The Growth Mindset [VIDEO]

A couple of months ago I was chatting with the founder of the Center for Entrepreneurship, Dr. Michael Ames. As happens when you talk with a bright individual like him the conversation quickly shifted into one about ideas, which is fine by me. By the end of our talk, Dr. Ames recommended a couple of books that I should read, including Carol Dweck’s “The Growth Mindset”.

While I haven’t read the book yet (Dr. Ames, I promise I will read it!) I have watched the Google Talk she gave about her book from earlier this year. Dr. Dweck is an engaging speaker and she eloquently conveys her ideas and findings during the course of her talk. Here’s how Google summarized her talk:

“You’re so talented!”, “You are gifted – a natural!”, “You’re doing so well in school, you must be really smart!” – children receive these messages (or their negative counterparts), along with many other messages on a daily basis from their peers, parents and teachers. Are these just words or do they mean more? How are children affected by the words we use to praise, coach and criticize them?

Meet Stanford University’s Professor Dr. Carol S. Dweck to learn more about her fascinating research into “self-conceptions (or mindsets) people use to structure the self and guide their behavior”, and how you can apply a Growth Mindset at home, at school and in your career.

The talk is a little over 45 minutes but I think it is well worth watching.

Financing the Startup – CSUF Startup Incubator Event

Click to RSVP For the Financing the Startup Event

Click to RSVP For the Financing the Startup Event

Whenever we host an event at the CSUF Startup Incubator our goal is to educate all in attendance. After working with entrepreneurs for years I can safely say that the area of raising investment capital is one of those areas that entrepreneurs need the most education on.

Many of the entrepreneurs I have talked with think that they need to get funded by an Angel or a VC before they can start their company. That’s absolutely true for some companies and other companies will need investments along the way to fund growth. But the vast (vast, vast, vast, vast, vast…) majority of companies do not receive funding from Angels or VCs. As Director Jackson would put it, “That’s rarefied air.” That’s certainly true.

So, what is a budding entrepreneur to do? Fear not, we’re hosting an event this Wednesday at 6pm at the Incubator in Placentia that deals with this subject. Titled “Financing the Startup” (I think someone thought that it sounded like the movie title “Romancing the Stone” and that similarity was funny), Director John Bradley Jackson will give an overview of the financing landscape for startup entrepreneurs and provide some insights into how best to raise money.

This event, like all of our others (so far… we have to put that little bit in there for legal reasons, I think) will be free. Come and join us and maybe you’ll learn how to fund your startup! What do you have to lose?


More info on CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship:


More info on CSUF Startup Incubator:

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CSUF Startup Incubator Presentations


We just finished another exciting round of investor pitch walkthroughs today with three of our CSUF Startup Incubator‘s residents. Each of these residents have been incubating here for about half a year now and they have made some amazing progress. Each of these presentations followed the basic investor pitch formulation: 15 minutes presentation, 15 minutes of Q&A, PowerPoint presentation, etc.

Some pictures of today’s events can be seen below and if you are looking for a way to jumpstart your business take a gander at what the CSUF Startup Incubator has to offer by going here.


CSUF Entrepreneurship Teaches Kids STEM and Lean Startup

Amerika Bernal CSUF Student

CSUF Entrepreneurship student, Amerika Bernal, along with a consortium of CSUF executives, directors, professors, and other students helped teach middle school children about Entrepreneurship and STEM.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, Center for Entrepreneurship Director John Bradley Jackson, CSUF Entrepreneurship students Amerika Bernal and Monica Mercado, along with other contributors from the CSUF community have been teaching seventh- and eighth-grade students students STEM and entrepreneurial lessons. These students recently completed their year long program where they learned the technical and emotional skills necessary to succeed in a startup and in the executive suite.

Over the course of the school year these students learned many things, including:

  • How to develop a minimal viable product (MVP)
  • The iterative lean startup methodology for starting a business or project
  • How to give a compelling fast pitch; a one minute long talk that sells your business concept to an investor/partner
  • Why failing fast and being able to pivot are so important for all businesses

This year’s program culminated in a massive, district-wide event that was part celebration, part inspirational talking, and part science/business fair. Many of the students who participated in this program were in attendance showing off their business ideas to the gathered masses. A few of the more intrepid students even gave sixty second fast pitches, or, more informally, a short exegesis about about their business idea. Certificates were awarded and everyone in attendance seemed to really enjoy themselves.

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Amerika Bernal, one of the student-teachers in this program, had this to say about her experience:
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CSUF Entrepreneurship Alumni Wins Fast Pitch Competition

CSUF Entrepreneurship Alum, John Chi, accepting his prize at a recent fast pitch competition. Good job John!!!

CSUF Entrepreneurship Alum, John Chi, accepting his prize at a recent fast pitch competition. Good job John!!!

This story is a bit old but we’d still like to take the time to recognize John Chi for yet another great achievement. Earlier this year, he participated and won the Funding the Big Idea 2015 competition. Hosted by TriTech, Funding the Big Idea is part competition and part symposium on how startups can raise capital. John faced 40 tough challengers at this competition. From John:

Funding the Big Idea definitely lived up to its name! It was a tremendous opportunity to interact directly with experienced investors and experts in alternative funding sources and to be able to learn from them.  It’s so inspiring to meet so many fellow entrepreneurs sharing their passion, ideas and stories all in one place – and to reconnect with familiar faces still going strong!  Everyone was so helpful and supportive.  I’m so grateful to leave FTBI with so many new friends and connections.  Many many thanks, TriTech!

John’s business is called Synova Life Sciences and he has wowed entrepreneurs and investors with his idea. Synova Life Sciences is a biotech company that is in the process of developing adult stem cell therapies to help people with arthritis and other chronic illnesses. Finishing in first place at the 2013 Business Plan competition and in second place at the first Titan Fast Pitch competition John has steadily developed his idea into the startup that it has become.

Here’s a video chronicling some of the talks at the Funding the Big Idea 2015 event (sorry, it doesn’t look like any of the fast pitches made it into the video but there’s still a lot of quality content there):

Job Opening: Snap Fitness

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To apply for this position, please send your resume to or call Tom at 949.709.3736

CSUF Entrepreneurship Director on what Cities are best for Startups

CSUF Director John Bradley Jackson Teaching

Center for Entrepreneurship and CSUF Startup Incubator Director John Bradley Jackson recently spoke about what is important for startups. Based off of the title of this post, the answer shouldn’t surprise you in the least.

“Geographic location is vital to entrepreneurs, for access to investors, talent, advisers and the presence of other startups, which act to stimulate one another,” Jackson says. Yet while location is an important factor for success, Jackson contends that the entrepreneur’s personal characteristics are the greatest predictors of success. “The character, ‘coach ability’ and commitment of the entrepreneur trump everything else,” he says.

To read more about what Director JJ has to say please go to the original story here:

I should also note that if you are thinking about starting your own business you should seriously consider applying to become a resident in our CSUF Startup Incubator. You’ll get access to many wonderful mentors, one of which will be specifically assigned to you, get the chance to participate in many talks, and, after about six months, you should be much further along your entrepreneurial journey than you were when you started.

The application process is simple and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch with me (I’m Travis by the way and you can email me at or any of the other members of the CSUF Startup Incubator, like Director Jackson or Phillip Stinis.

Phillip Stinis – CSUF Startup Incubator Entrepreneur in Residence

Phillip Stinis '11 MBAIn January 2015, California State University Fullerton (CSUF) opened the CSUF Startup Incubator in Placentia. As the Entrepreneur in Residence, I have the pleasure of working with our startups firsthand while growing the Incubator as a startup itself. For those who haven’t heard yet, the CSUF Startup Incubator is looking to take highly scalable, early stage startups with innovative business models to their next phase within their 6 months of residency. Once accepted, residents are assigned a mentor and together we develop a custom road map, making sure we provide excellent value and services to our residents. The mentors are usually veteran entrepreneurs who have had experience in raising capital and selling off their business, which is the ultimate goal for our Incubator. The best parts of what makes the CSUF Incubator an excellent choice will become obvious soon, but first it is important to understand why and how CSUF does this.

The College of Business and Economics is home to the nation’s second largest undergraduate enrollment in business, according to the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business. CSUF is the largest school in Orange County by student body population and the graduate program in Information Technology is ranked No. 5 nationally by U.S. News and World Report. These are some impressive statistics that make having an Incubator the next logical step for the school’s top quality graduates. While stats are not enough, the culture at CSUF is ripe and forward thinking; most professors I spoke with wanted to get involved and they also encouraged their current students to apply.

Outlining these impressive credentials is important for understanding the big value proposition – Incubator residents are able to leverage the University’s resources. That means world-class student consulting teams can be utilized to do market research, the mechanical engineering lab space and 3D printers can be used to make prototypes, and some of the brightest University professors are either mentoring or overseeing the process. Our Incubator is led by Professor John Jackson, Director for Center for Entrepreneurship and the Small Business Institute at CSUF. In addition to being a 13 year Professor of Entrepreneurship, he is a veteran entrepreneur himself with several years of industry experience from Silicon Valley. Delivering his presentation on Business Plans at the Incubator in an intimate setting was definitely a great value for our residents; however, the teaching doesn’t stop there. Every week we have guest speakers come down and talk to our residents – from Business Attorneys to Angel Investors and Bankers, we are doing everything we can to give our residents the best preparation for success.

As a former Electrical Engineer who has over 10 years of Aerospace and Defense experience and an MBA from CSUF, I really enjoy cultivating the startup environment because it brings out a burning passion in the entrepreneur to create a business from just a simple idea. Now that we have all the elements aligned for success, I am excited to create a culture of inclusion where the best ideas can be fostered and developed. Since we are an after-hours Incubator versus a traditional Incubator (meaning our residents still can work on their startup business while keeping their day job), we are going to be creating a fun atmosphere where creativity can thrive. Stay tuned for night time activities that will attract talented students to both help our residents and come up with their own ideas through our stimulating environment. I can’t disclose our future plans just yet, but I can tell you we are making the Incubator a place I would love to be a part of as an entrepreneur and you should come down to check it out for yourself, it’s guaranteed to be a stimulating experience!

For additional information on how to apply, please contact Phillip Stinis at or visit the Incubator’s website at

A CSUF Student-Entrepreneur’s Charitable Startup

Garage GainsLast week I had the pleasure of meeting Kaylyn Donohue ’16 at one of our CSUF Startup Incubator events. Kaylyn is one of our bright student-entrepreneurs and she recently tested out her minimum viable product (MVP) for her concept Garage Gains.

Unlike other garage sales, Garage Gains did not put price tags on any of their items being sold. Instead, business and entrepreneurship students in charge of the sale, told people to pay what they wanted to donate to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County.

“We really just encouraged people to pay the price that they felt was justified to give back to children’s hospital,” said Kaylyn Donohue, 21, pursuing a minor in business entrepreneurship. “At first we were thinking about giving set prices but a lot of people were actually willing to pay a little bit more through that donation request.”

As part of a community outreach project, seven Cal State Fullerton students worked to partner with the children’s hospital to develop a non-profit organization—based on the concept of a garage sale. Now, with the help of generous donations and a unique pricing system, Garage Gains is working to help communities around the nation.

Source: A Garage Sale for the Community and Charity

Click on the link above to read the rest of this story and go to Garage Gain’s Facebook Page to see when they are planning on bringing their charity garage sales to your neck of the woods.

2015 CSUF Business Plan Competition

Well over 100 people attended this year’s CSUF Business Plan Competition and Innovation Exhibition. It was great seeing all of the creative things that CSUF students are doing and to help three businesses out by awarding them seed funding for their fledgling businesses.

Well over 100 people attended this year’s CSUF Business Plan Competition and Innovation Exhibition. It was great seeing all of the creative things that CSUF students are doing and to help three businesses out by awarding them seed funding for their fledgling businesses.

We just completed the fourth annual CSUF Business Plan Competition Finals yesterday and we are excited to say that this one was spectacular! Approximately 150 people attended this year’s event including CSUF students, alumni, faculty, staff, community members, and a group of middle school students that the Center for Entrepreneurship has been mentoring in the areas of Entrepreneurship and STEM. We started the day off by showcasing a collection of innovative projects and businesses that CSUF students and community members are working on and finished with presentations from the finalists in our CSUF Business Plan Competition. All of the Finalists did superb jobs presenting their respective business ideas (Judge France Helfer noted that it was an extremely close vote) and we were ecstatic at how well the Innovation Exhibition, something we had never done before, went.

Starting at noon in the Titan Student Union’s Pavilion A, we launched our first ever Innovation Exhibition. The idea behind this exhibition was to promote our most creative students, alumni, and community members to as wide of an audience as we could muster. Many groups participated in the Innovation Exhibition including:

One of the cool exhibitors was our drone team and they were able to have one of their quad copters fly at the event.

The Center for Entrepreneurship would not have been able to pull off this exhibition without the help of Titan Innovation and Sigma Upsilon Mu (the CSUF Entrepreneurship fraternity/sorority on campus). In particular, Amerika Bernal, Andre Conde (who won last year’s CSUF Business Plan Competition), Cristian Sanchez, Miguel Olivares, and Lorenzo Santos were instrumental in making this event a success.

A little after 1pm we started the main attraction: the CSUF Business Plan Competition Finals. This year we welcomed:

  • Exo Assistive Technologies with their concept of a backpack that aids people with disabilities and the elderly in lifting everyday items that most of us take for granted. Their team was headed by CSUF engineering student Trevor McLeran and a group of business students from Sigm Upsilon Mu including: Dan Nannery, Jessica Bonilla, and Nick Sieverson.
  • Arrow Cone was the second business presented. Phillipe Rodriguez did an excellent job of presenting his idea for a cone that is shaped like an arrow. The idea is that these kinds of cones will help youth sports coaches train their student athletes. Setting Phillipe apart was that he has some solid connections in the industry and his background makes him a good candidate for making a business like this successful.
  • Finally, CSUF Startup Incubator resident Mike Kirtland presented his business concept OneMessageID. His idea is to connect neighbors in the offline world online but, instead of trying to explain his idea myself I’ll let his video do that:

All of the presentations were great, which made it tough for judges Shari Rudolph, France Helfer, Michael Sawitz, and Dan Black but they were able to come to a consensus: Mike Kirtland’s OneMessageID finished in first place followed by Arrow Cone in second and Exo Assistive Technologies in third. Each Finalist received cash prizes and in-kind services to help them seed their fledgling businesses. We hope that they go on to do great things with their businesses in the future.

Hosting one of these events is quite the task but looking at all of the excitement from the crowd and the participants along with the knowledge that the awards given will go to advance entrepreneurial activities makes it all worth it. The 2015 competition is over but we are planning on hosting another Titan Fast Pitch Competition during the Fall Semester. If you are interested in seeing what the previous CSUF Business Plan Competitions were like we covered them in:

Whether you participate as a competitor, an Innovation Exhibitor, or as a member of the audience we sincerely hope to see you at next years’ competition.


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Event: CSUF Business Plan Competition Finals

CSUF Entrepreneurship

The CSUF Business Plan Competition Finals are just a couple days away (April 7 from noon to 3pm to be exact) and I hope that you are able to attend. (RSVP now!)

From noon to 1pm we will be hosting our first Innovator Exhibition where we will showcase some of the creative things our students, alumni, and other community members are doing. Some of the exhibitors who are scheduled to attend include:

  • Our UAV team with their drone that has an eight foot wingspan
  • Our rover team that has created a rover that is very similar to the one currently tooling around on Mars
  • One of our finalists, Exo Assistive Technologies, will be showcasing their invention that assists senior citizens and the physically disabled in lifting common items
  • Our friends from SCORE will be there to promote their wonderful services
  • Our Entrepreneurship Alumni group will also have a representative showcasing his business

There are more and you might not have enough time to view them all if you arrive late so make sure to arrive as early as possible!

Immediately following the Innovator Exhibition we will commence with the CSUF Business Plan Competition Finals presentations. As was the case during the first three years of the CSUF Business Plan Competition we have three amazing finalists.

The previously mentioned Exo Assistive Technologies will be presenting their invention that will make it possible for senior citizens and the physically disabled to accomplish normal tasks that most of us take for granted.

OneMessageID is a company that plans on giving every residential and commercial property an online identity whereby the residents can interact with their local community on an online platform. This idea takes aim at servicing the local market unlike any other solution currently available and it is the type of audacious thinking that convinced us to welcome it into our CSUF Startup Incubator.

Arrow Cone is the brainchild of one of our students who is a soccer coach, CSUF Entrepreneurship fraternity/sorority leader, and Dan Black Scholar in Physics and Business. It’s such a deceptively simple idea that there is a good chance that it will become a ubiquitous training device for youth sports in the near future.

We are all very excited to be hosting the fourth CSUF Business Plan Competition Finals on Tuesday, April 7 from noon to 3pm in the Titan Student Union’s Pavilion A. (RSVP now!!!) If you have the time we would love to have you join us in support of our wonderful student-entrepreneurs.

One last thing: If you have the ability we would immensely appreciate it if you could donate some funds to support our efforts to educate and promote the next generation of entrepreneurs. Click here to donate.

Insurance at a Startup with Jerry Conrey

We haven’t written nearly enough about all of the great things that are happening at the CSUF Startup Incubator. Every week we have a different speaker in to talk about their area of expertise, our residents are there launching their businesses, students are coming together to be innovative, and our alumni entrepreneurs have monthly meetings to help each other be better business owners. It’s frequently a lively scene!

Recently, Jerry Conrey, owner of Conrey Insurance Brokers and Risk Managers and mentor/donor to the Center for Entrepreneurship/CSUF Startup Incubator/SBI,  gave a talk about the importance of insurance to startups. As it turns out, new ventures need insurance just as much as any other business.

If you’ve been wondering about what are the different dangers that your startup should be insuring against then you should watch the video below. Some of the topics covered include:

  • Product liability
  • Errors and Omissions
  • General liability
  • Auto liability
  • And a ton of other areas

(Thanks to Gary Nouskajian from Mr. Conrey’s company for taking this video)

We have been hosting these events pretty much every week since the start of the CSUF Startup Incubator and we have no plans of slowing down anytime soon. If you are interested in attending any of our free events please take a look at all of the events we have (most are at the Incubator) HERE.


More info on CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship:


More info on CSUF Startup Incubator:

Come join us at an event:


CSUF Business Consulting in Orange County Sparks Innovation

Charlesetta Medina helps business students

The Center for Entrepreneurship’s Small Business Institute has been at the forefront of innovation in the Orange County market for decades. Every year, we place student teams with local companies to help spur business innovation in marketing, sales, finance, operations, and leadership. These teams of mostly graduating seniors are paired with mentors from the private sector and their professors and they end up having a huge economic impact not only for the businesses that they do consulting projects for but for the region as well.

Recently, Ms. Charlesetta Medina, Manager with the Small Business Institute, was interviewed by the Daily Titan about how we’re able to help local businesses. Here is a taste of what was in the story:

The SBI is a national non-profit organization in its 39th year of business. The center is part of the 14 Centers of Excellence within the Steven G. Mihaylo College of Business and Economics and a program for entrepreneurship.

“We’re a very tiny center but we do make a huge economic impact,” Medina said. “So when you talk about the value for small businesses in our local economy, it’s key.”

That’s what’s really began to turn our economy, is the ability for those small businesses to have held on and still allow for new ones to emerge, Medina said.

Medina reaches out directly by mail to nearly 20,000 local businesses. Then she takes those responses and figures out, “is (SBI) a benefit to them.”

The students involved in SBI take on about 40 small businesses per semester and close to 100 businesses a year.

“They get to work in a team environment, with support and resources from the center, from mentors and from faculty,” Medina said. “And they’re able to bring that really fresh perspective to businesses, many of whom may have been in business for a number of years and they feel like they know their business very well.”

Yet, the generation of students now are able to bring new insight and a new perspective on how to do some of those same tasks, in new and innovative ways that helps that business, Medina said.

To read the rest of the story please click here.

Wouldn’t you like to have this kind of work done for your company? Maybe you know of a company that would benefit from our services. Either way, if you are interested in our services please contact Ms. Charlesetta Medina at 657 278 3464 or by email  at to find out more about our program.

Casting Call for the Investment Club

Are you an entrepreneur that has ever considered being on television? Well, then, you must read the following then:

The Casting Firm, Oxygen & FremantleMedia (American Idol, America’s Got Talent), along with a team of investors and self-made moguls, are on a nationwide search to discover the nation’s most brilliant entrepreneurs!
  • Do you have an innovative business concept, product, invention, or startup company – but you need financial backing and guidance to jumpstart your venture?
  • Does your product or business have potential to be the next million or billion-dollar idea?
  • Are you an aspiring entrepreneur with a brilliant new product line or concept but you need an angel investor to help get it off the ground or take it to the next level?
“THE INVESTMENT CLUB” is an exciting new entrepreneurial series that will feature passionate millennials ready to make their mark in entrepreneurial history, give them the opportunity to pitch their concept to some of the country’s most successful business leaders, and showcase their company or product in front of millions!

If selected, our team of self-made moguls will mentor and guide you along the way!

Whether you have a start up, an operating business, or just a fantastic prototype and business plan, we want to hear from you!

  • Full name 
  • Age (must be 18+)
  • Phone number & email address
  • City/State you live in
  • A brief description of your business or product
  • Photos and/or links to your product or business
  • A photo of yourself
  • Why do you think you’d be great for the show?
***All applicants must be legal US residents.

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CSUF Entrepreneur Society: Pauline Nguyen

Pauline Nguyen is the owner of online beauty boutique West Side Annex and a leader of the CSUF Entrepreneur Society

Pauline Nguyen is the owner of online beauty boutique West Side Annex and a leader of the CSUF Entrepreneur Society

The oldest entrepreneurship club at Cal State Fullerton is the Entrepreneur Society and they are doing an amazing series of posts featuring one of their student-entrepreneurs in each post called 10 for 10. One of the recent stories featured Pauline Nguyen, who has served as the club’s president and continues to be a leader for the Entrepreneur Society.

Pauline is the sole force behind an online beauty boutique called West Side Annex, which is an online retailer of fine accessories for free-spirited young women that Pauline tirelessly curates. This is no mean feat as it requires Pauline to manage the site, market her style in a crowded market, procure all of the merchandise, manage the finances of her company, and everything else.

Pauline has some poignant advice for others who are considering an entrepreneurial path:

It’s imperative to not be afraid of getting out there and putting forth the time and effort to achieve your goals.

At the Center for Entrepreneurship, we frequently have students come in seeking guidance about how to be a successful entrepreneur and what Pauline said is, in a nutshell, the crux of being a good entrepreneur. Part of it is having a good idea, a solid team, knowledge, and all the rest but what seems to separate the wheat from the chafe is tenacity; the tenacity to see an idea through to the end and being willing to outwork your competitors.

We are proud to say that we have worked closely with Pauline on many projects and knowing what her work ethic is like we know that you can learn a lot from her as an entrepreneur and as a person. For more information on what it takes to do what Pauline does please take a look at the Entrepreneur Society’s writeup on her venture.