Employer Panel: So You Wanna Start a Business?

Date: Wednesday, October 22nd
Time: 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Location: SGMH 3230

Come here from successful entrepreneurs on how to start, manage, and run your own business. Learn from those that have been there to gain some advice, lessons, and tips to take you where you want to go!

Panelists:

Diana Ho

CSUF Entrepreneurship Alumna Diana Ho '13

CSUF Entrepreneurship Alumna Diana Ho ’13

Founder of Diana Ho designs, an online jewelry retailer. Diana is a CSUF Alumni (and a self-taught designer) with dual business degrees in entrepreneurship and marketing.

Carey Ransom

CMO of Payoff, a technology enabled consumer-focused financial services company. Carey is an experienced Internet and software entrepreneur and executive, having started, grown and aided many technology companies during their startup and growth phases. Carey is an industry innovator and has spoken at software, search, and online media conferences such as INBOX, The BIA/Kelsey Group, OMMA, and the Search Insider Summit. Carey’s expertise is identifying new partnership and revenue opportunities, product and technology initiatives, and creating and leveraging market trends.

 

Yelp – The Ugly

141020 Yelp LogoIn previous posts (Yelp – The Good and Yelp – The Bad), my co-authors and I discussed the value and challenges of Yelp for business owners. However, due to Yelp’s immense popularity, it has effectively become the go-to source for all kinds of reviews. Businesses see significant declines in revenue if their Yelp ratings decrease. And with this dominance comes some serious problems.

Yelp has become a cesspool of fake comments – a far cry from their original marketing slogan of “real people, real reviews.” It has become common for people to post negative and false comments. For example, the Yelp page for a local middle eastern restaurant contained two posts by people who claimed that the cooks there were doing things that were extremely unsanitary. After digging a bit deeper, it was clear these reviews were fake, as both reviewers had fake photos and had only posted a single review using their Yelp accounts. Worse, the reviews had racist undertones. In another case, a number of Yelpers wrote negative reviews for a Florida restaurant after President Obama visited there.

While fake reviews diminish the value proposition of Yelp (“to connect people with great local businesses”), what’s worse is when the business owners try to control their Yelp profiles. Some restaurant owners do it by posting signs like this: If you like us, please go on yelp and write a review. If you don’t like us, then don’t do anything! Ha-ha. Other business owners make business decisions based on what is needed to keep their Yelp rating strong. When trying to organize a farewell lunch for colleagues who were leaving, the owner of a local restaurant told us that he could not accommodate our large party because it would mean that other patrons would have to wait to be seated. He went on to say that if people have to wait, they go on Yelp and write negative reviews.

But these tactics seem harmless compared to what some other business owners do in order to influence their Yelp rating: they bully users by suing them. While the chances of a business owner prevailing in such a suit are slim, some do it simply as a scare tactic. Businesses send out cease-and-desist letters threatening to sue the reviewers for hundreds of thousands of dollars unless they remove the review.

With Yelp’s tremendous success comes a terrible dark side. Fake reviews diminish the site’s value and cause real economic harm. Lawsuits and bullying by business owners arguably cause even more harm because they reduce the likelihood that people will even write reviews. And if users stop writing reviews, there’s little reason for anyone to use Yelp.

Written by Dr. Atul Teckchandani

Note: This is the third and last post in a series of posts about the importance of Yelp and other review sites and how entrepreneurs can manage their presence on these sites in a manner that increases their firm’s reputation and sales. It was authored by Dr. Atul Teckchandani, Assistant Professor of Management at the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, California State University, Fullerton.

Yelp Series:

Yelp – The Good

Yelp – The Bad

Titan Fast Pitch Competition

Register for the Titan Fast Pitch Competition by clicking on this picture

Register for the Titan Fast Pitch Competition by clicking on this picture

Clear your calendar – It’s going down! The Titan Fast Pitch Competition kicks off Saturday November 8th, 2014 and you’re invited! Watch the hottest student-entrepreneurs compete for a spot on the winner’s podium, and their share of scholarships. All finalists are chosen in real time, by the crowd, via mobile phone. Students that survive, endure the Lightning Round: an accelerated Q/A panel, administered by Distinguished Judges.

We are looking for every university and high school student in the state of California who has an ounce of entrepreneurial blood coursing through their veins to enter this competition. If you are currently a student and you have an idea for the next great business, big or small, you owe it to yourself to test your mettle at this competition. Unlike similar competitions, the Titan Fast Pitch offers an extremely supportive atmosphere to all contestants because we realize that the more people who are successful in entrepreneurial endeavors the better it is for everyone.

At its essence, this competition is looking for bright ideas that have the potential to improve the world. Each competitor is given one minute, just 60 seconds, to explain what their idea is to our panel of judges and to the audience. Broken into university and high school tracks, everyone who competes in this first round is scored by our panel of distinguished judges and the audience (which I am sure will be a distinguished group in their own right).

The top three competitors from each track will advance to the lightning round, which, as alluded to above, is a fast paced question and answer affair that delves into the bonafides of each finalist. This round is all about determining which competitor’s idea is truly the best.

Every finalist will receive scholarship money to further their education as a student-entrepreneur and the high school students will receive something extra (iPod Nanos). This experience is a net positive for all who participate, though, because every competitor gets the opportunity to express their entrepreneurial creativity in front of a crowd of like-minded individuals and we believe that the possibilities are endless when you get as many people as we are expecting to attend this event together in one location.

The Titan Fast Pitch is going to take place on November 8 in Anaheim and we hope that every California student-entrepreneur with a passion for creating will attend. For more information and to RSVP for this event please go to the Titan Fast Pitch site (if you want to compete you must RSVP for this event). All of the rules are available on the site along with the questions that will be asked during the Lightning Round. Every competitor must bring a valid student ID in order to compete.

Follow all of the Titan Fast Pitch’s developments on this site and use the hash tag #TitanFastPitch to search for updated content or when posting. Good luck everyone!

Why I Majored in Entrepreneurship at CSUF: Sam Lee ’14

CSUF Entrepreneurship alum Sam Lee '14 accepting an award from the Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship John Bradley Jackson

CSUF Entrepreneurship alum Sam Lee ’14 accepting an award from the Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship John Bradley Jackson

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling, but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it” – Albert Einstein

“There is only one road to human greatness: through the school of hard knocks” – Albert Einstein

“For without struggle, there is no progress” – Frederick Douglas

With these three quotes, I have described our entire Entrepreneurship program. Instead of memorizing or simply regurgitating lectures and textbook business theories, students in our program have the opportunity to face the real business world in a hands-on, yet safe learning environment.

The real business world is tough. One must deal with many different types of individuals and situations, so learning to embrace uncomfortableness becomes imperative to success. This could mean overcoming the uneasiness of giving presentations to a panel of businessmen, approaching strangers, or simply making cold calls to sell your product or service.

Many of the things that you must learn in business are intangible and even more incomprehensive in texts. Often times, textbook examples do not impact students as effectively as hands-on experience in which students can directly apply business concepts and practices to a real-time problem. By introducing real problems in a university environment, students get to absorb all the benefits of struggling to learn without the financial or personal liability of being a business owner.

It is almost like a fast track route for students because the program allows them to gain tremendous experience in a condensed amount of time. With the professors and mentors putting the struggles into perspective, all the opposition that students face both internally and externally becomes valuable stories and learning experiences.

Every life and business lesson that students learn individually becomes planted as a seed in their minds. As students finish their business school process and enter the real world, they will be surprised to learn that the answers they came up with in class are also applicable to their personal business problems. The decision-making process that students learn in class will become second nature to them as they continue to apply those lessons outside of class. Essentially, these business decisions become a product of who they are and what they have learned and accomplished. Whereas those who did not gain the same learning experiences will not understand the decision-making process or perspectives used to come up with the appropriate solutions.

Another quote that comes to mind is the Proverbs written by King David, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” More so than knowing what to do, I believe the true value of the program derives from how we look at the world and what kind of person we should be if we want to become successful. The words “baring,” “passion,” “initiative,” “relentless,” and “resilience” all comes to mind when I look back on the pattern of stories that were shared as inspiration.

Professors and mentors provide valuable insight towards real world business problems. They are not here to interfere, but to help guide students to their own innovative and creative solutions. The network and exposure that Entrepreneur students learn from is truly an advantage over other business students. While our peers master their craft in finance, marketing or management, Entrepreneurs are mentored to become leaders among men in the cut throat arena of business. Our students are challenged to change their prior perspectives and redefine goals to learn exactly what it takes to become successful and how, such as learning to utilize resources or connecting with the right individuals.

Our program has ignited a learning revolution in which students tackle real problems that were originally believed to have no remedy. By applying the theories of leadership, management and communication, the entrepreneurs at Cal State Fullerton bring innovation and a real actionable solution for their clients.

If there was a business school with the sole goal of producing job makers and philanthropic leaders, it would be the Entrepreneurship program at Cal State Fullerton.

Many thanks to Mr. Lee for sharing this awesome testimonial of our program with us.

If you are interested in learning about how you can study Entrepreneurship like Sam please head on over to our website to learn what it takes to matriculate at CSUF.

On the other hand, if you have already completed your schooling and you are interested in aiding the development of student-entrepreneurs like Jennifer please get in touch with us by sending an email to csufentrepreneurship@fullerton.edu and we will be happy to explain how you can become a mentor in our classrooms, a guest speaker and how you can become a client of our Student-led Business Consulting Program, which provides our student-entrepreneurs with invaluable real-life experience and our clients with cutting-edge insights into how they can improve their business in a number of areas.

CSUF Entrepreneur Success Story: Jennifer Barber ’14

Jennifer Barber Web optimized

CSUF Entrepreneurship alum Jennifer Barber ’14 has taken her many entrepreneurial skills to China for a year to teach English to Chinese children

It has been a little under five months since I took my final steps as an undergraduate student at CSUF. The first word that comes to mind when I think of my experience as a Titan is “perfect”. Now, I certainly don’t mean that in a conventional way; we all know that if you have any fun at all, there are some nights where you and “perfect” couldn’t be bigger strangers. By “perfect” I mean that, because of that time, I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now.

Where does a twenty-two year old college graduate with an entrepreneurship degree go? I went to Beijing, China to teach English for a year. You might ask, “Why aren’t you applying to big companies at home or starting your own business?” I would say, “Who says I have to do it now?”

I have a couple of reasons why I chose China. First, I like to be a little unconventional; I don’t like to feel “comfortable” for too long. Second, my passion is to serve others.

It has officially been a month since I moved from sunny Southern California to this booming metropolis of over twenty-one million people. The first several days I ate instant ramen because I couldn’t order food (I don’t speak Mandarin at all). The first week I got on the wrong subway or bus at least once a day. Yesterday, the smog got so bad that they call it an “air apocalypse”. I also had serious doubts that I would be able to teach a two hour class of four year olds and keep them from running loose or crying their eyes out.

What have I learned so far? We all adapt to our habitats.

Despite the initial culture shock, Beijing has been nothing short of amazing. Here, you can find beautiful parks nestled amongst giant skyscrapers. Ancient palaces are just a short walk from the subway station. On Sundays, I wake up to the sound of beautiful Chinese instrumentals and little old ladies doing tai chi in my courtyard.

As for the food, I can now successfully order a dish with a few simple phrases. I’m a pro at navigating the subway system and can get from point A to point B without getting lost. Although the smog holds its presence, there are some days where the sky could not be more blue and beautiful. Finally, teaching is not so scary. In fact, there is nothing more precious than a student giving you a high-five after they have given you the right answer.

I have no idea what to expect in the coming year, but I couldn’t be more excited. While CSUF taught me how to be a business professional, it, more importantly, taught me to also be a well-rounded individual and a citizen of the world. Because of that, I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Many thanks to Dr. Atul Teckchandani for providing us with this post written by Ms. Barber.

If you are interested in learning about how you can study Entrepreneurship and make a difference in the world like Jennifer please head on over to our website to learn what it takes to matriculate at CSUF.

On the other hand, if you have already completed your schooling and you are interested in aiding the development of student-entrepreneurs like Jennifer please get in touch with us by sending an email to csufentrepreneurship@fullerton.edu and we will be happy to explain how you can become a mentor in our classrooms, a guest speaker and how you can become a client of our Student-led Business Consulting Program, which provides our student-entrepreneurs with invaluable real-life experience and our clients with cutting-edge insights into how they can improve their business in a number of areas.

CSUF Center for Innovation

CSUF Center for Innovation Founders Tour The group that toured the CSUF Center for Innovation's first location in Placentia poses for a picture while Director John Bradley Jackson holds up the signed lease.   From L to R: Dr. Robert Kovacev (Professor, CSUF Entrepreneurship), Robert Koch (Dean, College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics), Jeff Longshaw (Professor, CSUF Entrepreneurship), John Bradley Jackson (Director, Center for Entrepreneurship and Center for Innovation & Professor, CSUF Entrepreneurship), Bob Godlasky (Business Advisor, SCORE), Wally Hicks (President, Affluent Target Marketing), France Helfer (Entrepreneur), Tom Miller (Professor, CSUF Entrepreneurship), Raj Manek (VP International Sales, Vesuki, Inc.), Phillip Stinis (Director of Business Development, Skytypers), Ken Guchereau (Owner, Guchereau Company), Zack Dafaallah (Professor, CSUF Entrepreneurship) & Dr. Mike Ames (Chairman of the Board, CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship).

CSUF Center for Innovation Founders Tour

The Daily Titan’s Cesar Gamboa has published a nice piece about our new center called the Center for Innovation. Spearheaded by Director John Bradley Jackson and Chairman of the Board Mike Ames, the Center for Innovation (CFI) will serve as a business incubator to the extended CSUF community. The first outpost for the CFI will be in Placentia thanks to our partnership with that city.

The way the CFI will work is that once a business has been accepted they will be able to utilize the business services at the physical location, get access to the CFI’s network of mentors and receive customized help from the CFI. From acceptance to launch each business will “incubate” for approximately six months and then they will have hopefully created a strong enough foundation for themselves (maybe through funding or through enough sales) that they will be able to flourish on their own.

Here’s a bit from Gamboa’s piece titled “Center for Innovation to help Future Entrepreneurs“:

In addition to the resources provided by the incubator, Jackson plans to help students develop their ideas by providing guidance from veteran coaches and helping them to set milestones for the developing concepts.

The incubator has already begun attracting attention, Jackson said.

“We already have people knocking on our door”, he said. “We’ve had a faculty member come forward with an interesting application. We have an engineering student who has a device.”

The center’s steering committee will be composed of Center for Entrepreneurship board members, community members and CSUF alumni. The committee will include alumnus Dan Black, a 1967 graduate and major donor.

As part of the center’s efforts to reflect the entrepreneurial spirit, each idea will receive a customized process to help it get off the ground, Jackson said.

“We’re looking for entrepreneurs with character and ethics because that’s consistent with the goals of the university,” Jackson said. “We’ll do a detailed interview that helps us determine, not only the fit within the incubator, but his or her needs and how we might help them. So it’s like a custom support structure.”

If you are interested in learning more about the Center for Innovation (including how to apply) please contact John Bradley Jackson at jjackson@fullerton.edu or at (657) 278-8413.

[Picture Credits: CSUF Center for Innovation Founders Tour

The group that toured the CSUF Center for Innovation's first location in Placentia poses for a picture while Director John Bradley Jackson holds up the signed lease.

From L to R: Dr. Robert Kovacev (Professor, CSUF Entrepreneurship), Robert Koch (Dean, College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics), Jeff Longshaw (Professor, CSUF Entrepreneurship), John Bradley Jackson (Director, Center for Entrepreneurship and Center for Innovation & Professor, CSUF Entrepreneurship), Bob Godlasky (Business Advisor, SCORE), Wally Hicks (President, Affluent Target Marketing), France Helfer (Entrepreneur), Tom Miller (Professor, CSUF Entrepreneurship), Raj Manek (VP International Sales, Vesuki, Inc.), Phillip Stinis (Director of Business Development, Skytypers), Ken Guchereau (Owner, Guchereau Company), Zack Dafaallah (Professor, CSUF Entrepreneurship) & Dr. Mike Ames (Chairman of the Board, CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship).]

Interested in an Accelerated Business Education Series?

140910 Wall Art

One of the Center for Entrepreneurship’s friends is giving serious consideration to launching an accelerated business education series that will cover topics like:

  • HTML
  • WordPress/Google Analytics
  • Photoshop
  • Google Adwords and Adsense

Here is a brief introduction to what is being considered:

We are working on a curriculum of courses designed to prepare new college grads for the workforce and to assist business professionals who want to learn new skills and focus on current skill sets desired by companies. These courses are a two hour session followed by a one hour lab and many hours of hands-on exercises to be completed outside of class. We have designed a 4-week, 8 course curriculum based on courses that we held for our interns during the past 3 years with a very high success rate for job placement.

For more information, please visit ocforward.com.

One of the main problems that we always hear about from our alumni is that they didn’t get enough experience with specific tools. That’s why a program like this is important and, if you have a couple of minutes, we would appreciate it if you could fill out a short survey that will help with getting this kind of program rolling.

CLICK HERE to take the survey

Two Part Time Paid Student Mentors Needed

Bryan Duncan gives a Science on a Sphere presentation at the Beautiful Earth (Bella Gaia) program for Middle school students from Annapolis Middle, Goddard French Immersion School. You might not be doing something as cool as teaching with holograms but you will definitely be making a difference in kids' lives. Credit: NASA/Goddard/Bill Hrybyk

Bryan Duncan gives a Science on a Sphere presentation at the Beautiful Earth (Bella Gaia) program for Middle school students from Annapolis Middle, Goddard French Immersion School.
You might not be doing something as cool as teaching with holograms but you will definitely be making a difference in kids’ lives.
Credit: NASA/Goddard/Bill Hrybyk

The University has secured a grant which provides an after school program at 4 middle schools in Anaheim. This after school program will teach the children science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and the principles of entrepreneurship, which includes the lean startup philosophy.

We will need two CSUF Business students who will work 4-8 hours a week at the middle school with hours of approximately of 3 – 6 pm. This program begins in early October.

Please contact John Bradley Jackson at the Center for Entrepreneurship at jjackson@fullerton.edu or 657 278 8413.

This will look great on your resume! and it will pay $12.00 per hour.

flickr | NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

CSUF Concert Under the Stars – Last Tickets Available

We have two tickets left for the Concert Under the Stars jazz concert that will be happening this weekend on the CSUF campus. All proceeds from the sale of these tickets goes to supporting CSUF Entrepreneurship students and other CSUF programs. If you are interested in attending this event as guests of the Center for Entrepreneurship please get in touch with Travis immediately at tlindsay@fullerton.edu or by phone at (657) 278-3930 and he will reserve your tickets for you.

Concert Under the Stars

Continue reading

CSUF Wins $1 Million Grant to Fund STEM and Entrepreneurship Program for Middle School Students

NSF logoA collaboration between the California State University, Fullerton Colleges of Education, Engineering and Computer Sciences and the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics has netted a grant worth more than $1 million to teach and promote STEM and entrepreneurship to middle school students. According to CSUF News, the project is titled “Strategies: Science, Technology and Engineering Mini-Business Incubator” and its goal is to “[integrate] STEM study and entrepreneurship training to engage seventh- and eighth-graders, said Jidong Huang, associate professor of electrical engineering, who will direct the project. The project also will train science and mathematics teachers [on how] to integrate engineering and computer science concepts and practices in their classrooms.”

What we are trying to do with this grant is to create more of the kinds of students who entered the first Titan Fast Pitch Competition, just like the ones pictured above.

What we are trying to do with this grant is to create more of the kinds of students who entered the first Titan Fast Pitch Competition, just like the ones pictured above.

With funding from the National Science Foundation the central goal of this CSUF project is the promotion of STEM- and entrepreneurship-related curricula. The CSUF contingent of science, education and entrepreneurship professors are well on their way towards researching and designing an innovative after-school program for approximately 160 seventh and eighth grade students in the Anaheim area. This program will focus on science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), lean startup and other entrepreneurial principles.

Led by Dr. Jidong Huang, an electrical engineering professor, the group of CSUF professors responsible for this project include: Dr. Amy Cox-Petersen from the College of Education, Dr. Pradeep Nair from Computer Engineering, and John Bradley Jackson, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and professor of Entrepreneurship. Dr. Diane Donnelly-Toscano will also make major contributions to this project as the representative from the Anaheim Union High School District. Continue reading

Focus on Finding Customers

140827 Tacos SignWhen starting out, the most important thing for entrepreneurs to remember is that the goal is to offer a product or service that solves a pressing problem or need for customers. Don’t get too attached to your initial  ideas. Rather let input from prospective and actual customers guide the decision as to what products or services to build.

To illustrate, allow me to share the story of a CSUF student entrepreneur who was planning to sell a marinade that was created by his father, a successful chef back in their home country. The marinade had been sold on a small scale in the U.S., with positive feedback from customers.

Over the summer, this student entrepreneur was offered the opportunity to sell tacos at a fundraising event for a non-profit organization. He knew nothing about making or selling tacos. In fact, his marinade was not even intended for taco meat. Despite these challenges, the student refused to let this opportunity pass him by. He worked diligently and brainstormed possible ways to create a tasty taco recipe that incorporated the marinade.

Here is how the event went, in his own words:

The results were unbelievable. I sold out and received many positive reviews, including some who commented: “I would pay top dollar for these tacos!”, “So far, these have been the best tacos I’ve tried at the event” and “My friend told me that these tacos were the best so I had to come over and try some.”

I tried to track down my metrics as best as I could, but the customers kept on coming so I lost count.

The event was a huge success. In addition to validating the demand for his tacos, the student also received many suggestions from customers on how to make the tacos even tastier. As a result, he is now working with both his father and another chef to improve upon the original formula with the goal of starting a business that sells tacos (and other food items) using his marinade as a starting point. The results are sure to be popular … and tasty!

The preceding was a post from Dr. Atul Teckchandani, one of the great professors teaching Entrepreneurship at CSUF. Dr. Teckchandani’s research examines the interdependent relationship between organizations and the communities in which they reside. He is interested in how the different types of organizations in a community collectively affect economic outcomes, entrepreneurial activity and the founding and failure rates of other community organizations. This research draws upon work in community ecology, economic geography, social networks and entrepreneurship. His research has been published in Social Science Research, and he has presented at conferences such as the Annual Meetings of the Academy of Management.

flickr | Vaguely Artistic

 

CSUF Entrepreneurship Announces Fast Pitch Competition for November 8, 2014

140826 Fast Pitch

The Center for Entrepreneurship is proud to announce that their next Fast Pitch Competition will be held on Saturday, November 8, 2014. Kicking off at 10:00am this event will feature University and High School tracks (registration info here) and the top finishers from both tracks will win prizes. General registration is free for all contestants and general audience members.

Fast Pitch competitions like this provide students interested in entrepreneurial activities an avenue to explore their interests, a forum for community members (entrepreneurs, students, teachers, business professionals, etc.) to network and share ideas, and Fast Pitch competitions lead to economic growth by supporting business formation.

One of the unique aspects of this Fast Pitch Competition is the centrality of the crowd. The crowd at the event will be able to use their mobile devices to vote on who has the best pitch. Also, all of the funds for this competition will be raised from the crowd as the Center for Entrepreneurship will be launching a crowdfunding campaign to fund this competition.

Email Updates

Details are still being ironed out for the competition and for the crowdfunding campaign as well. If you are interested in keeping up-to-date on the Fast Pitch Competition please enter your information here.

CSUF Business Consulting – THRA Client Testimonial

Lary Smith is the owner and founder of the Horse Race Authority

Lary Smith is the owner and founder of The Horse Race Advantage

After leaving careers in the US Navy and aerospace industry and closing an aerospace engineering business that I was plank owner of (that’s Navy talk for one of the founding members, more or less) after twelve years of operation, I was left with a legacy spinoff called The Horse Race Advantage. How did this happen? Well, to cut a long story short, our CEO, Eleonora (El) Gianoulis, is an extraordinary mathematician, aerospace software analyst and thoroughbred race handicapper. It was under her tutelage that our aerospace software engineers developed this “thoroughbred horse race ranking algorithm” that we have grown into a real business.

We were able to make the algorithm into a service that provides subscribers handicapping and rankings for all of the races for all of the major tracks in North America every racing day. The demonstrated effectiveness of our Handicapping by El has been 70%+ in the money since our website launch in July 2012.

In spinning out the “horsey business” from the engineering small business we were challenged to learn its intricacies. We found out that the web subscription service development and maintenance requires daily content updates, technical maintenance and customer support. After a couple of costly learning experiences in website development, we were eventually successful in creating and launching the current website and getting past residual technical issues. Our company, headquartered in Columbia, Kentucky is operated with our domain expert in Eubank, Kentucky and technical support through Incite Support Services, LLC located in the Fullerton area.

Just short of divine intervention, we have been most fortunate by the appearance of our current webmaster, Mr. Kent Behrends, of BEHR Consulting International. Mr. Behrends, a CSUF alumni, is eager to help small business startups as an aside to his very successful consulting service for computing networks and web-based internet technology.

After our website launched in July 2012 we were eager to find out if we would be successful in getting to our market; would being a credible handicapping service for all major thoroughbred tracks in North America be enough for people?!?! At first we ran a few banner ads and we set up Facebook and Twitter accounts linked to our home page along with email campaigns. We also had Google Analytics on all of our pages and we were focusing on Search Engine Optimization.

In the fall of 2013 it became clear that we were not reaching customers and that we needed cutting edge eCommerce marketing expertise and an effective overall marketing plan. Even with an exciting subject like horseracing after a year of operating our gross revenues were just one-third of our gross costs.

The Horse Race AdvantageAnd then came the Center for Entrepreneurship from California State University, Fullerton. After a short application process in early 2014, a CSUF team of seven students and a mentor from the private sector, all under the supervision of Professor John Bradley Jackson, created and negotiated a Letter of Engagement with my company that outlined a specific plan of what the team would do for my company.

In part, the team was tasked with looking at certain aspects of marketing for my business. The team was very well organized and would look at my Team Development, Business Development, Current Market/Customer Retention, Potential Markets/Market Expansion, Competitor Analysis, Website Development and Social Media and Advertisement Development.

The team began with a kickoff meeting followed by numerous other meetings throughout the semester where they sat down with me and they also interacted with my team members through email and phone calls. These meetings helped immerse the team in the inner workings of my business and that really gave them a sense of where my company was and where I wanted to take it.

In order to really understand the product, every person on the team subscribed to our service and undertook a crash course on how to bet on horse racing. Additionally, the student team conducted multiple interviews at local racing tracks and these interviews were constructed to discern what gamblers were looking for in a handicapping service. This extra effort was instrumental in their producing a quality strategic vision for my company.

At the conclusion of the semester the team had two crucial deliverables that they made. The first one was a presentation to my staff and myself that focused on the highlights of their results and the team laid out a comprehensive marketing strategy for my company to follow. After the presentation the team leader presented me with their written report that went into great detail about the strategy we needed to follow to energize our marketing efforts.

The written report is the gem of the project. It is well-written and it contains very useful information telling me key things that I am not doing to effectively market horseraceadvantage.com. In addition to the key things that I should be doing they included a detailed list of all of the intermediary steps I need to take as well. All of their recommendations are supported by copious amounts of studies and data.

If I were to summarize in three sentence what I thought of my company’s experience with a CSUF Student-led Business Consulting Team I would say:

  1. The CSUF Student-led Business Consulting Project was a wonderful learning experience for all involved and very gratifying as well.
  2. The report produced by the team is factual, strategic in scope and is chock full of helpful insights and perspectives that I could not see before the students started researching my business.
  3. If my business achieves future success I will directly attribute that success to the experience that I have had with the team from Cal State Fullerton and the strategy that they laid out for my company.

I am extremely happy that I had the opportunity to work with a CSUF Student-led Business Consulting Team and I plan on engaging them in another project once I look to take the Horse Race Advantage to the next level!

If you would like more information about the CSUF Student-led Business Consulting Program please click here

Concert Under the Stars

UPDATE (9/9/14): We have just found out that we were able to procure two more tickets for the upcoming Concert Under the Stars event. If you are interested in attending this event (and supporting our students and entrepreneurship throughout the community) please get in touch with Travis at tlindsay@fullerton.edu or (657) 278-3930 and he will help you get your tickets. Please hurry, there are only two tickets left!

UPDATE (8/28/14): All our tickets have been sold out and we will not be getting anymore. Unfortunately, if you were planning on purchasing tickets at our table for this event you will not be able to do so but, hopefully, we can catch up at another time.

The CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship would like to invite you to a fantastic night of jazz music and fireworks! Come visit with your fellow entrepreneurs as attendees get to experience a jazz extravaganza under the direction of CSUF faculty member and Grammy Award-winning jazz pianist, composer and arranger Bill Cunliffe.

We have a limited number of tickets for the Center for Entrepreneurship’s table that will provide guests with a VIP view of the concert and a catered meal (please make your meal selection when reserving your tickets; more info below).

Concert Under the Stars

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