Category Archives: CSUF Entrepreneurship Community

Titan Fast Pitch 2017 Recap

One of the winners of the 2017 Titan Fast Pitch accepting her award from Center for Entrepreneurship Director John Bradley Jackson for a pitch well done!

One of the winners of the 2017 Titan Fast Pitch accepting her award from Center for Entrepreneurship Director John Bradley Jackson for a pitch well done!

The sixth Titan Fast Pitch has come and gone and it was a great success! We had an estimated 400 people in attendance with more than 150 students competing. This year, we had students from multiple universities including Cal State Fullerton, CSULA, Chapman, UCLA, Cal Poly Pomona, and probably a couple of others that I missed.

We also had many high school students competing including Troy High School, Western, and many others. For the first time, middle school students competed as well.

There were two tracks, one for university students and another for high school and middle school students. The competition started off with an introduction from the hosts of the competition. John Bradley Jackson, the Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and the CSUF Startup Incubator, kicked off the competition with a welcome message. He was followed by Dr. Radha Bhattacharya, the Director for the Center for Economic Education, and Will Taormina, the founder of the National Startup League and an alumnus of CSUF Entrepreneurship.

The first round, which we called the Bullpen Round, had all of the students competing. Remember, there were more than 150 students competing so the Pavilions at the Titan Student Union were packed with students pitching their creative ideas! To hear these pitches we assembled about 50 judges, made up of entrepreneurs and professionals from our communities, including the active and generous CSUF Entrepreneurship community.

After fifty minutes the Bullpen Round came to a close. The energy in the room was electric! The students were still bubbling with excitement while we tabulated the judges’ decisions in another room. While the tabulations were going on, a few lucky attendees won some opportunity drawing prizes! These included Amazon gift cards donated by Dr. Atul Teckchandani and CSUF Entrepreneurship Ambassador and Titan Fast Pitch Finals Judge France Dixon Helfer. Some lucky people also won books to advance their entrepreneurial education.

Once the tabulations were complete, we announced the four finalists for the high school and middle school track (more on them later!).

Now that the finalists were announced, Director Jackson kicked off the Lightning Round. During this round, the finalists presented their ideas in sixty seconds to our Lightning Round judges and then they were each asked up to three minutes worth of questions from our judges. The questions were tough but they helped the competitors more fully explain their ideas and got them thinking about their concepts in new ways.

Our Lightning Round judges included:

  • Karl Freels, Dan Black Family Trust
  • Vijay Raman, Vasur Ventures
  • David Morris, Royal Business Bank
  • My-Ngoc Allred, Wells Fargo
  • Michale Sawitz, FastStart.studio
  • France Dixon Helfer, TinyKicks

The Lightning Round is a crucible for these competitors. You will remember that the audience numbered more than 400 so the finalists were not only presenting in front of our august judges but also hundreds of people they have never met before. And they had to answer those tough questions from our judges! Thankfully, the finalists were up for the challenge and they comported themselves extremely well.

Once the Lightning Round finished, the judges retired to another room to deliberate while everyone else had some fun! There was a lot of networking, getting to hear other’s innovative concepts, and we even had the Cal State Fullerton improv club perform. One lucky attendee also won a pair of Laker’s tickets donated by CSUF Entrepreneurship alumnus Sue Mehta! I’m sure they will enjoy those seats.

After a few minutes, the Lightning Round judges made their weighty decisions. For the university and high school/middle school track finalists there were scholarships on the line. The finalists for the university track stood to win:

  • 1st Place: $1,500
  • 2nd Place: $1,000
  • 3rd Place: $500
  • 4th Place: $250

And the finalists in the high school/middle school track stood to win:

  • 1st Place: $400
  • 2nd Place: $300
  • 3rd Place: $200
  • 4th Place: $100

And, the moment you have been waiting for, the winners were:

University Track:

  • 1st Place: Sierra Levanto, Chapman University
  • 2nd Place: Parastoo Delgoshaei, University of Maryland
  • 3rd Place: Lauren Horgan, Cal Poly Pomona
  • 4th Place: Daniel Cazares, Cal State Fullerton

High School/Middle School Track:

  • 1st Place: Hayley Amo
  • 2nd Place: Savannah Gutierrez
  • 3rd Place: Stephen Nguyen and Lyle Lalunio
  • 4th Place: Angel Perez

Congratulations to all those who competed, they may have just taken their first steps into becoming entrepreneurs at the Titan Fast Pitch! I can’t wait to see what is in store for this competition in the future!

If you aren’t already, make sure that you have signed up to be a CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider to keep up to date on all that we are doing. Our next big event is on November 15 when we will be hosting an Open House for our second CSUF Startup Incubator location. This one will be on the CSUF Irvine campus and we couldn’t be more excited about it! We hope to see you there!


#CSUF

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Incubator

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Consulting

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:
http://bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurEvents

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship video series:
http://bit.ly/csufknowledge

52 Hike Challenge – CSUF Wellness Program

52 Hike ChallengeDid you know our very own CSUF Startup Incubator staff member, Phillip Stinis, has started a global movement called the 52 Hike Challenge, which empowers you to take a personal journey to discover the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits gained through hiking? This virtual challenge can be taken by anyone, and now our campus has adopted it as part of their Corporate Wellness Program!

If you would like to learn more, visit www.52HikeChallenge.com

If you are a CSUF Staff or Faculty member, come to their Wellness Program kick-off on campus.  Details below:

JOIN THE 52 HIKE CHALLENGE WELLNESS PROGRAM – A PROGRAM THAT STARTS WITH A 1 MILE WALK 
Facilitator: Phillip Stinis, CSUF Startup Incubator, MCBE Lecturer & 52 Hike Challenge Co-Founder
Come learn how you can join the 52 Hike Challenge community, find well-being, and empowerment through hiking. With the 52 Hike Challenge, you will explore new places, bond with family/friends, meet new friends, gain mental clarity, a sense of accomplishment/ build confidence, and achieve better physical fitness. Join us for the program kick-off on Wednesday, October 25th • 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. • CP-730

Phillip’s Story

Phillip was 80lbs overweight, to make a positive lifestyle change he
took to the trails to get in shape, eventually losing and keeping off
the weight by progressing his hiking capabilities. After going through
a difficult divorce, Karla was inspired by Phillip to begin her own
hiking journey; challenging herself to a hike per week as a means to
get in shape. Once her challenge was complete, Karla couldn’t believe
the positive impact that the outdoors had on her mind, body and soul.

Motivated by their own personal accomplishments, the pair created the
52 Hike Challenge to encourage others to begin their own hiking
challenge and journey. In over 2.5 years, over a quarter million images have been
shared under their hashtags on Instagram alone from participants of the challenge.
The stories from finishers have been so impactful, they started offering
more opportunities for people to take on the challenge, including facilitating city wide efforts
and corporate wellness programs.

Take the story of Elizabeth Labor, from San Diego as an example: “My friend and I from work decided to start going hiking once a week after work. We are middle school teachers in San Diego and wanted to enjoy the vast range of hikes in our own backyard and relieve some stress after the workday. Our hikes together slowly turned in to more teachers joining us, and now we have an official hike club at work. A group of teachers gets together at least once a week after work to try new trails in the area, or stick to our old favorites. This group of women kept me constantly motivated because we all came together with a range of backgrounds and physical abilities, and we were able to connect over a shared interest that I truly believe became a shared passion for all of us. We became support systems for each other on the trails and in the classroom.”

Teachers aren’t the only one’s interested in hiking, college students enjoy spending time outdoors too! Here’s a story from a California State University Student, Rachyl Matis who took the challenge: “I am a 23 year old college student that had no idea how much the 52 Hike Challenge would influence my life. The 52 Hike Challenge was the first time I have ever set a new years resolution/ goal, that I am actually passionate about, and completed! It was such a fulfilling moment when I finished my 52nd hike on the last week of 2015. I am thankful for the dedication this challenge required of me, and the constant encouragement along they way I received from friends, family and other challengers on social media.
Hiking brought a sense of community and encouragement into my life. Not only did hiking create a space for me to meet new people, but also gave people who wouldn’t normally hike an opportunity to join in on the fun! The excitement of hiking with people who had never been before was a way for me to share my passions with others.”

Students are encouraged to sign up on the website at www.52HikeChallenge.com
and get in on the fun as well!


#CSUF

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Incubator

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Consulting

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:
http://bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurEvents

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship video series:
http://bit.ly/csufknowledge

Business as a Machine

Marc Pakbaz gives a talk on how to create a successful startup from the ground up for CSUF Entrepreneurship

Marc Pakbaz gives a talk on how to create a successful startup from the ground up for CSUF Entrepreneurship

Marc Pakbaz is an interesting guy and I like him. I’m going to miss a big portion of his history here but, in short, he is from Iran, lived in France (where he built and sold a business), and now lives in America (where he built and sold a business). He’s a teacher, consultant, serial entrepreneur, and a mentor for CSUF Entrepreneurship. In short, he’s a busy guy and we were ecstatic to have him give a talk for us last night at the CSUF Irvine campus.

At his talk, Marc, as is befitting of someone who has led the life he has, gave a fluent discourse on starting or growing a business from the ground up. For example, he started off talking about the normal litany of startup 101 (i.e. LLC or partnership, etc.) but then a big “X” went through all of those items on his PowerPoint. Those things are important but they shouldn’t monopolize your time as an entrepreneur.

Instead, your first step should be to define your business. This includes what kinds of activities you focus on, developing your clients/customers, and figuring out who your competition is and what they are up to. He goes on from there in great detail about what he focuses on when starting or growing a business but there is one thing in particular that he focused on that I think is really important: A business is a machine.

Specifically, Marc used images of gears to illustrate this concept. First, he showed a picture of a bunch of gears haphazardly thrown into a box. That won’t work, those gears can’t get anything done. Nothing is aligned and the gears are destined to rust away in that box unless something is done.

The next picture that Marc showed was of gears that are now aligned but they all aren’t connected. Some of the gears are connected but not all of them and this, if you’ve studied business, is setting up things in silos. Individual silos may work well but if they aren’t working well together, across the silos, then the business as a whole isn’t aligned. And when all the parts of a business aren’t working together towards the same goal then it won’t be able to accomplish as much as it could.

A business can accomplish a lot when all of the gears are connected and he showed a complicated setup of gears that all worked together. This may seem facile but if you look past the seeming simplicity of the imagery you will quickly realize creating a business so that it works like a machine is no easy matter.

Marc’s an engineer by training and he definitely thinks like one so now you understand why he used the imagery that he did. But the message conveyed by the images of the gears in various stages of connectivity is a vitally important message that every successful entrepreneur or business leader I know agrees with. Startups (and businesses and any other organization that you can think of) work best when all of its parts are working together towards a common goal.

Heck, Abraham Lincoln may have uttered the most well known line about the importance of an organization working together towards a common goal when he uttered “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

So, who cares? (and) What can you do about this?

The thumbnail sketch of the meat of Marc’s talk is: Take the lean canvas model with its nine different categories (i.e. partners, value proposition, channels, revenue, etc.) and make sure that they all work together in harmony.

It’s a lot of work, but, as Marc expertly explained during his talk, it’s definitely worth it.

To learn more about entrepreneurship make sure to go through the Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship series of articles and videos that we have produced for the community. We are frequently adding content to this series (and I hope to add some videos from Marc’s talk to this series soon) and it’s a great way to learn but if you are ready to act I recommend working with our CSUF Consulting program if you have an existing business or the CSUF Startup Incubator if you have a business concept or are looking to grow a new part of an existing business. Our services have helped thousands of businesses develop strategic plans that have achieved great results. To find out more, please get in touch with us at csufentrepreneurship@fullerton.edu.


#CSUF

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Incubator

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Consulting

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:
http://bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurEvents

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship video series:
http://bit.ly/csufknowledge

Millennials and Marketing

The founder of HypeLife Brands, Curt Cuscino, gave a talk for the CSUF Startup Incubator about how to market your business to millennials

The founder of HypeLife Brands, Curt Cuscino, gave a talk for the CSUF Startup Incubator about how to market your business to millennials

Late last month we were lucky enough to have Curt Cuscino in to give a talk called Marketing to Millennials. Curt, just barely a millennial himself, is an entrepreneur and is the Founder and Principal of HypeLife Brands, a progressive brand development and marketing agency accelerating brands into the hearts and minds of the millennial generation.

Curt led a wide-ranging lecture on what makes marketing to millennials different. We will hopefully be posting videos from Curt’s talk to the Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship series but here are a couple of notes that I took at this event:

  • “Millennials are the largest generation on earth with over 75 million people having been born between 1980 and 2000”
    • Whether you love or loathe millennials, chances are that they are at least a small portion of your customer base and, more realistically for most, millennials represent a large part of your customer base. You need to know how to market to them if you want to just keep up.
  • “Millennials are connected to the internet virtually all the time”
    • And they don’t have the same viewing habits as other generations; TV ads may not be the best way to reach them. But I don’t think TV should be totally discounted, it’s just that companies really need to think through what it is they are trying to accomplish and pick the appropriate medium.
  • “Millennials tend to be more tribal”
    • I think that this is true and part of the reason for this has to do with being online virtually all the time. Thanks to the internet the barriers to setting up highly focused group are almost nonexistent nowadays so you will get communities that have very specific, and perhaps even narrow, interests.
  • “Millennials want authenticity”
    • What Curt is saying here is that millennials are not open to traditional advertising techniques where you have the company telling the viewers what they should think. I think part of the explanation here may be that thanks to the proliferation of entertainment mediums the bar has been seriously raised on how brands communicate.
  • “Millennials value experience”
    • Concerts and festivals like Coachella are examples of this. I’d probably ad something like an escape room and Curt brought up the example of how Apple has been able to make owning all of their electronics more life an experience than a simple product.

Curt did go into some details about how he and his company, HypeLife, go about marketing to millennials. Once we have them, we will start to publish some of the videos from this talk to the Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship series.

It was a great talk. In order not to miss any of our upcoming events you can become a CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider and get weekly email updates about our community of entrepreneurs and innovators or you can view all of our events over on Eventbrite. Either way, we hope to see you soon!


#CSUF

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Incubator

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Consulting

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:
http://bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurEvents

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship video series:
http://bit.ly/csufknowledge

CSUF Entrepreneurship Alumna Interviewed by Mihaylo College

Sadaf Salout '07, '10 CSUF Entrepreneurship

Sadaf Salout ’07, ’10 CSUF Entrepreneurship

Sadaf Salout ’07 and ’10 is an entrepreneurial dynamo and she was recently interviewed for the Mihaylo College blog. It’s a great interview that covers her thoughts and advice on entrepreneurship and she goes into detail about her experiences in the restaurant business. Here’s a taste from the interview:

Daniel Coates (Mihaylo College): You opened Sadaf Restaurant at age 26, with juicy chicken as your “claim to fame.” What advice would you give to Mihaylo students and alumni on how they can develop a unique yet actionable restaurant business concept? 

Sadaf Salout: First, do your research and see what’s out there and whether it is working. What can you do differently from the competition? I always remember what John Bradley Jackson, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, said: “You have to be first, best or different.” Also, create focus groups and allow family or friends to critique your concept. Don’t get discouraged when your plan is not working out the way you hoped.

A business plan is invaluable, for it helps to break down your idea or concept and tackle every aspect, such as marketing, finance, operations and organizational strategy. It is important to ask for help, and not try to do everything yourself. If finance is not your strong suit or marketing is not your strong suit, bring in other people who have those strengths.

Make sure to read the whole interview, it’s definitely worth your while.


#CSUF

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Incubator

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Consulting

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:
http://bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurEvents

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship video series:
http://bit.ly/csufknowledge

So you want to build an App?

Dalip Jaggi explains the app development process to the CSUF Entrepreneurship community

Dalip Jaggi explains the app development process to the CSUF Entrepreneurship community

I’m not going to start this post off with the cliche “If you build it, they will come” but….

But many people do think that way; for them there isn’t much space between the epiphany and the first version of their product. Or their app.

In many ways, building an app is a lot like building a business. At least it is for Dalip Jaggi, the founder of Devise Interactive.

Dalip has helped many businesses develop their brands and a central part of that process for many of his clients is the development of an app as well. For Dalip, an app can be a central part of a company’s branding and a conduit for continued communication between his clients and their customers. In other words, developing a quality app is critical.

And how do you develop a quality app?

It’s not an easy task but for Dalip, who shared the app development process that he uses when working with his clients with members of the CSUF Entrepreneurship community Wednesday night in Irvine, but by and large the process is not too dissimilar to that of lean startup.

When Dalip first starts working with a client on the building of an app he helps the client determine what their goals are for their app. Do they want users of their app to be able to purchase their products? Do they want users to use the app to find out information about their upcoming tour schedule? Do they want users to be able to use the app to communicate with them?

All those scenarios and the countless other use cases for apps require different solutions. And once the ultimate goal of the app is discerned Dalip and his team get to work on creating a wire frame, or basic structure of how the different pages of the app will interact with one another. This is an iterative process and there are no design elements introduced at this time because there are inevitably so many changes that take place.

The wire frame stage is where clients start to see their vision come to life. They are able to make informed decisions on what they want each page to do and how they interact with one another.

Once the wire frame is complete, then Dalip and his team get to work on the design of the app. Lots of decisions are made at this stage as well with the goal of staying consistent with the client’s branding as well as creating an app that is intuitive to use and achieves the overall goal of the client.

But that’s not the end of it! Once the app has been built then Dalip gets to work on a plan of action to get as many targeted customers to download the app and use it. This includes the implementation of robust analytics to see how people are using the app in addition to the marketing plan for getting people to use it.

There’s obviously a lot more to it then that, and the whole process can take a long time, especially if changes are made (which is why doing a good job at the wire frame stage is so important). While Dalip has created an app for a client in less than three days, the reality of the situation is that it will take weeks, if not months, to create an effective app.

We did take video of this event and will be posting key segments from this talk to our Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship video series over the coming weeks. So make sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter, the CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider, to make sure that you don’t miss any of these videos.

And we look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming events.


#CSUF

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Incubator

For more details on how CSUFConsulting can help businesses thrive:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Consulting

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:
http://bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurEvents

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship video series:
http://bit.ly/csufknowledge

 

Meet a Startup Founded by two Cal State Fullerton Alumni

In this week’s CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider Director John Bradley Jackson highlights an up-and-coming startup founded by two Cal State Fullerton graduates that will help students pass their courses in the fall and beyond.

Brent Maxinoski ’17 and Cayman Elkin ’17, both recent Entrepreneurship graduates at Cal State Fullerton, are working on a startup that will help students pass the most difficult classes. As CSUF students, they saw how certain courses, what they refer to as “bottleneck” courses, could derail good students from graduating. As a professor, I know about these courses as well; some of these courses have failure rates of nearly 40% and that is a problem.

What Brent and Cayman have set out to do with Wecademi is bring together students who are encountering some difficulties with these courses with people who have already taken these courses and excelled. Wecademi will be, as they describe it, the Airbnb of tutoring.

Entrepreneur in Residence Travis Lindsay was able to sit down with them for a few minutes recently at the CSUF Startup Incubator to talk with them about their business and what they have planned for the future and you can see the interview by going to Cal State Fullerton Startup – Wecademi.

Changing course a bit, this Wednesday at 6pm at the CSUF Irvine campus we will host Dalip Jaggi from Devise Interactive and he will be giving a talk titled: What You Need to know to Build a Profitable App. I’m looking forward to this talk as it’s very relevant to many of the entrepreneurs that we work with and we hope to see you there!

Sincerely,

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

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