LMU Team to Compete for $25,000 Prize in Final Round of L.A. Mayor’s Cup Challenge

A Loyola Marymount University team will compete against four other finalists on Thursday, Dec. 8, in the Mayor’s Cup Challenge – a countywide contest encouraging student entrepreneurs and academics to find solutions to civic problems.

The winner, chosen by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and a panel of judges, will earn a $25,000 prize and the chance to develop a business concept for eight weeks in L.A. City Hall.

LMU’s Mayor’s Cup finalists – three M.B.A. students in the College of Business Administration – answered the contest’s call to better connect small-business owners in Los Angeles to professional services and new growth opportunities.

Their solution is a website called Business Investment Network of Los Angeles, which links up small-business owners needing funding with potential local investors. BIN-LA allows these businesses to create posts explaining their needs, and alerts the investors to companies meeting their preferences.

“We want to help bridge the gap between small-business owners looking for capital and local professionals who are looking to share their resources in support of the business community,” said team member Leslie Edwards, who with Sarah Llanes and Rebecca Bergin joined the competition as part of a social entrepreneurship class taught by Jason D’Mello, Ph.D.

“Our students have worked extremely hard, balancing the challenging demands of this competition while working full-time jobs, other coursework and other life responsibilities,” said D’Mello, assistant professor of entrepreneurship. “They’ve turned a class project into a feasible business and have each become more confident, resourceful and entrepreneurial as they’ve stepped out of their comfort zones to do whatever has been needed to earn a spot in the finals.”

More than 100 teams entered the competition; 46 made the first cut, and fewer than 30 teams entered the semi-finals.