Monthly Archives: September 2012

Success Story: GamerComps.com

Steve Schoenhals, co-Owner of GamerComps.com, at Fast.Start.studio

This post was written by Steve Schoenhals, a CSUF student.

Two years ago, I packed up as many belongings as I could fit into my car and drove from Michigan to California for the purpose of finishing my education at CSUF. My plan was to learn as much as I could at CSUF while also starting a company on the side. About half-way through my first semester, I joined my colleague, Chris Brockman, and together we co-founded GamerComps.com. GamerComps.com was to be a gaming network that would enable mobile gamers to compete in tournaments for prizes. We believed in our business idea, but only had a general understanding of the necessary steps to bring it to market.

We decided to take the ‘normal’ route: write a business plan, and then use it to find funding. We did our best and created a plan that we believed would attract investors. When the plan was ready, it was time to inform investors of our amazing business idea and then sit back and let the money flow in. We called and applied to almost every angel, venture capitalist, and private equity group we could find on the West Coast. After two weeks of efforts, we had not received a single response. Three long weeks later we received a call from an investment group who was interested in our concept. This was finally our big break! We met with them and gave what we felt was a great presentation, but the very next day we received a call informing us that they had decided to pass.

We remained optimistic, thinking that our last meeting was only one of many chances to come. After waiting another month or two, there were no more calls, there were no more chances. At this point, Chris and I had used up all the contacts at our disposal; we were dead in the water. As hard as it was at this point, I knew what we had was special and there was no way I was going to give up. I had one last place in mind that could be of help, the CSUF Center For Entrepreneurship.

I grabbed my business plan and headed to the the CSUF Center For Entrepreneurship on a mission to find a way to get GamerComps.com off the ground and running. I still remember my first talk with John Jackson, the Center’s Director. I was hungry to succeed, and after months of failure, I was not going to let our meeting be another loss. I explained my concept, past losses, and asked if he could help. I could tell John understood how special our concept was and that he saw the fire in my eyes. John was kind enough to begin mentoring me while also introducing me to the faculty involved at the CSUF Center For Entrepreneurship.

Getting involved with the Center For Entrepreneurship was exactly what I needed. The faculty there are very knowledgeable, experienced, and took the time personally to help me better prepare my business. I learned everything from how to best protect my intellectual property to improving my business plan and much more. Most importantly, the center was a safe place to share ideas and receive very knowledgeable
feedback. After a few months of mentorship, John connected me with Michael Sawitz, who was then starting a new business incubator called Fast.Start.studio in Orange County. Michael informed me that he was offering a scholarship through CSUF for a free year at his new incubator; I immediately applied. I met with Michael on a few occasions to discuss my business and the progress I had made. After a few weeks of agonizing
waiting, Michael informed that me that I was the recipient of the first annual scholarship to Fast.Start.studio worth over 55k.

As a resident of Fast Start Studio, Michael has provided me with amazing services, workshops, and has opened a tremendous amount of doors. The mentors and advisers at the incubator are incredibly experienced, connected, and helpful as well. Since joining Fast Start Studio, GamerComps.com has now teamed up with three established mobile gaming publishers, our user-base is growing rapidly, and the site is quickly moving down the path to success. If it were not for the base of knowledge I received from the CSUF Center Of Entrepreneurship, and the incredible backing of both CSUF and Fast Start Studio, GamerComps.com would not be where it is today!

Entrepreneurship, Accounting and the Bottom Line

Today we have a special treat. Our friends over at the Business Development and Entrepreneurship Club, Irvine are letting us reprint one of their recent articles. This particular article was written by Paul Fairfield and it’s full of ruminations on accounting and it’s relationship with entrepreneurship. After you are done reading this article you should check out this post we previously republished from BDEC.

Every last penny counts

Accounting and Entrepreneurship – Joined at the Tongue (Not in the Gross Way)

I have long regarded accounting to be the language of business. We hear it all the time. Whether you talk to a business owner, a CEO, or an investor; whether the business is a service, a manufacturer, or a retail outfit; it’s always all about the emotionless “bottom line.”

I love that term. I love it in part because it’s so ambiguous. The bottom line for one person could be Net Income, for another, Net Worth. It could be EBITDA, ROI, or EPS. But no matter what it could be, the bottom line always is a number. It’s a number that was calculated, reported, and verified by accountants. Marketing tries to predict it, operations tries to create it, finance tries to affect it, but accounting determines it.

I also love the term because, for all its ambiguity, the bottom line is what business decisions are made of. Every loosey-goosey product design, every fluffy marketing campaign, every fuzzy idea, is boiled down (by accounting) to a cold number that businessmen use to take action, to go, to stop, to buy, sell, wait, for how long, or how much.

Entrepreneurs are those who take the fuzziest ideas and turn them in to clear financial models. The really talented ones do this automatically, but most have to work on the translation from English to business. It is in the community of entrepreneurship where new business is born, where new wealth is generated, and where the bottom line is the top of everyone’s list. And, yes, where business is spoken conversationally. It should be no surprise then, that accountants who join this community fit right in because they are already fluent in the local language.

[image: puuikibeach]

Chapman’s Entrepreneurs Lecture Series: Founder of Farmville

One of the co-founders of Farmville, Sizhao Yang, is going to give a lecture at Chapman University on Wednesday, September 26. Here’s a little on Mr. Yang’s background from his LinkedIn page:

Previously, he co-founded BetterWorks, a reward & recognition system for employers. Before BetterWorks, he co-created Farmville, and was the CEO/co-founder of MyMiniLife, Inc. (sold to Zynga Game Networks, Inc.). MyMiniLife is now the common technology platform at Zynga. He is also an investor with stakes in companies like Hipmunk, GroupMe, Facebook, Zynga (acquisition stock), and SV Angels.

SOURCE

If you are interested in hearing him talk please click on this LINK which will give you all the pertinent information.

CSUF MBAs needed for Competition

Time is running out to enter this competition so I will be brief. CSUF needs three MBA students who would like to enter a competition. If you are interested please email me: tlindsay@fullerton.edu. Here’s the information:

About the I2P Student Challenge-CSUPERB Research Scholars Award

CSUPERB is pleased to kick-off this year’s system-wide early-stage biotechnology commercialization challenge!

Expected Award Amount: $5000

Program Description

The CSUPERB Idea to Product (I2P®) Competition is an early-stage biotechnology commercialization plan competition for CSU students. The I2P® Competitions were designed and pioneered at The University of Texas at Austin by engineering professor Dr. Steven Nichols and colleagues.  As they explain it, “the phrase Idea to Product refers to applying creative thought to a technology (“Idea”) and developing a market application (“Product”) for that technology.” This year’s I2P® competition will culminate at the 25th Annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium (January 4-5, 2013).

One hallmark of the I2P® program is that scientists and engineers with no previous experience in technology commercialization can be competitive.  Competition CSU teams pair science/engineering students with business students.  Symposium registration, lodging, meals and travel reimbursements for finalist teams and two faculty mentors will be provided by CSUPERB.  At least $5000 in awards will be made to finalists at the symposium.

CLICK FOR MORE INFORMATION

Sounds like a really good opportunity to sharpen your skills, network with motivated individuals and, who knows, you might actually win some money as well. Remember, if you are interested please get in touch with me at tlindsay@fullerton.edu.

Thanks

It’s in the Process, not the Plan

What follows is a post from Dr. Atul Teckchandani, one of the great professors teaching Entrepreneurship at CSUF.

The current philosophy in entrepreneurship is being “lean.” In a nutshell, this approach advocates continuous innovation of the firm’s business model. The notion of going into stealth mode for a year and then suddenly appearing in the marketplace with the next great new thing that (you hope) everyone wants is foolish. It is better to get something out into the market quickly (called a “minimum viable product”) and then tweak it based on customer input. The lean start-up philosophy advocates a very thorough strategy for how to seek customer input and use it to determine the next iteration of the product.

Some believe that the lean startup methodology renders business plans obsolete. Such statements are extreme and make assumptions about business plans that simply are not true – or at least, no longer true. A business plan is not a step-by-step template for how to create a successful business. Such a document is impossible to create. Instead, it is a detailed analysis of whether pursuing this business opportunity makes sense.

This analysis starts with planning and testing the firm’s business model (for a great tool that can be used, check businessmodelgeneration.com). A vital part of doing so involves getting feedback from potential customers, suppliers, etc. After researching and revising the business model, entrepreneurs can expand on some elements of it to better assess the opportunity. The revenue and cost assumptions from the business model can be used to create more detailed financial statements to assess whether the firm can be profitable and to estimate how much money is needed to launch the firm and keep it going till it is cash flow positive. Thorough research in refining the business model also gives entrepreneurs a good sense of the most critical skills needed to launch this business, which is information that can be used by entrepreneurs to assess the strengths of their current team and to determine how to address any perceived weaknesses.

While the business model is arguably the most important piece in assessing whether a business should be launched, there are other important issues that must be considered before launching a business venture. And while the business plan can be seen as a synthesis of this effort, it is by no means the end goal. We live in a world that is constantly innovating, which means that the assumptions in your business plan must be validated again (and again, and again…). As such, it is not the business plan document itself that is important, it is the hard work and research that went into producing the information that ultimately went into that document. In other words, it is more important for entrepreneurs to master the process of how to gather and analyze information because that is how they can make sure the business is staying relevant in the eyes of its customers. After all, if customers value what the firm is making, that goes a long way towards building a successful business.

[image: Tiago Daniel | flickr]

CSUF Student Consulting Teams Ready to Work

A new semester has just started and we are looking for a few more clients to participate in our award-winning Student Consulting Program. We need clients for:

  • Accounting
  • HR/Leadership
  • Operations
  • Strategy

Over the years most of our clients have had a wonderful experience with our program. Here’s a little sampling of what they had to say about our Student Consulting Teams:

Steve Binnixm, RTI Electronics

“Any business that is looking for new insight and creativity would definitely benefit from this program. Our team was very responsive to our needs and approached solutions with complete professionalism.”

Mr. Ronald Fought, Pre-Mix Products

“The team members were knowledgeable and supportive of our organization’s specific needs. I think the team was responsible for our improved profit. It was 7 percent last year and 2, 3 percent in previous years.”

Richard Goodman, President, Laguna Bamboo, Inc.

“The team did a great job. Their findings were well worth the time and money invested.”

There are literally dozens of additional testimonials just like the three above from happy clients. And, of course, there is this story about our National Champion Student Consulting Team who consulted for Fortis, a local staffing firm.

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 8243 or by email  at cymedina@fullerton.edu to find out more about our program.

Accounting Help from a CSUF Consulting Team

Everywhere you look sales are down, budgets are tighter and almost every company is looking for a new way to compete in this tough market. While there is no simple solution one of the most important aspects of any successful business (especially during these times) is to have the appropriate financial systems in place.

Without the correct financial controls your company could potentially be losing a lot of money. Here are some of the symptoms of poor financial controls:

  • Too many unpaid invoices
  • Out of control debt
  • Poor credit rating
  • Inability to expand operations
  • Trouble with the IRS

Those problems and many others just like them can be avoided by implementing a robust system of financial controls. Intuitively, you may know that this is the case and that if you had enough time you could improve your company’s fiscal stability. But you don’t have enough time to do all the research necessary to figure out what systems you need for your business so you haven’t tackled this problem yet.

Fortunately, that is where CSUF’s Student Consulting Program comes in. Our students provide a perfect solution for any company that wants to improve their financial situation. Each team brings to the table a wealth of knowledge that can put any wayward business on the right path.

Furthermore, each Student Consulting Team is lead by one of our excellent professors and a coach with many years of experience in the private sector. Student Consulting Teams can bring forth many new ideas for your business and with these ideas you will finally have the means to bolster your financial situation.

For a nominal fee you will receive access to a bounty of fresh ideas that will give you an edge over your competition. If you want to have a financial advantage please contact Ms. Charlesetta Medina by phone at (657) 278-8243 or by email at cymedina@fullerton.edu for more information. You can also learn more about our program here.

[image: skpy | image]