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From apps to turbine blades, entrepreneurs from CSULB pitch ideas at startup contest • Long Beach Business Journal

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When doctors told Arthur Varin that the treatments available to manage his generalized anxiety disorder were only for symptom management and not to actually cure him, it was not a reality he was going to simply accept.

As a software engineer, Varin believed he had a solution: a “self editing software” that would help teach his brain to turn his anxiety off. Meditation, he decided, was the best way to do that, which led to the creation of Unwind-Meditation Trainer, an app that teaches people how to meditate using a personal progression system.

When he first looked into the apps available for self-guided meditation, Varin—who earned his MBA from Cal State Long Beach in May 2021—said the options available to him at that time were too “cluttered,” and he wanted something more simple and streamlined.

He was among dozens to pitch startup ideas at the Sunstone CSU Startup Launch contest at CSULB on May 6, which featured 20 teams led by students or recent graduates of six Cal State University campuses.

Varin’s app teaches and trains people in meditation through a daily progression system. Users work up from the lowest level: a three-minute guided meditation in which a trainer talks them through the principles and techniques of the art. Meditations slowly get longer and come with less assistance, eventually working up to a 20-minute session. The app also includes a journal to document one’s progress and daily quotes to keep users inspired and teach them aspects of meditation.

While Varin was participating in the Sunstone CSU Startup Launch and looking for additional funding from the cash prizes, the Unwind-Meditation Trainer app has already materialized and is expected to be released to App Stores in July.

Three other teams at the challenge were led by students or recent graduates of CSULB hoping for a chance to win part of the event’s $130,000 prize pool. One of those was PAVANAS, a project that looks to tackle the shortcomings of the wind energy industry through the production of turbine blades that are more efficient and last longer than what is standard today.

Both PAVANAS and Unwind-Meditation Trainer received $5,000 as a reward for their third place finish in their respective tracks at the contest. Two other CSULB teams participated in the event, and were formally recognized along with teams from other campuses that did not place.

Classchat—an app specifically designed to help facilitate communication between students, teachers, and faculty—was recognized for being the only team at the event consisting entirely of undergraduates, led by CSULB student Emanuel Tafese.

The app was designed to be more secure than commonly used alternatives like Slack and Discord by using Google Accounts to sign into the application. This feature not only makes the platform more secure by tying login information to Google, it also makes it easier and more convenient to use.

The award for the most innovative concept was given to the final CSULB team, which pitched a financial app and website concept called Unstockable. This app was designed out of a need to simplify jargon and remove language barriers for many financial activities to give young adults a tool they can use to learn how to invest.

Unstockable gives users easily accessible and understandable financial information and resources in a centralized platform. The app will also look to direct users to tools from partnered financial institutions to ensure they are getting the proper tools and guidance they need.

Classchat and Unstockable each received $1,000 for their entries in the contest.

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