When I first came to Chapman as a broadcast journalism major, I thought I would be graduating after four years of school and be venturing into the entertainment industry.

However, I find myself in the software industry recently winning the Leatherby Center’s Chapman University Business Plan Competition with my team, Excelerate, a software as service (SAS) and data as service (DAS) test preparation software. We were awarded $5,000 and may receive a Tech Coast Angels Seed Financing Invitation to be potentially funded up to $1,000,000 in seed financing. Tech Coast Angels is the largest seed financing organization in the United States.

As another result of winning the Leatherby Center’s Chapman University Business Plan Competition, we were invited to competing in California Dreamin’ on April 25th, an exclusive competition that brings together students from top entrepreneur programs to prove that they have the best business model. If we win the $250,000 in prize money/equity investment, we will use it to revolutionize test preparation for all standardize testing and applying big data to education.

As I reflect on my journey in the Internal Business Plan Competition, I realize I’ve met people at Chapman who helped my team reach a level of success. From them, we learned to file patents, create a business plan, and perfect the proper way to pitch to investors. I can easily say the competition was one of the best experiences of my life.

I must also say that Chapman taught me how to use my creative mind and social talents and apply them to something bigger than the stereotypical communications job I had ahead of myself. I never thought of being in the software industry because I had no background in computer science or engineering; It didn’t seem like an option for someone with a creative mind. Plain and simple, at most universities, you enter the work force with the major you spent four years earning a degree towards.

Dr. Danielle Struppa and Dean Jerry Price are two huge influences I had pushing me to take advantage of all the opportunities Chapman made available to me, that I didn’t even know were there. This led me to the eVillage, a place on campus where student entrepreneurs are connected with mentors and resources.

The eVillage provided me with mentors Bob Godlasky and Anurag Bist who truly wanted to invest time and help me succeed. Without the eVillage, I never would have become the winner of the 2014 Chapman University Business Plan Competition, which changed my company’s life.

Without Chapman and the help they provided, I would be a graduating senior frantically looking for a job. Instead, I will be full time with a company I am passionate about and I will hopefully help grow into the biggest software company of our generation.

I have three other members on the Excelerate team: two from University of California, Berkeley and one from University of California, Davis. It was nerve racking at times getting everyone down to Orange to prep; however, the mentoring and support we received led to a great pitch and first place win. I am excited as my team and I prepare for California Dreamin’ this Friday, and believe we are prepared for success!

Wish us luck as we compete!

-Landan Davia