Monthly Archives: August 2013

Cal State Fullerton Alumna making noise in Chicago

By William LeValley

Cal State Fullerton alumna, Daniela Bolzmann, has had some major changes in her life over the past year. Bolzmann, an Entrepreneurship Graduate from CSUF in 2010, picked up her life here in Southern California and went east to the windy city of Chicago.

While maintaining her job in California by working from Chicago, Bolzmann was interested to get her hands on something local. After one month living in Chicago she participated in a Startup Weekend event where people come together to pitch ideas and build a product in one weekend.

It was there that she would form a team with other entrepreneurs and create the same-day delivery business, now known as WeDeliver. WeDeliver was born and took first place at Startup Weekend Chicago at the end of 2012. After the win, Bolzmann made the leap and quit her job to build WeDeliver full time with her new found team members.

“My experiences in the Entrepreneurship Program at CSUF exposed me to many transferable skills that I am using today. Instead of struggling to find a job after college I created my own opportunities for myself by starting my own companies, first as Founder of SocialSkoop and now as a Co-Founder of WeDeliver,” Bolzmann said.

Headquartered at 1871, a tech hub housing hundreds of start-ups in Chicago, WeDeliver  provides a modern take on same-day delivery for brick and mortar businesses. The company is using a crowd sourcing model for their deliveries and is in the same industry as companies like airbnb and lyft.

At this time, WeDeliver is in Beta and available by invitation only. They are creating jobs in the community and are on track to have over 250 merchants and well over 100 delivery specialists by the end of the year.

The company has caught fire with the people of Chicago too, calling them the “Über-for-deliveries.” Recently, they were featured on the front page of the Chicago Tribune showcasing their efforts in same-day delivery. WeDeliver was also named one of the hot up and coming start-ups in Chicago having won: Startup Weekend Chicago, IBM Global Entrepreneurship Mentor Day and TechWeek Launch 2013. The accomplishments, which include over $100,000 in cash and prizes, have allowed Bolzmann and her co-founders Kirk Lashley and Jimmy Odom to continue to grow the business.

Bolzmann and the WeDeliver team with the Mayor of Chicago after winning Techweek

There is still no telling as to when the company will branch outside of Chicago but at the rate of success they are on, it could be in the foreseeable future. Bolzmann is thriving in Chicago with the tools she learned as a student at CSUF. Implementing them with her passion to build a business of her own has led her to the success of WeDeliver.

Daniela Bolzmann and Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel sharing a fist bump

Bolzmann said: “Moving to Chicago has been a great adventure; we are doing great things for the community here and I cannot wait to bring WeDeliver to California. We have no plans as of yet, but talk to us in 6 months and we may have a different answer for you.”

Social Media Marketing in the United States

On Tuesday, August 20, Center for Entrepreneurship Director John Bradley Jackson had the pleasure to present in front of the Chinese delegation of the Zhejiang Commerce Bureau. Mr. Jackson gave a lecture focused on the role that social media plays in business in the United States.

Mr. Jackson spoke on such topics as:

  • How to use Facebook to gauge customer sentiment
  • Keeping tabs on market changes on Twitter
  • Email marketing is still a relevant source of engagement
  • Blogs are one of the first things that customers look at when researching your company
  • Picture services like Instagram and Pinterest are here to stay and represent a huge amount of traffic
  • YouTube is an excellent source to delve deeper into your sector and has higher engagement levels than written posts

Mr. Jackson was pleased with the enthusiastic reception he received from the crowd of visiting Chinese businesspeople and public officials. “I was very excited to have the opportunity to present in front of this group of people and I am thrilled that my message resonated with them” said Jackson after he finished his presentation.

Professor Bruce Xiao, one of the people responsible for arranging this event, said “the Chinese delegation loved Jackson’s update on social media.”

Jackson recently finished his manuscript for his newest book “Socially Close: Marketing with Social Media.” The book explores social media marketing trends at the small business level. The book will be available is Spring 2014.

Why I Became an Entrepreneurship Major – Megan Baptista

Megan Baptista: CSUF Entrepreneurship Student

My name is Megan Baptista, currently a senior at California State University, Fullerton studying Business Entrepreneurship. When I first came to CSUF, I knew that I wanted to have a career in business, but I couldn’t find a concentration that seemed fitting for the type of businesswoman that I sought to be. I had plans of attending dental school and later opening my own practice. With a business background, it would allow me to be able to run my own practice efficiently. In my sophomore year, I heard that there was an Entrepreneurship concentration that would allow me to learn the practices of owning and operating my own business.

Since declaring a concentration in Entrepreneurship, I have successfully consulted with a fortune 500 company, as well as a small business in the Insurance industry. The projects that are offered through the Entrepreneurship program allowed me to gain experience and deal with real life problems that come with the day to day practice of a business owner.

The Entrepreneurship program also offers many different scholarship opportunities, one of which I am a recipient of. The scholarships offered through this program can be extremely helpful for those dreaming of starting a business. Since discovering Entrepreneurship, I have changed my career path to a full time business student. In the future, I plan to get my masters in Entrepreneurship and further explore opening my own businesses.

You get what you pay for

Are your employees as happy as this squirrel?

We all know McDonald’s pays its employees minimum wage. But did you know that Apple Store employees make about $25k a year?  And that full-time employees at Costco make $40k a year? While both stores are seen as being exceptionally successful, they have very different operating philosophies when it comes to how they treat their employees.

Costco creates an environment that provides long-term career growth for its employees (according to a recent Businessweek article, 98% of its managers are promoted from within), while Apple does not. Rather, Apple takes advantage of its cult-like following and recruits younger folks who love Apple products and feel a “calling” to help make sure others feel the same way. But how long can people be motivated by this sense of higher purpose when the work is stressful and there is little possibility for promotion? About 2.5 years according to the New York Times (the average tenure of an Apple Store employee).

Zeynep Ton’s article in the Harvard Business Review (Why “Good Jobs” are Good for Retailers) sheds light on two paths retailers can take when it comes to their employees. Ton calls the first path a vicious cycle and the second a virtuous cycle. The vicious cycle starts with not investing in employees. This leads to hiring unmotivated or unqualified employees, which in turn hinders operational execution. Unmotivated employees are not likely to put products in the right places or do what is necessary to satisfy customers. And, not surprisingly, the result is a lower level of sales and profits. Even Apple Stores are not immune to this as the Wall Street Journal reports that they are starting to see decreases in sales from a year ago. There is increasing dissatisfaction among employees and even lawsuits.

In contrast, Ton suggests that retailers adopt a virtuous cycle. This starts with investing and empowering employees, which in turn leads to a qualified and motivated workforce. Such a workforce will do what is needed to get things done and typically this means customers walk out of the store satisfied. And the result is that the retailer has higher levels of sales and profits. In addition to Costco, Ton cites Trader Joe’s as an example of a firm that benefits from this virtuous cycle.

Trader Joe’s pays its full-time employees $40-60k a year and its sales per square foot are 3x that of other grocery stores. And here’s an article about a thriving restaurant in Detroit that is paying its employees $12/hr and finding that the employees that can be hired at that wage are extremely hard-working and efficient. Their net increase in labor costs is offset by an increase in sales – exactly what is supposed to happen in a virtuous cycle.

What shall we learn from this? Well, first it looks like those folks in the Hawaiian shirts might be the real geniuses here. More importantly, a good piece of advice for those of you currently running or hoping to launch a retail store is that it’s prudent to invest in your employees and kick-start the virtuous cycle.

The preceding was a post from Dr. Atul Teckchandani, one of the great professors teaching Entrepreneurship at CSUF.

[Image: Wikipedia]