Monthly Archives: March 2013

How the Falling Birth Rate in the U.S. Affects Business

Falling baby pandas (yes, we know it’s a stretch)

The birth rate in the United States is at the lowest ever recorded, according to new data released in November by the Pew Research Center.  This has important and long-term implications – political, social, and economic.  It also affects how marketers will try to sell their products and services.

The yearly number of births per 1000 women between 15 and 44 years old dropped to 64 births per 1000.  For comparison, the birth rate in the United States peaked in 1957, at 122.7 births per 1000.  When the economy was strong, the United States experienced a baby boom.  Now, as the economy limps along in its recovery, twenty-somethings may still delay becoming a parent due to high student loans or a difficult job market.  The steepest decline in birth rate was among Hispanic women, who have been hit particularly hard by the recession.

The United States has been the envy of the developed world because its birth rate has generally been high enough to replace people, due in large part to immigrants and their children.  The reason you want to have a stable or growing population is so the younger workers can support the older members of the population as they age.  Countries dealing with falling birth rates, like Japan, are very worried about how to tackle this social issue.

If Americans are having less babies, this means businesses that sell products or offer services catering to young families will have to adapt or risk losing revenue due to decreased number of babies being born.  Schools, childcare centers, and children-related businesses will need to adjust their game plan if their core consumers are less than before.

By contrast, companies that specialize in products or services catering to the elderly population are likely to do quite well.  Services would include healthcare, meal delivery, transportation, and more.

The average age of a working American will increase, and this will affect workplace dynamics.  Some worry about whether this will mean decreased productivity or innovation, without lots of energetic, young counterparts putting pressure from below.

Birth rates generally bounce back after economic downturns and there is no reason to expect that people won’t begin having babies at a higher rate.  Nevertheless, even a temporarily depressed birth rate can have significant consequences long-term.

For entrepreneurs, the falling birth rate offers opportunities and risks. Knowledge of this trend could prove powerful.

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

[image: daodao]

Success Story: Phillip Stinis ’11 MBA

Tapping Success

“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed.”

Booker T. Washington

As a child, my father told me inspirational stories of my grandfather – an immigrant who came to America with nothing and built an empire as an inventor and entrepreneur. He invented Skytyping, a process that utilizes five skywriters to “puff” out the World’s Largest Billboard in a dot-matrix format; he grew that company to be an internationally recognized advertising media company that is still in operation after 50 years. I knew at that point that I wanted to be successful like him and started to ask myself: “If he could do it, could anybody be a success?”

Like my grandfather, I enjoyed coming up with outside-the-box solutions and was passionate about seeing them come to fruition. In 2000, I graduated with an Electrical Engineering degree and worked for Boeing designing military satellite power amplifiers. All throughout my life I envisioned how things could work better and while I was able to save my employer millions of dollars through innovation in engineering, I still felt my creativity was stifled. I wanted to find a way for my own ideas to reach the public domain and concluded that I needed to learn how to start a business so that I could bring my own ideas to life.

I looked at the best schools for Entrepreneurship and when I found out California State University, Fullerton was both the largest business school in California and provided a world-class education, I was definitely intrigued. Since I went to USC for my Master’s degree in Engineering, I wanted my MBA experience to be comparable. I was sold when I found out I would be the first class to start in the new state-of-the-art Steven G. Mihaylo school of Business and it had the hands-on curriculum that would provide me the resources I needed to be successful.

Immediately from the start of the program I grew close to my advisers and the successful business mentors who helped me in my projects, especially during the Venture Creation and Venture Launch courses. While I had many ideas and didn’t know exactly what business I wanted to start at first, I did gain a better understanding of what would succeed and what wouldn’t so I was able to refine my thinking.

Halfway through my program and specifically in my queuing theory class, the mathematical study of wait times; I came up with the idea of ordering drinks through a mobile device to “skip the wait.” In that class I met my business partner who persuaded me to consider including restaurants and introduced me to his friend and our soon to be programmer who later created our iPad and iPhone app. After flushing out the idea for a couple semesters, I then refined our business plan and launched immediately after graduation.

The first six months I literally went door to door talking with hundreds of restaurant owners and they had no interest in changing the way they did business. While we knew wireless ordering would increase table turnaround and profitability, owners were too afraid of the change and I felt a pivot was needed in order to get our solution in the door. I started from the ground up, looking at what restaurants were interested in learning about when I stumbled upon a term called “menu engineering” and learned that people order food based on where their eye looks at the menu. I then noticed our iPad app interface was different from our competitors in the way that we had an array of photos vs. listing items. I felt people would choose the most appetizing photos, especially based on placement from menu engineering, therefore increasing sales on the items restaurant owners wanted to feature on our iPad menu.

This led me to build marketing strategies around our distinct product and sell our system as “menu optimization” software. It was at this time I went back to CSUF and asked my former adviser, John Jackson (JJ), for advice. He had me discuss my plan with his students for feedback and leads and shortly after he found some restaurant clients who had hired the CSUF entrepreneur classes for strategic advances in their businesses and thought they might be interested. One restaurateur in particular told me “no” when I was going door-to-door, then changed his mind and said “yes, I trust JJ’s recommendations and would be happy to try it out.”

That fine dining restaurant was my first beta test and using our menu optimization software, my team and I were able to improve sales for a stellar performing server by 24% and 36% for an underperforming server. In that environment, I personally introduced our digital menu to over 500 end-users (restaurant guests), all which gave me positive feedback, most notably how our menu was easy to use and see in the dim lit restaurants without putting on reading glasses.

In my next beta test, the owners of a casual dining restaurant recorded samples from 125 random customers – they reported to me they received an average increase in guest checks (sales) of 21.3% throughout the month. My next proof of concept came when a restaurant using our system told me their Margarita Pizza sales were slow and wanted our help. I asked them what was wrong and they told me their Margarita Pizza wasn’t selling because it wasn’t on my iPad menu system – this told me items on my menu system were selling more than items solely on their paper menus. Within 5 minutes of them sending me a photo of their pizza, I was able to have it remotely synced up and placed on their iPad menu. After a week, they told me the Margarita Pizza sales went up 225%!

These were the proofs of concept I needed and with the help of the CSUF staff and mentors who had decades of restaurant consulting experience, they helped me create marketing material that got restaurant owners’ attention. With renewed confidence, I started creating channel partnerships with restaurant influencers. These partnerships became our sales channels which allowed us to reach into international markets and expand Tap Tap Order.

Reflecting on it all, I definitely realized the power of networking and how much CSUF was more of a valuable resource beyond just an education. I was able to refine my business concepts and it gave me the knowledge I needed to understand how to make my concepts valuable and to whom. My suggestion for even non-business majors is to enter the business plan contests that are open to all majors; the entrepreneurship program was the only way I had a chance at success and I know it would do the same for others who aren’t afraid of following their dreams.

In closing, I’d like to say our ordering platform was finally seen as a success too, the tablets are just used by waiters instead of customers to wirelessly send orders into the kitchen to reduce the waiter’s redundancy of walking back and forth from the tables to the kitchen. Tablet and mobile devices are here to stay, every child in America is exposed to one of these and it will continue to be prevalent in the future. With a robust ordering system platform in place, I still believe consumer ordering, especially at bars and nightclubs, is the next trend and I’m looking forward to making that segment our next successful beta test – hopefully soon after an owner who wants to leverage technology reads this article and contacts us!

Phillip Stinis ’11 MBA
Managing Partner of Tap Tap Order
phillip@taptaporder.com

Success Story: Vincent Yancoskie ’13

Next Level Entrepreneurship: Breaking into the Mobile App and Web Design Markets

Vincent Yancoskie '10 - CSUF EntrepreneurshipAt Cal State Fullerton, I never imagined I would have the opportunity to delve into the video game industry. The possibility arose when my friend approached me with an idea for a mobile game for the iOS platform and an offer for partnership in the game once it was released. My job consisted of creating most of the graphics interface and marketing the product once it was in the App Store. I immediately jumped on the project in late 2011 and began teaching myself to create graphics in Photoshop.

Meanwhile, I opted to take an Entrepreneurship class which involved a student consulting project. Professor John Bradley Jackson’s “Marketing for Entrepreneurs” class brought on a fresh perspective as to how I could take the business further once the game launched in the app store. Through various presentations and projects, the class raised my levels of awareness as to how I could leverage various avenues to promote the app.

One of the most significant projects in the class opened the door for me to analyze a local business with a team of students in a sophisticated student consulting project. The semester-long project permitted me to garner real-world business experience that later gave me several valuable tools to market the app and also begin contract work designing websites for two consulting groups and a doctor.

The entrepreneurship class challenged me to apply the vast majority of my marketing skills and provided me with a clear vision of drive, passion and the conviction that it takes to start a new business. It also served to invigorate my motivation to finish developing the iOS game and release it to the market.

As the last weeks of the entrepreneurship course began to draw to a close, the iPhone game, officially titled “Lightning Assault” cleared Apple’s approval process and was officially released to the world on the app store. My feelings of accomplishment and excitement when Lightning Assault launched on December 3rd, 2012 were indescribable.

Then came the challenge of marketing the game. Naturally, the first approach was getting all my friends to download the app, a resource that quickly exhausted itself. Within a few weeks of the game’s launch, I had the website LightningAssault.com up and running, as well as several social media channels in an attempt to push traffic towards the website and collect downloads. However, it was soon evident that I needed to go beyond the most obvious methods of raising awareness for our game. I decided to contact a friend in the journalism industry. She sent my name out, and I soon had an interview scheduled with the OC Register, which resulted in the following article.

Today, Lightning Assault maintains a small yet steady growth in downloads. There is still much room for experimentation in aggressive promotion techniques, yet it has been stated that the game holds potential for massive popularity. Above all, it stands as a beacon of the accomplishments of the three person team that created it, and as an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Business Women’s Mega Mixer

To celebrate and recognize all women in business, the CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship is participating in the Business Women’s Mega Mixer!

Thursday, March 28, 2013 – 5:30-8:00pm
Hilton Irvine / OC Airport
$35 –
at www.BusinessWomensMegaMixer.com

Join us for the historic and exciting Business Women’s Mega Mixer as we honor women from our past, present and future, and celebrate those who have overcome obstacles and blazed trails of opportunity. This year is sure to be even bigger and better as we gather together in celebration, recognition and fundraising for the 2013 non-profit beneficiary, Working Wardrobes.

Event Benefits:

  • Mega-mixing and mega-mingling with HUNDREDS of professional women
  • Celebration of Women’s History Month!
  • Highlight 20+ professional women’s organizations!
  • Showcase 40+ female-owned businesses!
  • Enjoy catered hors d’oeuvres!
  • Opportunities to make new connections and forge new partnerships!
  • Raise money for Working Wardrobes!

Please register at www.BusinessWomensMegaMixer.com

Want a taste of what it’s like before you decide?

Take a 4-minute peek at last year’s event video.

Part Time Office Manager Needed

A local IT services firm started by CSUF Entrepreneurship alum Evan Faccou has an immediate opening for a part time office manager.

Responsibilities:
-Bookkeeping responsibilities including depositing checks, reconciling and balancing various bank accounts
-Dictating invoices
-Corresponding with customers via telephone and e-mail
-Other miscellaneous tasks as needed

Requirements:
-Knowledgeable in MS Word, Excel and Outlook
-QuickBooks experience is a plus
-Proficient in typing
-Excellent communication skills; verbal and written
-Quick learner and self-starter

-Entry level okay
-Great for students
-Part time (15-20 hours weekly)
-Monday, Wednesday, Friday 11:00am-4:00pm
-Hours somewhat flexible
-Starting at $10/hour

If interested, contact Evan Faccou, President.

Nextech, Inc.
Santa Ana, California

Tel: (714) 646-NEXT x101
Fax: (714) 784-1214
Em: evan@nextech.net

 

CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship Update – March 2013

The following is a message from Center Director John Bradley Jackson

The Spring semester is well underway and we are quickly approaching some exciting events.

Research Week 2013 The first of these events is called Research Week. Of particular interest to you would be the Friday, March 22 session at the Fullerton Marriott that features panels and speeches on topics that are of interest to students and professionals. Six CSUF faculty members will present easy to understand “posters” which will highlight innovative new research in Life Sciences. No registration is necessary for this event and parking is free (just tell the Marriott parking attendants that you are there for Research Week). We will have a table so stop on by!

The CSUF Business Plan Competition 2013 (#CSUFBizPlan2013 for those of us active on social media) is moving along nicely and we are happy to announce that we have 50% more entrants this year than we did last year! The big event, the Finals, will be held on Wednesday, April 17 from 9:30 am to noon in TSU Pavilion A. Everyone is welcome so bring a friend or an investor! There will be raffle prizes.

Our big news of the month is that Two of our Student Consulting Projects placed third in the most recent national Small Business Institute (SBI) Project of the Year Competition. This is a prestigious honor and our heartiest congratulations go to the team members, coaches and professors who worked on these projects. This is the 21st year that CSUF Entrepreneurship student teams have placed in the top ten in this national competition.

Speaking of student consulting, we are now recruiting more clients for our  summer MBA session. The students will conduct a full strategic analysis for firm including operations, finance, human resources, and sales & marketing. If you are interested please send us an email to entrepreneurship@fullerton.edu or contact Ms. Charlesetta Medina at 657-278-8243.

Alex Can students really learn Entrepreneurship? We get asked that a lot and our answer is YES! For example, please meet Alex Rigo ’09, our newest success story. Alex took his business plan for an online parts store he created in our New Venture course and has turned it into a startup! We are very proud of what Alex has accomplished.

Finally, TriTech’s 4th Annual “Funding the Big Idea” is going to be held on March 28. There will be a business idea competition, “speed-dating” with investors and entrepreneurs, information on raising capital and so much more!

Sincerely,

John Bradley Jackson
Director, Center for Entrepreneurship
California State University, Fullerton

“Entrepreneurs in Residence”- Cal State Fullerton’s Center for Entrepreneurship

The CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship’s (CFE) “Entrepreneurs in Residence” program plays a vital role in the educational development of business students in the entrepreneurial concentration. These experienced businessmen and women, provide students with a mentor that is a knowledgeable source of real world business applications, strategies, operations, and problem solving capabilities.

The mentor’s role of coaching individual teams through projects in the CFE’s Student Consulting Program is essential to the program’s ability to serve its clients at a high level. A professor may have as many as 6 teams serving 6 different clients in one semester’s class. Having one experienced mentor assigned to each group and its client makes the operation manageable for the CSUF faculty.

Conrey Insurance Brokers’ Agency Principal, Jerry Conrey, is one of the “Entrepreneurs in Residence” at the CFE. Jerry has been involved in Orange County’s business community for nearly thirty-years, twenty-five of those years as a licensed insurance agent. He was a District Manager for Farmers Insurance before founding Conrey Insurance Brokers of Tustin, and is an alumnus of Cal State University, Fullerton.

I recently sat down with Jerry to discuss his involvement with the CFE as an “Entrepreneur in Residence”

CI: You have very full schedule running your own business, Conrey Insurance Brokers. Why is it important to you to sacrifice some of your limited down time to the CFE?

JC: I think it’s important for every business owner to give back to his or her community. In my youth, I chose education as a cornerstone to my own success and wanted to give back to others who have decided the same. The CFE at Cal State, Fullerton was the obvious choice for me as I’m an alumnus of the university.

I first became involved with the CFE’s Student Consulting Program as a client. I purchased Conrey Insurance in 2002 and contracted the Student Consulting Program to do a study for my business. My experience as a client of the program led me to believe I could contribute my business experience to the program, as a mentor, and have been involved at least 1 semester per year since 2003

CI: Why is the Student Consulting Program an important experience for the business students at CSUF?

JC: The entrepreneurial concentration students, who are part of the management program, must complete 4 consulting projects as part of their core courses. I think it’s important for the students to get this experience because teamwork is an important aspect of successful navigation in the business world, as well as the experience of being able to take theoretical applications and apply them to a practical environments is invaluable. I know that coming away from the university, my classroom learning was not as important as my real world training. My classes that had a practical real world business component to them were far more valuable to my professional success.

CI: How has the development and educational experience of business students changed since you were in college?

JC: Boy, it really has changed. The access to information, the Internet, search engines, the numerous ways you can communicate with professors and classmates have really revolutionized the educational experience. Today, students learn collaboration, cooperation, team building, and goal setting. They learn about their personality, whether they are a follower or a leader, and when it’s best to follow or lead. These were things that were not available when I attended college, so it’s very different, and to be quite honest, I’m a little envious of their experience.

CI: How does the CFE’s Student Consulting Program prepare young entrepreneurs for life in the “real” business world?

CJ: Well, it’s real. The business questions are real questions, which apply to real businesses; they identify real problems, and supply real solutions. It is one of the best experiences to prepare them for life in the professional world.

CI: What is the most important piece of advice you give the students you mentor about how to prepare for future success?

CJ: Everything you invest into learning pays dividends in the future. Those who skate by now, will pay for it later; they will find that they lack the dedication and discipline to achieve their goals. In the corporate world, they will find that kind of behavior will cost them promotions, and even employment. I understand how difficult it is to manage work, personal life, and education, but the ability to prioritize and do things to the best of your ability will be rewarded in the end.

CI: In your experience what do the companies who submit case studies to the SBI consulting program gain from their involvement?

CJ: They gain practical advice; they gain out-of-the-box solutions to problems their businesses are facing. They get to preview potential employees, in the students, and gauge their abilities.

CI: What types of businesses have participated in the Student Consulting Program since you’ve been involved with it?

CJ: Oh, I have had at least one per year for the last 10 years, so many different business have been involved. They have ranged from restaurants, manufacturers, lending companies, resorts, and distribution companies to non-profits. There have been a wide variety of clients. The issues have been just as diverse as well, from leadership issues, company culture issues, marketing and branding strategies to operation issues. We have consulted on almost any business issue you can think of.

CI: Obviously your role in the program is to mentor and teach the students, but what have you learned from your students, and how have you grown from being involved in the program?

CJ: I will tell you right now, I have learned just as much from my students as they have learned from me. I have learned how to be objective in a different way; I have learned that a lot of times it’s hard to recognize the real issues facing your company from an “inside the bubble” point of view. I have learned how to better navigate the generational divide. It’s good to work with young people since they bring a fresh perspective to things.

CI: Conrey Insurance provides a scholarship every year to an entrepreneur major at CSUF. How long have you been providing that financial opportunity, and what characteristics do you hope the recipients have?

CJ: We have been doing it now for 6 years. We did it for 4 years at $2,500, 2 years at $3,000, and we have just committed to 3 more years at $3,000. It’s a very rewarding thing. Every recipient has graduated and gone on to be successful in his or her professional careers. I’m still in touch with every one of them.

CI: What about the students you have mentored in the Student Consulting Program? Do you keep in touch with them?

CJ: With some, it really depends on the interaction we had during the project and where their futures took them. I have been invited to weddings and over to student’s homes for dinners. As a matter of fact, I just got completely caught up on a student’s life since leaving school through a series of email correspondences. It has been a very rewarding experience for me to be involved with the CFE as a mentor and “Entrepreneur in Residence.”

CI: Thank you, Jerry.

 

Editor’s note: This blog was re-posted from the Conrey Insurance Brokers Blog at http://www.siatt.com/about-us/our-blog/entrepreneurs_in_residence-_cal_state_fullertons_center_for_entrepreneurship