Category Archives: CSUF Startup Incubator

How Entrepreneurs Can Raise Money from Banks

There are many recurring themes to the posts on this blog and to our CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider. There are so many things that entrepreneurs need to have some fluency in and fundraising, whether for a business or a nonprofit, is one of the important ones. There are no easy answers to how entrepreneurs should raise money to fund their startup but, as is I feel is the case with everything in business and life, knowing what your options are is important.

Banks can be a good way to raise money for your startup. Getting funding from a bank won’t be easy, especially if you’re in the earliest stages of launching your startup and have no track record to speak of, but it certainly is an option that entrepreneurs need to understand. This Wednesday at 6pm at the CSUF Startup Incubator in Irvine we welcome Charlie Phillips, the AVP of South County Bank in so that he can explain how entrepreneurs should approach raising funds from a bank. Register now!

Nearly every entrepreneur that I talk with has questions about raising money to fund their startup. These conversations usually start out with exhortations to bootstrap until they start to get some traction. But bootstrapping usually isn’t enough, especially for startups that have aggressive growth plans.

One form of funding that I think entrepreneurs should give more thought to is also one of the more traditional forms of funding (at least for established businesses) and that is your local bank.

This Wednesday at our office in Irvine we welcome the AVP of South County Bank, Charlie Phillips, to walk us through the game plan that entrepreneurs should follow when approaching a bank. Debt financing is, obviously, substantially different from equity financing and there are good ways and bad ways to go about trying to secure loans from banks. Charlie will present a strategy entrepreneurs should follow in order to get their best result possible.

The talk is this Wednesday at 6pm in Irvine. Please register for this event by going to the event page.

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

Continue reading

Leverage Market Insights into Startup Success! @ CSUF Startup this Wednesday in Irvine

Barry Lieberman

Barry Lieberman

This Wednesday at 6pm we welcome Barry Lieberman to the CSUF Startup Incubator in Irvine to talk about the many lessons he has learned in growing businesses from a variety of industries. Attendance is free, register now, (you will have to pay for parking if you don’t already have a parking pass) and below is some more information about this important event.

There is nothing worse for us at the CSUF Startup Incubator then seeing entrepreneurs come in with fully made products that they can’t seem to figure out how to sell. It’s a tough situation, it really is, but the best solution that we can give these entrepreneurs is to restart with the most important question an entrepreneur should concern himself with: What does the customer want?

Sometimes, entrepreneurs and executives forget this simple question and will focus their company’s limited resources on products and services that their customers do not want. This is a bad spot to be in and while the best solution is to keep the customers’ wants at the forefront of your strategy all the time there is still hope for those entrepreneurs who fall astray of this.

Our speaker, Barry Lieberman, has started businesses and turned around existing businesses all with a focus on discerning who his customers are, what they want, and, most importantly, why they make the decisions that they make. In this talk at the CSUF Startup Incubator, Barry will delve into the strategies that he has used over the last couple of decades as a successful entrepreneur and turnaround specialist. These strategies will be useful to entrepreneurs of all kinds, whether you are just starting out or you have created a product that you cannot find a product-market fit for we think that this talk can significantly help you.

We hope to see you there!

More about Barry

Barry is a passionate leader and operations expert with deep experience in scaling business operations, product commercialization, market fit & customer lifecycle marketing. He orchestrates the people, processes, capital and technology that enables an organization to increase revenue, market position and customer care.

Over the past 10 years he has been in executive roles as a change artist to enable organizations (Western Digital, Targus, Q-See, ATEN/IOGEAR, etc.) to implement modern marketing, demand generation and customer care operations.

For 17 years he owned and operated Advantage Plus Marketing Group, Inc. (APMG), an early pioneering B2B marketing services firm focused on executing demand/lead generation marketing programs for major technology brands (HP, Oracle, Sun, DEC, Compaq, IBM, Cognos, Avnet, WebEx, Audi, Hyandai, Liberty Mutual, HireRight, etc.).

To make an appointment for these office hours, please click the registration button above and pick the half hour timeslot that works best for you. If you have a lot of questions, you may select two half hour timeslots. Please cancel or reschedule with a 24 hour notice so that others may claim that time slot.

Directions and Parking

You will need to purchase a parking permit to park on this campus. Our office is located in the building at 1 Banting, which is the main building for Western State Law School. You cannot park in their parking lot, you will need to park on the Cal State Fullerton side. Information for parking, including how to purchase a parking pass for your meeting, can be found here: http://www.fullerton.edu/irvine/about/campusmap.php


#CSUF

Keep in touch with the weekly CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider:
bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurInsider

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:
bit.ly/csufentrepreneurship

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:
bit.ly/csufincubator

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive:
bit.ly/csufconsulting

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

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship:
bit.ly/CSUFknowledge

To connect with the CSUF Entrepreneurship team:
csufentrepreneurship@fullerton.edu

Continue reading

6 Things Our Business School Teaches Students About Entrepreneurship

CSUF Startup Competition Semifinals Vanessa Ganaden and Rachel Herzog

Two CSUF Entrepreneurship students, Vanessa Ganaden (left) and Rachel Herzog (right), pitching their concept at the recent CSUF Startup Competition Semifinals. They are advancing to the Finals of the competition where they stand to win part of the more than $10,000 in scholarships and in-kind services!

We were recently sent an article titled 6 Things Business School Won’t Teach You About Entrepreneurship by Corey Ferreira that we largely agree with and completely disagree with at the same time. Mr. Ferreira’s contention is that business schools do not teach entrepreneurship in a way that is actionable for most people. He goes on to list six areas where business schools are deficient. We largely agree with his view of entrepreneurship and how for most of us entrepreneurship is about hustling and getting things done with limited resources.

But we have to disagree with his contention that business schools, especially the business school at Cal State Fullerton, do not prepare students well enough for this reality. At Cal State Fullerton we teach students many of the lessons Mr. Ferreira outlines in his article and we build on that through the CSUF Startup Incubator, entrepreneurial student clubs, and competitions like the upcoming CSUF Startup Competition. Below are my responses to the six areas Mr. Ferreira identified in his article.

A business can be scrappy

Our curriculum and our students embody scrappiness. We teach our students what it means to bootstrap a business and bolster those teachings with many guest speakers who have been there, done that. Mr. Ferreira rightly notes that many startups have to embrace a scrappy ethic in order to launch their business and we inculcate our students with hard won lessons on how to do that.

For example, central to much of our teaching is the need to create a minimum viable product (MVP) because that way you can test your hypothesis about what your customers want without having to create a finished product out of the gate. Buttressing the MVP is market research that involves actually getting out of the building and talking with potential customers. This process gives entrepreneurs with limited resources the best opportunity for success because they will inevitably find out so much valuable information from interviewing customers, launching an MVP, and iterating off of their results.

In a bygone era the formula was to come up with an idea, raise money, and launch at scale. Those days aren’t completely gone but for the vast majority of businesses those days aren’t around anymore. So, we agree on the necessity of launching with a lean business model but I cannot agree with his contention that business schools, at least ours, don’t teach realistic business practices.

Plans aren’t the most important thing

In the CSUF entrepreneurship program, we agree that plans aren’t the most important thing. They’re important as far as they go; they help to crystallize the entrepreneur’s vision and helps him think through the process of launching a business but, as we teach all of our students, plans should be written in pencil. Changes will inevitability happen when faced with results that do not meet the entrepreneur’s hypothesis about any facet of his business.

In the classroom, we give supremacy to the creation of a lean business model canvas, which is a one page document that succinctly lays out the nine most important factors that determine a business’ success. That’s right, a one page document. Yes, we do have the students go through the process of filling out those key hypotheses found in the lean model in a full business plan but we stress the necessity of creating a plan that must be updated frequently and having an entrepreneurial mindset that embraces nimbleness and the ability to change. As Mr. Ferreira notes, these are called pivots and this is a concept that is very familiar to all of our students.

How to set goals

Mr. Ferreira states that: “So many entrepreneurs know what they want to do, but they don’t really  know how to do it. Setting goals makes it easier to determine the path  since you can reverse-engineer from where you want to be.”

We can quibble on this. In the CSUF Entrepreneurship program we favor the ground up approach to planning and then setting goals that are hard to achieve but not impossible. Goal setting done right is a skill that must be learned by doing and we have a program that stresses doing. Every one of our entrepreneurship students works on a startup with the goal being to go from concept to launch. These businesses are incubated in the classroom over the course of two semesters with the guidance of faculty and mentors (our mentor pool of over 600 people includes professionals from all disciplines and many entrepreneurs).

Goal setting is also baked into our curriculum through the processes already discussed in this post as part of the process of iterating from MVP to a final product. We believe and teach our students that what isn’t measured doesn’t improve and it is goals that are measured.

Marketing in the 21st century

Mr. Ferreira accurately describes the ephemeral nature of marketing today. Social media, by design, is geared towards the creation of content that has a very short lifespan. Glance at a Tweet, move on. Read a Facebook post, move on. Watch a video on YouTube, move on. The staccato nature of today’s media is ever changing and keeping up with everything is impossible.

And yet, we do teach how to thrive in this atmosphere by drawing on many of the same lessons that are applicable in other parts of our entrepreneurial curriculum. By discovering and knowing who your customers are and experimenting on how to effectively communicate with them you can set yourself up for success. All of our professors draw on their academic research or professional experiences to teach modern marketing techniques to our students.

How to be creative

The ineffable qualities of creativity are hard to teach, says Mr. Ferreira, and he’s pretty much right about that. But there are ways to teach students so that they can maximize the creative gifts that they already posses. At CSUF Entrepreneurship we view creativity as if it were a muscle, the more you work at it the stronger your creative muscle becomes.

While there isn’t a formula for creativity we have developed our curriculum so that our students have many opportunities to work out their creative muscles. All students majoring in entrepreneurship at Cal State Fullerton get the opportunity to do consulting working for actual businesses. Our CSUF Consulting program enables students to put into practice the lessons that they have learned in the classroom and that is an extremely creative process. Figuring out ways to create winning strategies for clients in a wide range of areas (including: marketing, operations, leadership, and finance) is a fantastic way to develop a student’s creativity.

Risk-taking

The CSUF Entrepreneurship program has a somewhat more nuanced view of risk taking than Mr. Ferreira has. The way we see it, all risks are not equal. Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to build an app that you think the market wants is certainly a risk but it is not a good risk.

We teach our students to take small, containable risks that can be used as stepping stones towards creating products and services that the market actually wants. At its core, entrepreneurship is about trailblazing but it’s not about the kind of Leroy Jenkins-style trailblazing that almost always ends in doom and despair.

In the classroom, we do teach our students that failure is a fundamentally healthy part of entrepreneurship. This can be seen in everything that we teach: every decision is not carved in stone but, rather, an experiment to see what works and what doesn’t. Our whole lean startup approach is predicated on this belief.

If Mr. Ferreira is game, we would happily extend him the offer to sit in on some of our classes because we’re confident that he will see that the CSUF Entrepreneurship program is not like the business schools he describes in his article.


Continue reading

Funding Your Big Idea – CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider

Funding your idea is hard to do, especially if you are in one of the STEM fields and your concept has never been done before. How do you fund your idea then? In this edition of the CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider you will find an event we are hosting this Wednesday that will answer your questions.

As I reviewed the submissions from our CSUF Startup Competition I was pleasantly surprised to see a good number of the concepts were in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). There are so many emergent opportunities in those fields and I know that our students are up for the challenge.

Part of that challenge is funding. And that isn’t a small challenge either, especially when you are working in a field where you will probably need a decent amount of research and development before you even launch. That’s one of the reasons why we’re very happy to have an expert in the STEM funding field in to speak at the CSUF Startup Incubator in Placentia this Wednesday.

Jim Cooper, said expert, will give the talk Funding Moonshots this Wednesday at 6pm. In this talk, Jim will cover the funding options available to STEM entrepreneurs and how they can effectively raise funds for their groundbreaking concepts.

We hope to see you there!

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

Continue reading

Funding Moonshots – STEM Startups with Jim Cooper @ CSUF Startup

Jim Cooper is an expert on startup funding and at this talk he will go through some of the lesser known funding options for entrepreneurs.

Jim Cooper

You have heard the saying that goes something like “The longest journey begins with one step”. Well, that’s pretty applicable to any kind of successful business as well. Before you create the next billion dollar business you will have to raise your first dollar. Maybe it’s through sales, money you have saved up, money from family and friends, investors, or grants.

There are a lot of options here and that is why the CSUF Startup Incubator is excited to be hosting an expert in this field, Jim Cooper, for a seminar about funding the next big thing: your business.

This event will be at the CSUF Startup Incubator (Placentia) on Wednesday, March 14 at 6pm. We hope to see you there!

To register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/funding-moonshots-stem-startups-with-jim-cooper-csuf-startup-tickets-42890187706?aff=blog

Description

Funding doesn’t have to be the most difficult thing that you do as an entrepreneur. Actually, if you do it right, it can be an extremely enjoyable experience where you not only will be able to (hopefully) raise money to start and grow your business but learn a lot about how the experts view your company.

As a co-founder and CTO of an early stage incubator, Jim Cooper has worked with dozens of startups on creating and executing various funding strategies from conventional seed rounds consisting of investments from family and friends to federal grants. Jim has employed or knows about just about every type of startup funding strategy there is and will be sharing some of his top strategies with attendees.

About Jim Cooper

Jim Cooper has had over 20 years of startups, market research, market intelligence and competitive analysis experience. He has assisted companies enter the United States market, and has helped many other companies entering markets further afield.

He is CTO of Braid Theory, an early-stage startup advisory and consulting group located in Los Angeles

He also created a consultancy, Conscientia Research, and as a full-service Market Research business its goals are to make businesses successful and competitive by employing research to understand markets, so a business doesn’t have to rely on assumptions about how a market works.

He employs a number of services, including market sizing, primary and secondary research, customer validation, market validation, competitive analysis and strategy, regulatory and standards compliance, supply-chain optimization, production analysis and business planning.

Jim has been a Principal Advisor to companies seeking Phase I and Phase II Commercialization through SBIR grants. With his assistance, businesses have utilized his research products to enhance the growth projections for their business and strengthened their market capabilities.

Jim’s specialties include: Market Intelligence, Market Validation Research, Economic Development, Small Business Issues, Competitive Analysis and Strategies, Supply Chain Optimization, Market Entry, Production Strategy, wrapped in timely and actionable recommendations.

Jim is trained in economics, political science, biology and mathematics, in both the United States and his birth country, Australia. He holds positions on business advisory boards, lending his experience and broad knowledge to startups. He is a mentor to CSU students NSF i-Corps teams.

Jim is interested in STEM/STEAM and Linked Learning education initiatives, and how that channels into innovation, and Lean Start-ups. He uses an evidence-based entrepreneurship approach to increase intellectual capital

Parking

Please park on South Bradford Avenue. Our building is located next to the fire department and our offices are in the back of the building at 120 South Bradford Avenue.


#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:
http://bit.ly/CSUFknowledge

CSUF Consulting Team Places Third Nationally! – CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider

This edition of the CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider is packed with success stories from our students and alumni! Make sure to click the link above and sign up to make sure you don’t miss any of these great stories in the future.

And if you want to learn how to market your business on a budget we hope to see you this Wednesday at 6pm in Placentia as Candace Thome-Hopson, who is definitely one of our success stories, will be giving a seminar on that topic. We hope to see you there!

Congratulations are in order for one of our CSUF Consulting teams as they finished third in a national student consulting competition! The report that they crafted over the course of a semester for a business founded by an amazing group of our alumni focused on how to expand their marketing efforts and the results for the client and at the competition speak for themselves. I am very proud of Rachel, Mary, Jonny, and Chad, the students who completed this project. And many thanks are in order for their amazing mentors, Bob Godlasky and the late Jim Roberts.

So many of our students are doing amazing things and Candace Thome-Hopson is no different. Since graduating almost two years ago she has launched and grown a non-profit that teaches water safety to over 70 volunteers as a tribute to her brother, Brayv, who tragically died in a drowning accident. Candace will also be at the CSUF Startup Incubator (Placentia) this Wednesday at 6pm to give a talk on how to market your startup on a budget; we hope to see you there!

Success stories like Candace’s and the award-winning CSUF Consulting team start in the classroom and the earlier we can teach students about the power of being entrepreneurial the better. To that end, this weekend, DECA, an organization dedicated to teaching high school students about entrepreneurship and business, needs some judges for a massive student competition that it is hosting. If you have some free time this weekend and you will be in the Anaheim area I hope you will consider serving as a judge; more info at this link on how to sign up.

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

P.S. Have you applied for CSUF Startup Competition yet? Open to current CSUF students, this competition is all about finding the best startup concepts on campus. Ideas can be for a business or a non-profit, all are welcomed who are willing to take on the challenge! To be considered for this competition, please submit an application by March 9.

Continue reading

Startup Marketing: How to Reach People on a Budget @ CSUF Startup

CSUF Entrepreneurship graduates are go-getters who have a knack for getting things done against the odds. Candace Thome ’16 is no exception. She started a nonprofit called Swim Brayv with little in the way of resources on hand and has grown it in less than two years into a thriving organization that teaches children the importance of water safety.

On Wednesday, February 28 at 6pm she along with Rob Kee of Enlarge Media will be at the CSUF Startup Incubator (Placentia) to give a seminar on the best practices for creating a winning startup marketing strategy. We hope to see you there!

To register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/startup-marketing-how-to-reach-people-on-a-budget-csuf-startup-tickets-42858352486?aff=blog

Description

Entrepreneurship is about many things but all entrepreneurs quickly find out that their main job is business development and a big part of that is marketing. But you are just starting out and unless you have investors or have saved up a lot of money you will have to figure out a way to get your message out to your target market on a tight budget. How do you do this?

It’s not easy but recent CSUF Entrepreneurship alumnus Candace Thome along with marketing executive Rob Kee of Enlarge Media have figured out how to do it. After graduation, Candace started a nonprofit organization called Swim Brayv with very little seed capital. Since she launched about two years ago she has grown her organization to impressive heights through grit and by following many of the lessons that she learned while a student at Cal State Fullerton.

At this seminar, you will learn the marketing strategies she and Rob used to grow Swim Brayv. These lessons are not only applicable to nonprofits, they are timeless strategies that can be used in any kind of business. In fact, building a nonprofit is, in many ways, much more difficult than a forprofit business. Nonprofits have very high failure rates, much higher than most business actually. What she has done has worked for her and it can work for you as well.

We hope to see you there!

About the Speakers

Rob Kee started Enlarge Media, a boutique marketing & advertising firm, with his partner Jay Brown over a decade ago. They have been at the forefront of online marketing, offering social media marketing since before Facebook had Business pages, and Instagram existed. Over the past decade they have helped hundreds of brands creatively develop; from startups to large, reputable corporations.

Enlarge Media is a creative based marketing & advertising firm with solutions for all your marketing & advertising needs. In-House Marketing & Advertising Services include: Art/Graphics, Content Creation, Public Relations, Sales, Experiential Marketing, Reputation Management, Media Training, Web Development, Media Buying, S.E.O., Branding and Marketing Strategy Development.

www.EnlargeMedia.com

Candace Thome is a consultant with Enlarge Media & Founder of Swim Brayv Foundation.

Personal Consulting Specialties Include:

Experiential Marketing – from attendee demographics and booth operational flow, to event brand representation I am well versed in both small and large scale events.

Media Training – preparing clients for professional presentations to large scale interviews. Making sure they’re comfortable in the public and media’s eyes to best represent their brand/company.

Branding – very experienced at consulting for entrepreneurial startups and guiding through branding strategy and development. Including everything from brand logo/colors to a long-term branding strategies (Can also assist with existing branding pivots).

Marketing Strategy Development – able to assist owners and/or operational and financial management representatives with the development of a cohesive and strategic marketing plan.

I am also the Founder of Swim Brayv Foundation. A nonprofit that creatively engages and educates the public on water safety.

Did you know that the most up-to-date scientific evidence shows someone loses their life to Drowning approximately every 30 seconds?!

So, how can you help save lives?

Join Swim Brayv Foundation in our efforts to engage and educate on water safety.Take the Swim B.R.A.Y.V. Pledge along with us and become an advocate for water/swim safety!

See the full pledge on our website.

This particular issue of public safety is close to heart because my younger brother, Brayv, passed away after drowning.

Check out our Facebook page and email us for further information.

Together we can…

Save Lives. Swim Brayv.

Parking

Please park on South Bradford Avenue. Our building is located next to the fire department and our offices are in the back of the building at 120 South Bradford Avenue.


#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:
http://bit.ly/CSUFknowledge