Category Archives: Business Concepts

CSUF Startup Featured in OC Register

In this edition of the CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider Director John Bradley Jackson highlights the progress that a startup two of our students founded a year ago has made and how the first step to becoming an entrepreneur is telling people about your idea (A great place to do that for current university and high school students is at the Titan Fast Pitch competition on October 21!).

Last week, the OC Register featured a startup founded by two of our recent graduates. The startup, Wecademi, was founded by Brent Maxinoski ’17 and Cayman Elkin ’17 in our CSUF Entrepreneurship classes. Their mission is to help students pass the most difficult classes they will take. To learn more about these two I urge you to read the OC Register article and watch the interview that we did with them over the summer.
These are still early days for Wecademi and I expect there are many chapters yet to be written about this business. But their journey is underway and I am hopeful that it will have a good ending for Brent and Cayman.
Entrepreneurship is interesting because there is no obvious path to for an entrepreneur to follow. Every entrepreneur has to figure things out as they go but, as we teach in class and the CSUF Startup Incubator, there is a process for figuring out that path.
But entrepreneurs must still take that first uncertain step into the unknown and a good first step to take is to tell people about your idea. For current university and high school students that first step can be the Titan Fast Pitch competition that we are hosting on October 21. Or that first step could be simply talking to people you already know and trust. Whatever the case, I have found that openly discussing your ideas give them nourishment and help them grow.
If you have an idea for a business I would welcome the opportunity to discuss it with you.

John Bradley Jackson
Director and Professor
CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship, CSUF Consulting,
& CSUF Startup Incubator

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Trade Secret Protection – Key Points for Entrepreneurs to Know

Stephen LaCount Intellectual Property Talk Trade Secrets CSUF Startup Incubator IrvineDuring Stephen LaCount’s talk titled Intellectual Property and the Entrepreneur at the CSUF Irvine campus Stephen went over a lot of interesting topics; topics that are immediately valuable to the entrepreneurs that were there. One of the parts of his talk that I liked in particular was his information on trade secret protection.

Here are some key takeaways that I had:

  • If you do it right, a trade secret can last forever (i.e. Coca Cola)
  • “Trade Secret” means information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process that: 1. Derives independent economic value… from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by other persons… and 2. Is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.
    • This is from the Model Trade Secrets Act
  • One example that Stephen gave was how Texas Instruments successfully sued someone who flew a plane over a factory that they were building so that he could get pictures of how they were doing things, which violated their trade secrets
    • (I tried finding this story but, alas, couldn’t find it)
  • If the company or person with a trade secret doesn’t properly maintain it’s trade secrets then they will go to the public domain
    • That is, obviously, not good, so you have to work to protect your trade secrets
  • How to protect your Trade Secrets:
    • Restrict visitors to your work site – control or deny access to sensitive areas
    • Limit disclosure – implement strict “need to know” standard
    • Internal procedures and safeguards – you will need to create these, train your people on how to properly follow them, and have a system that ensures employee fidelity to your procedures and safeguards
    • Explicit written agreements: what is being disclosed and for what purpose?
      • Any relationship of importance should have a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) attached to it
    • Stamp and legend documents: such as “Confidential and Proprietary”; “Do Not Duplicate or Distribute”
  • Even though there is a lot that goes into protecting a trade secret there is no paperwork that you have to file with the government and a trade secret theoretically will never expire
  • What about past employees? Do they have to protect trade secrets from their former employer?
    • The answer is, of course, yes. Past employees do have a duty to protect the trade secrets of their former employees

The part about trade secrets was only a small fraction of Stephen’s overall talk and we will be working on putting together video segments of this talk for our Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship video series and Stephen’s segments will be published over the next couple of months.

So make sure to check back in frequently so you won’t miss any of the videos or, better yet, become a CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider. Insiders get a weekly update featuring the ideas, news, events, and success stories that are coming out of the CSUF Entrepreneurship community.


For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive:

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship video series:

The Biggest Mistake Entrepreneurs Make in Product Development – Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship

The Biggest Mistake that Entrepreneurs can make when Developing a Product

Having reviewed thousands of businesses and investing in multiple startups, Tech Coast Works Managing Director Jeff Greenberg knows a thing or two about product development. In this video in the Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship series taken at the CSUF Startup Incubator, Jeff goes into detail about the product development process and explains what the biggest mistake is that entrepreneurs can make when developing a new product.

Jeff details how smart entrepreneurs avoid this common pitfall by using the lean startup methodology. It all starts with the minimum viable product (MVP) and continues on with multiple iterations and A/B testing resulting in a much better product, a product that customers actually want.

Jeff Greenberg:


For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive:

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:

Find Your Entrepreneurial Fit

Every week in the CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider you can learn important things to help you start your business. This week is no different.

I frequently have conversations with entrepreneurs, many of them are first time entrepreneurs, who are enthusiastic about an idea but don’t know where to start. Sometimes they just need a little bit of help and then they are on their way to making a successful launch. But then there are those times when the entrepreneur I am talking to just doesn’t fit their idea.

They don’t fit their idea for any number of reasons but one of the main reoccurring reasons is that they don’t have the necessary skills to make their idea into a business. It’s a tough situation because I can see the obvious passion they have for their idea but it just doesn’t make sense for them to pursue that idea the way they are thinking they should.

For any entrepreneur considering the launch of a new business a good exercise to do is to sit down and honestly assess your skills. After you have written down your skills go back to your idea, or concept, and determine how good of a fit you are for your idea. If there is a mismatch you can tweak your idea to make it a better fit or you can add people with the skills you are lacking onto your startup team.

Perusing through the Success Stories from the CSUF Entrepreneurship community you can quickly see that those entrepreneurs have successfully leveraged their skills to start their businesses. And I have to thank Damon Brown for bringing this topic up at his recent talk. This is a simple but important lesson that many people don’t consider before starting a business.


John Bradley Jackson
Director & Professor
CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship, CSUF Consulting,
& CSUF Startup Incubator

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Entrepreneur Mentor Office Hours: Startup Expert Jim Cooper @ CSUF Startup Incubator

This Friday from 10am to 4pm startup expert Jim Cooper will be hosting office hours at the CSUF Startup Incubator. For more details and to reserve some time with Jim please go here:


This Friday from 10am to 4pm startup expert Jim Cooper will be holding office hours at the CSUF Startup Incubator to help you figure out how to launch your business.

Launching a business can be an extremely difficult thing to do, especially if you haven’t done something like it before. That’s why we are making office hours with CSUF Startup Incubator mentor and speaker Jim Cooper available.

During these office hours, entrepreneurs will have the chance to sit down with experienced startup mentor Jim Cooper for a half an hour to get help with their business. A half an hour may not seem like a long time but Jim is full of ideas and advice and we’re sure that he’ll be able to help your business.

To make an appointment, please click the registration button above and pick the half hour timeslot that works the best for you.

(One note of caution: Help provided during office hours is limited to the time available during office hours and to get the best results out of this time we strongly recommend that you have a more permanent mentor, like the ones that are attached to our Residents at the CSUF Startup Incubator.)

Jim Cooper is the founder of Conscientia Research. As the founder of Conscientia Research, his main mission can be described by the following:

“Our goals are to make your business successful and competitive by employing research to understand markets, manage risk through intelligence analysis, and provide you with recommendations for decision making, so you don’t have to rely on assumptions about how your market works.”

Jim is a mentor to some of our Residents at the CSUF Startup Incubator. Jim also runs Braid Theory, an Incubator and Accelerator for early stage tech startups. He is also mentor and pitching coach at PortTech Los Angeles, advisor at Lab Launch Inc., mentor and Lean Startup Panelist for the NSF’s i-Corps CSUPerb STEM program for the CSU system, he mentors and coaches energy and transport related startups at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, an Entrepreneur in Residence at PortTech Los Angeles, and a Business Development Advisor at Lab Launch Inc.


Become a CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider to keep up-to-date on all the events, news, and everything else we do:

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:

Attend one of our entrepreneur events or sign up for a free mentoring session:

CSUF Entrepreneurship Students Create Business Plan, Present to Investor Panel

piano-with-jonnyThe panel is awesome – I love that as students, we have the chance to present real ideas to real business owners, entrepreneurs, investors, and bankers.  Few other classes offer the practical feedback and hands-on work that I have experienced in Management 465A.  It is one of the best Entrepreneurship classes, and I highly recommend it to other students.

Those are some of the thoughts from Jonny May, the creator of Piano with Jonny and one of our CSUF Entrepreneurship students who had the opportunity to give a fifteen minute presentation to a panel of experts on the progress they have made in launching their businesses followed by fifteen minutes of hard hitting questions from those same experts. As you can guess, this is a pressure packed experience but it is also a unique opportunity to get feedback from a diverse group of experts.

But let me take a step back since these panels are the culmination of a semester’s worth of work on the part of CSUF Entrepreneurship students.

At the beginning of every semester, students in Management 465A and 465B coalesce into teams with the mission of either creating a business plan for a concept (465A) or work on launching a business (465B). In Jonny’s case, he is a student in Management 465A and he led his team in the creation of a business plan for his concept: Piano with Jonny. (And, to be perfectly honest, Jonny’s team had a bit of a head start since Jonny has been working on this business for a couple of years now and is already in revenue. But, as you will see, Jonny has leveraged his experience in this class to crystallize his business’ strategy and develop a plan to make his business stronger and well positioned for growth.)

If I could show you a montage right now, I would, because in between the formation of the teams at the beginning of the semester and the panels at the end there is a lot of hard work that largely goes uncelebrated. It is during the semester that the teams work on developing their marketing strategy, interviewing customers to unearth key insights into their thinking, put together an operations plan with a budget, and do all of the other work that is necessary to craft a meaningful business plan that can be used to launch or grow a business and maybe even using the plan when in discussions with potential investors.

And it is this hard work that helps students get to the heart of the matter for their businesses. From Jonny: “The class has forced me to think more deeply about why our customers buy and where to put more of our efforts.  Through customer interviews and competitive analysis, it is now much more clear where we are not being effective and where we can add huge value for our customers.”

The panels that we have already talked about a little are the culmination of all this hard work. Over the course of the three months that make up a semester, many students, including Jonny, dedicate 100+ hours to the completion of their project whether that is the creation of a business plan or work on launching a business. In Jonny’s case, it was a little of both.

The panels are no small matter. As Jonny said at the beginning of this article, we make sure to pick some heavy hitters to be judges. At the most basic level, these panels represent a crucial academic event for our students; having the opportunity to present such a complex and important project is nerve racking for the students but they pretty much always rise to the occasion.

Jack Mixner, one of our professors teaching this class, puts it this way: “Preparing to present to real investors is challenging, daunting – and  exciting. The preparation pays off. Presentations evolve quickly into unexpectedly high level conversations between ‘entrepreneurs’ and ‘investors.’ Students share. They learn. And the investors? They share, too, with sometimes very unexpected and useful points of view that the students, their mentors – and their professors – had not expected. Everybody wins.”

But for students like Jonny who are leveraging this unique academic experience to create something real and hopefully long lasting the panels can represent a crucial turning point in the success of their ventures.

“[The panel] was very helpful – I had to learn how to sell my business and ‘take the heat’ from experts.  I knew they would ask hard questions, so I really had to become familiar with my business in a way I never have.  I learned that we have a highly scaleable business and that we should be charging more for our products,” said Jonny.

We are obviously very proud of the work that Jonny and his team, which includes fellow CSUF Entrepreneurship students Sylvia Dang, Johnny Pen, and Reuben Ponce De Leon and mentor Craig Martyn have done. And the same is true for all of our other teams in these classes. Most will not end in successfully launched business but the experience of trying is invaluable and will certainly help them in all their future endeavors.

And in Jonny’s case, we are looking forward to not only working with him as a student but also as a Resident at the CSUF Startup Incubator. Jonny was accepted into the Incubator just a few days ago because we see a great deal of potential in his business and we believe he’s the kind of entrepreneur that has the capability and drive to make his startup into a sustainable business. We will be working closely with him in the classroom and at the Incubator over the next six months and by the end of that time we believe Jonny will be well on his way towards taking Piano with Jonny to the next level.

Stay tuned!

#CSUFEntrepreneur #CSUFStartup

Become a CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider to keep up-to-date on all the events, news, and everything else we do:

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:

Attend one of our entrepreneur events or sign up for a free mentoring session:

CSUF Entrepreneurship Students Launch 360 Photo Business

The SphereHero team getting ready to take a photo at a networking event. Photo taken by Classic Gentleman.

The SphereHero team getting ready to take a photo at a networking event. Photo taken by Classic Gentleman.

About a week ago we posted CSUF Entrepreneurship Success Story: Students Launch 360 Photography Business. There are many stories like this at CSUF Entrepreneurship and the reason why this is the case is because we have an active community of entrepreneurs and innovators who work together to achieve great things.

We want you to be a part of this community as well! Become a CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider to find out about all the different ways you can get involved and create something cool!

What follows is the weekly email that we send to CSUF Entrepreneurship Insiders.

“A group of CSUF students sat around a table staring at a strange looking orb in the middle. One of them shouted “Smile!” and pressed a button on his phone. This was the first photo that the SphereHero team took since getting their 360 degree camera.”

That is how the article, CSUF Entrepreneurship Success Story: Students Launch 360 Photography Business, starts out. It goes on to tell the very interesting story about how this group of CSUF student-entrepreneurs started their business in a very young industry and what they have accomplished so far. I think you will be hearing more about them in the future!

Innovative students like the team from SphereHero will be at the Titan Fast Pitch on Saturday, October 29 and we hope that you can attend as a competitor or audience member as well! There are scholarship prizes of up to $1,500 available and the Titan Fast Pitch will be a great place to meet other innovators.

Switching focus to this week, we welcome entrepreneur Jeff Greenberg to the CSUF Startup Incubator this Wednesday at 6pm to give a talk titled The Evolution of a Startup. In this talk, Jeff will go into detail about the key metrics he uses to determine how well a startup is transitioning into a successful business.

We also are hosting office hours, which are your time to sit down one-on-one with one of our expert mentors, this week at the CSUF Startup Incubator. This week, CFO Andrew Carroll will have office hours on Monday and entrepreneur professor Jeff Longshaw will have office hours Tuesday afternoon and lawyer David Van Sambeek will have office hours Tuesday evening. Also, on Thursday we will be hosting the CSUF Entrepreneur Roundtable where entrepreneurs can go for advice and to be held accountable for how well they have met their goals.

We hope to see you soon!


John Bradley Jackson
Director, CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship


Student-Entrepreneurs: It’s time for you to crush it!
Clear your calendar – It’s going down! The Titan Fast Pitch Competition kicks off Saturday October 29th, 2016 at 1pm and you’re invited! Come compete with or watch the most innovative student-entrepreneurs vie for a spot on the winner’s podium and their share of scholarships. All finalists are chosen in real time.


There is always a lot of promise in startups: the sky is the limit!
But getting from startup to a sustainable and profitable business is not easy. It’s a difficult undertaking that most entrepreneurs, especially first time entrepeneurs, aren’t prepared for. Basically, trying to take a startup and make it into a successful business for most people is like trying to find buried treasure without a map.
That is why we are so glad to have Jeff Greenberg in to talk. He has six key metrics that he uses that determine how well a startup is doing in making that transition into a successful business. Those metrics are: Product, Management, Financing, Staffing, Revenue, and Operations. Come by to find out what these metrics are, how to interpret them, and how they change as a startup evolves into a successful business.


Are you struggling with your Digital Marketing plan? Marking Experts Ryan and James Fratzke can help.

As Strategic Account Managers the Fratzke Brothers work with some of the nations largest brands. Join us on Wednesday October 26th as they share their Seven Principles for Digital Marketing Success. They will share proven tactics for Website & SEO, Social Media, Email Marketing, Digital Advertising, Online Reviews, Local Listings, and Content Marketing.


Center for Entrepreneurship Board Member, Andrew Carroll, has a ton of financial and accounting experience he will share with anyone who visits him during his office hours later today. Click below to find out how to visit him during his office hours.


For over 24 years, Professor Jeff Longshaw, MBA, MSBA, has been a business management and communication consultant, teaching proposal writing and composition to companies to improve their win rate.  While he has managed and participated in over 20 large scale proposals for Westinghouse, Lockheed, Bath Ironworks, General Dynamics and others; he has also produced business plans for start-up companies.


David Van Sambeek is an attorney for Wellman & Warren, LLP and he has graciously agreed to hold office hours at the CSUF Startup Incubator regularly for our Residents, students, and everyone else in the CSUF Entrepreneurship community. Click below to find out how to visit him during his office hours.


The CSUF Entrepreneurship Alumni host a business roundtable on the third Thursday of every month at the CSUF Startup Incubator and all are encouraged to attend these free meetings. Bring your entrepreneurial ideas, challenges, or just sit in and listen!
The CSUF Entrepreneur Roundtable features a fantastic group of mentors with impressive backgrounds so that every participating entrepreneur will get tremendous feedback on what they are working on. Don’t be shy! This can turn out to be one of the most consequential entrepreneurial events you ever attend.
Upcoming CSUF Entrepreneur Roundtables:


Being successful with online marketing can make the difference between success or failure for your business.

That is why we are very happy to bring in Jason Khoo for office hours! Jason is the Marketing Director at Ron Wave Design and he has given a talk at the CSUF Startup Incubator titled: “An Entrepreneur’s Guide to SEO” (video here).


Dave Kinnear is one of our great mentors at the CSUF Startup Incubator who will be holding office hours to answer your startup and strategy questions.

Dave Kinnear is a Business Advisor, Mentor and Executive Leader Coach.  Through his affiliation with Vistage International, Dave convenes and facilitates peer advisory boards of Business Owners, Company Presidents, General Managers and Chief Executives dedicated to becoming better leaders who make better decisions and achieve better results.

Get Involved with CSUF Consulting and the CSUF Startup Incubator
Whether you are a professional who gets satisfaction from being a mentor to someone who wants to work in a startup as a team member or are interested in investing in some of our thriving startups; we want to hear from you!
To join our large professional network you don’t have to be an alumni but we need your expertise and hard work to help make Northern Orange County (especially Fullerton) a strong startup community! Please take a minute to tell us about yourself so we can properly welcome you into the CSUF Startup Community.

“The students did a great job of digging deeper than necessary to get a grade and worked the issues as if for their own company.”

James L. Breese, President, WestLand Engineering Co
To find out how we can tailor a project to fit your business’ needs contact our Client Project Specialist, Charlesetta Medina at (657) 278-8243 or to request an application email
#CSUFEntrepreneur #CSUFStartup
For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:
For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:

Attend one of our entrepreneur events or sign up for a free mentoring session: