Monthly Archives: August 2014

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. Continue reading

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 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 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

Continue reading

5th Annual Food Entrepreneur’s Workshop

Students interested in participating need to register with their .edu email address using the promo code “arugula” by September 11th to get 50% off of the registration price. They will also need to present their valid student ID during check in.

Picture - From Recipe to RetailREGISTER NOW!!!

September 26th and 27th
8:00AM – 5:00PM

Ever dreamed about starting your own food company but didn’t know where to begin?

Chapman University’s Annual Food Entrepreneur’s Workshop will take you through the steps necessary to launch your new product idea with success!

Designed especially for early stage entrepreneurs, this workshop will provide a roadmap on bringing a food product to market. Participants will learn how to start a food business including developing a winning formulation, finding a manufacturer, negotiating with brokers and distributors, writing an effective business plan, obtaining capital backing, and marketing most effectively to ensure that their product will succeed in the marketplace

The faculty includes a blend of educators, co-packers, buyers, distributors, and successful entrepreneurs who all have a passion for helping you build the next sustainable and profitable food company. Please share this information with your entrepreneurial colleagues and friends.


CSUF Entrepreneurship Success Story: Patrick Hayes ’14

(Excerpted from the Mihaylo College Blog)CSUF Success Story Patrick Hayes '14Patrick Hayes ’14 began building his own furniture when he first moved out of his parent’s home at age 20. An aspiring artist, he did not have the money or resources to buy furniture, so he built functional, yet crude, desks and tables. He spent the first few years touring with his band and took classes at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa when he had the chance.

While on tour in Texas, the band came across an abandoned beer brewing factory. He and a friend decided to sneak in and take a few pictures, similar to the works of Rob Dobi, a photographer he admired in high school who documented old buildings.

“Despite the police showing up, I knew I had found another passion,” Hayes says. Continue reading

GSEA Student Entrepreneur Competition

GSEA Winner - Student Entrepreneurship ContestEO Orange County is hosting its very first Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA), the world’s premier business competition for undergraduate college students across the globe. GSEA connects the world’s emerging student entrepreneurs with peers, mentors and the opportunity to learn and grow through a worldwide competition.

The Orange County EO Chapter is looking for students from Cal State Fullerton to apply for the preliminary GSEA competitions at the Center Club in Costa Mesa on August 14th and September 24th. One finalist from Orange County will be rewarded with in-kind and cash prizes ($5,000 value) and will go on to compete at the National Competition with an all-expenses-paid trip to Chicago in November! Continue reading