves efficiency and frees them up to focus on the important things. Intent is more than just a software solution — it's a partner in ministry.”

Ross and the rest of the Intent team — CFO Hakyeom Park (Business ’21), and chief design officer and Art student Abigail Laswell — received a $10,000 award plus legal mentoring by Rose Bowlus Law.

The second place finisher and recipient of $6,000 was ”Never Empty,” a digital solution for solving food waste developed by MBA student Erika Angell Haugen.

Third place winners — with a $4,000 award — were ”Evevie,” a community platform for women to share, gain advice and find a sense of sisterhood about women’s health, created by Business major Amy Payne and Public Health major Sarah Kim.

“Our student startups were spectacular!” said Mah. “All the finalists put in the work, persevered even though this is an extra-curricular project, and bonded as founders despite being from a variety of majors. Each year the competition gets harder and the students get more prepared. They inspire and sharpen each other.”

Sponsored by Crowell’s Office of Innovation, the Startup Competition is the culmination of Biola’s Student Startup Incubator that offers all current Biola undergraduate students, graduate students and recent (2020 or later) alumni the opportunity to transform a promising idea into a successful startup company. Aided by experienced executives and business leaders, teams have the chance to pitch their concepts, develop a business plan, gain valuable real-world insight and compete for capital.

Judges for the 2024 Competition were [pictured left to right]:

  • Allison Long Pettine, Founder & Partner, Crescent Ridge Partners and co-founder and partner, Ad Astra Ventures;

  • Charity McCloud, City Director for Resource Global Los Angeles and founder of ABC Connect Logistics;

  • Director of the Office of Innovation, Dr. Silvia Mah;

  • Andrew Feng, Director of Research and Strategic Partnerships, Faith Driven Investor & Indigitous;

  • Jack Chao, Partnerships Executive, Ardius (recently acquired by Gusto);

  • Fadi Hindi, Founder of Operate co. and angel investor.

“I honestly walked away feeling like I received more than I gave!” said Hindi. “I am blown away by the potential that this generation has to offer and if there are more students like this in this world, then this world might have a chance of restoration after all.”

The following startups also pitched their business proposals:

  1. Anchor - Founder & CEO Joseph Liu - Business (AI Platform). A biblical AI solution designed to help people answer questions about faith.

  2. CENT - Founder & CEO Nathalie Duque - Communication (MarTech). Helping college students save money one cent at a time!

  3. Daydream - Founder & CEO Sara Valladarez - Business (Fashion Brand). A size-inclusive women's fashion brand that will bring the basics to all.

  4. Eco-mineral Tech - Founder & CEO Perez Balikuddembe - MBA Finance (Sustainability Tech). Turning tech trash into treasure.

  5. GoGo - Co-Founders Angel Martinez, Jehan Christian and Audrey Seputra - Business (TravelTech). An all-in-one travel companion app offering a smooth and stress-free journey from start to finish, molding the way people travel.

  6. Hume & Kind - Founder & CEO Matthew Hume - Business (Fashion Brand). A lifestyle brand creating clothing and products for everyday living and leisure; designed for those who value richness and seek culture in life itself.

  7. Paws of Grace - Founder & CEO Stepan Smoldovskii - Business (PetTech). A web platform providing innovative solutions prioritizing the health and well-being of pets while promoting Christian values of compassion and service.

Winning one of the top three prizes is only the icing on the cake, however. Judges and invited guests are active angel investors and venture capitalists with a redemptive lens for their growing portfolios. Connections with these capital providers provide opportunities for all participating student entrepreneurs to take their plans to the next stage.

“What startup competitions deliver is an experience which connects all innovation stakeholders, like students pitching, experienced entrepreneurs, impactful investors, generous alumni and supportive faculty,” said Mah. “What is unique at Biola is the combination of a community of redemptive innovators, entrepreneurs and investors with the deep roots of Christ-filled business strategies and biblically-sound theology. The Biola Startup Competition helps students conceptualize and launch businesses aimed at resolving the world's largest challenges through faith, skill and entrepreneurial spirit.”

Invaluable assistance was provided by the staff of the Office of Innovation: Dena Rahel, Jehan Christian, Aliyah Amaya (President of Biola Entrepreneurship Society), along with entrepreneurs-in-residence Raina Abigail Putri and Sarah Hartono.

If you would like to be involved with the 2025 Startup Competition as a sponsor, judge or coach, please contact Biola’s Office of Innovation at or (562) 903-4734.

Learn more about Biola’s Office of Innovation.