Monthly Archives: May 2012

Current and Future Startup Trends

Starting a new business is risky. So risky, in fact, that most fail within the first few years of conception. While startup failure rates may be high, startups nevertheless provide hope and jobs for many. So what is the state of U.S. startups?

According to an article in the Orange County Register (via the Census Bureau), startups were over 13% of all U.S. companies in the 1980s. While clearly not an overwhelming proportion of businesses, this was not an insubstantial number. However, by 2006, that percentage had fallen to 11%. Mid way through the “great recession”, startups are less than 8% of U.S. businesses.

Why is this so? Access to capital may be the biggest factor. But, increasingly complex paths to the customer are the hidden startup killer. Markets seem to emerge, mature, and decline in just a few months. A single product startup can choose the wrong category or vertical and end up out of business quickly. More pre-launch market research may be the best antidote.

This has led some to question whether the United States is becoming less entrepreneurial. This impacts the job market, since startups provide jobs that simply wouldn’t have existed before. It is true that California has suffered mightily following the current recession; yet, it is among a few states (also including Arizona) that may be rebounding, according to a report by the Kaufman Foundation.

Looking to create or invest in a start-up? Consider the industries listed by Inc.com as the best industries to start a business in. An increased focus on health and personal growth means there’s huge potential for industries like yoga products and services and self-improvement (like weight loss). Changing demographics means home healthcare (for aging baby boomers) is a hot industry. The great recession means that people want to make themselves feel better but for less money; this new found frugality is fueling a bull market in cheap alcohol and candy.

Other top industries to start a business in are iPhone apps, healthcare technology, technical and trade schools, software as a service, fast-casual dining (think Panera Bread), green construction, niche consulting, education technology, temporary staffing firms, government services, accounting services, and solar energy.

John Bradley Jackson
Director, Center for Entrepreneurship
jjackson@fulleton.edu

Center for Entrepreneurship 10th Anniversary Celebration

This is a friendly reminder that the Center for Entrepreneurship’s 10th Anniversary Party is coming up. Here are the important details:

  • Place: Third Floor Terrace in SGMH
  • Date: Wednesday, May 30th
  • Time: 3:00pm to 5:00pm (the time was different in a previous email, this is the correct time)
  • Parking: Marriott Parking Lot – $6.00
Hors d’oeurves and drinks will be served at this event. The first part of this event will be for networking and the remainder is for the presentation of awards and certificates, including:
  • The Conrey Insurance Brokers & Risk Managers Entrepreneurial Scholarship provided by Jerry Conrey
  • The Steve Keller Memorial Scholarship provided by Bill Bemus
  • The State Farm Insurance Scholarship provided by Ellen Williams
  • The Small Business Institute National 1st place winning team (undergraduate)
  • The Small Business Institute National 3rd place winning team (graduate)
  • The new FastStart.studio Scholarship provided by Michael Sawitz.
  • We will also recognize all of the time and effort our volunteers give; making this program so unique and vibrant.
If you have already RSVP’d you only have to show up but if you have not yet had the opportunity to RSVP please do so by Thursday to Travis at tlindsay@fullerton.edu.

Greg Nelson Arts

This is another post showcasing a business created by an Entrepreneurship student at California State University, Fullerton.

The marketing tactics used by real-estate agents is ripe for innovation. Yes, many agents have a website where a prospective buyer can go to look at available properties and learn more about them. But these sites do little to truly showcase a property. The pictures do not convey the true sizes of the rooms. The videos (if available) are of someone walking through the house, going from room to room. These videos are shaky and grainy, and are more likely to induce headaches than to make anyone want to view the property.

Greg Nelson is at the forefront of a movement that wants to change all that. Like some other real-estate photographers, he uses special equipment and technology that produces pictures that better showcase the true size and lighting of a room. Greg’s true talent is to leverage his film background to create unique lifestyle videos that showcase what it would be like to actually live in the property. He has recently launched a business, called Greg Nelson Arts that offers photography, videography, and website services to real-estate agents.

Here is a recent video created by Greg: https://vimeo.com/36878576

A previous video he created was picked up by AOL and has received over 15,000 views to date.

There are significant benefits for agents who use videos like the one above. In a matter of minutes, the prospective buyer knows what it would be like to live in that house. An instant connection is created. Moreover, the video can be customized to tailor to the type of buyer. A bachelor pad can be advertised via a video that showcases the home from a bachelor’s perspective. A home in a nice suburb with good schools can be advertised to showcase the benefits of the home to buyers with families. The possibilities are endless.

The key advantage is that these videos allow prospective buyers to have a much better sense of whether this is a property they want to see in-person. This results in much better use of the real estate agent’s time since they are more likely to show the property only to serious buyers. Finally, there is certainly a reputational boost for agents who showcase their properties via a professional website with high-quality photos and lifestyle videos. From the property owner’s perspective, the commission rate is roughly the same for all agents, so why not pick the one that can sell your property quickly and at the best price? Using Greg Nelson Arts seems like a no-brainer to me.

Job Opening: Thoro Packaging

Job Title:                     Marketing Liaison

Department:             Marketing

Reports to:                  President

Position Summary

Assist the President in the development of market strategies to favorably position Thoro in the marketplace.  Create and implement marketing solutions.

Consistently and efficiently provide quality information per procedures in compliance to ISO 9001:2000 standards.

Responsibilities

Increase brand recognition and establish Thoro as a recognized leader in the industry in terms of sustainability and diversity, as well as the folding carton manufacturer of choice for high-end, high-quality products.

Look for up-sale opportunities, meeting future customer needs, identifying current customer needs and priorities, then integrating the recommendations into marketing tools and presentations.

Take independent initiative to market company services.

Develop strategic plan for servicing current customers and the development of customers and new markets.

Coordinate the creation and production of sales and marketing materials from conception through distribution meeting all necessary deadlines.

Develop and make oral and written presentations to internal/external customers.

Support large customer bid package responses.

Follow up Customer Visits with a letter from the President.

Work with the Sales Manager to assign sales territory/customer prospects to Sales Representatives.

Maintain Thoro’s offsite “Walking Tour” presentations to be current and relevant, as well as Thoro’s Plant Walking Tour.

Obtain bids and act as liaison with vendors in such areas as delivering marketing material, scheduling proofs, and meetings.

Track, collate, and maintain inventory of marketing materials; have marketing materials separated by industry and ready for sales usage.

Create and place Thoro advertising in leading trade media consistent with direction and goals of the company staying within budget.

Utilize social media to promote Thoro’s abilities, vision, environmental commitments, and community contributions.

Manage social networking for the Present.

Coordinate the assembly and distribution of Thoro’s promos.

Coordinate trade show exhibits, promotions, packaging, shipping, schedule staff travel, and (as necessary) travel to and participate in the trade shows from set-up through tear-down.

Attend conferences such as PPC, PIASC, Brand Protection, etc.

Maintain and update all Customer Display Cabinets.

Maintain website content updates.

Keep information current on supplier diversity web portals.

Research prospective and existing customer backgrounds, news, websites, etc. upon request and as needed; and gather any competitive analysis data to assist in customer acquisition and retention.

Administer Thoro’s certification programs and environmental Chain of Custody submissions (artwork and data); such as FSC, SFI, WBENC, SGP, etc.

Maintain a current customer/prospect database and generate internal database information, such as lists and counts for direct marketing projects.

Assist in maintaining Thoro’s Lean and Green Wall of Fame

Assist in maintaining and updating Thoro’s “on hold” telephone recordings.

Help organize and prepare for involvement in community organizations and events such as: school tours, the TICCIT program, donations, etc.

Provide clerical support to sales department and other departments (i.e. letters and forms that need to be created or designed).

Provide support to the President as required.

Essential Job Functions

Ability to properly construct a grammatically correct letter.

Communicate clearly and concisely with respect, to all Thoro Packaging’s personnel at all levels in addition to customers and suppliers.

Consistently make decisions demonstrating regard for our customer.

Initiates involvement in creative solutions and implements improvements to team quality processes.

Learn and follow all safety rules.

Distinguish colors accurately and consistently.

Ability to stand/sit/bend/walk and manual dexterity for duration of work period.

Moderate lifting up to 35 lbs. as necessary to perform sales and marketing functions.

Ability to work in a high stress environment to meet customer delivery dates.

These Essential Job Functions are not intended, and should not be construed, to be all-inclusive lists of responsibilities, skills, efforts or working conditions associated with this job.  While these Essential Job Functions are intended to be an accurate reflection of the job requirements, management reserves the right to modify, add or remove duties from particular jobs and to assign other duties as necessary.

If you are interested in this job please contact:

Patrick McClure
The Sales Wizard
Office (949) 858-0755
Cell (949) 683-7144

 

CSUF Team at Regional Business Plan Contest

On Saturday April 28th Chapman University hosted the 1st annual California Dreamin’ Business Plan Competition. Students from 17 universities participated for prize money totaling $100,000. The competing schools included Chapman, UCLA, CalTech, USC, UC Irvine, Claremont McKenna, Loyola Marymount University, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, U of Utah, U of Houston, U of Hawaii, Oklahoma State University, Brigham Young University, University of Arizona, Baylor University, and University of Oklahoma. This was an impressive group to say the least.

After placing 2nd in the CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship business plan competition, my company, Astral Infiniti and our solar powered unmanned airplane, was chosen to represent Fullerton in the competition. I had approximately a week to prepare full pro-forma financial statements, rework my presentation, and prepare my speech for the regional competition. Looking back that wasn’t a lot of time, but the idea of winning the 1st place prize of $50,000 was a powerful motivator.

On Friday April 27th, all of the participants gathered at a private residence in Newport Beach for the welcoming reception. It was an opportunity to meet many successful entrepreneurs as well as the other teams in the competition. The view overlooking the Pacific Ocean was a great setting to kick off the competition.

The next morning, my father and I arrived at Chapman around 8:30 am. The 17 schools were divided into 4 pools. There would be a winner coming out of each pool, plus a wild card. So there would be 5 finalists in all. My pool consisted of Cal Tech, Berkley, Chapman, and Oklahoma. After seeing my grouping I figured, if I’m going to win this thing I’m going to have to earn it. I was slated to present at 10:30 am, the 3rd school of 5.

After going through one last rehearsal and making some last minute adjustments to the presentation, we were called in to present. I delivered the presentation we put together, answered the judges’ questions, and felt good leaving the room. I knew I was up against some formidable competition so I really had no idea whether or not it would be good enough to advance. The good news was that we only had to wait 2½ hours to find out.

At 1:30 pm after all the teams had presented and we had all eaten lunch, the finalists were finally announced. Berkeley advanced from my pool. I’d like to say I was disappointed not hear my name called, but I wasn’t. I felt like I executed the plan we put together and if I wasn’t chosen then there wasn’t anything more I could have done. My new friends from the University of Utah did advance and I hope they won. We didn’t stick around to find out, though. We were exhausted.

It was a really fun time and an incredible learning experience. I met some really great people and got to work on this project with three men that I have a great deal of respect for: Fullerton faculty members John Bradley Jackson & Randy Hoffman, and of course my father Kent Decker who designed the plane. Thank you to all that helped me with this project. At the end of the day, the best thing about entrepreneurship is that you can never lose, you can only be temporarily delayed……………

Daniel Decker
Astral Infiniti, LLC
CSUF MBA Candidate 2012