Category Archives: Student Consulting

CSUF Entrepreneurship Client Recruiting Season is now Open

CSUF Business ConsultingEvery business has, or at least should have, a leader. This is the person who is responsible for the company’s strategy, who makes the tough decisions, who is the person that is ultimately responsible for the business’ success or failure. And this person, at least the good ones, know that they cannot do it alone. They realize that the people who are working for the company are assets.

But can you honestly say that you are getting the most out of your assets? Do you know a leader who thinks he is but is really squandering a lot of that value? That’s where we come in. Our program has done hundreds of consulting cases dealing with organizational development issues. Continue reading

CSUF Business Consulting in Orange County Sparks Innovation

Charlesetta Medina helps business students

The Center for Entrepreneurship’s Small Business Institute has been at the forefront of innovation in the Orange County market for decades. Every year, we place student teams with local companies to help spur business innovation in marketing, sales, finance, operations, and leadership. These teams of mostly graduating seniors are paired with mentors from the private sector and their professors and they end up having a huge economic impact not only for the businesses that they do consulting projects for but for the region as well.

Recently, Ms. Charlesetta Medina, Manager with the Small Business Institute, was interviewed by the Daily Titan about how we’re able to help local businesses. Here is a taste of what was in the story:

The SBI is a national non-profit organization in its 39th year of business. The center is part of the 14 Centers of Excellence within the Steven G. Mihaylo College of Business and Economics and a program for entrepreneurship.

“We’re a very tiny center but we do make a huge economic impact,” Medina said. “So when you talk about the value for small businesses in our local economy, it’s key.”

That’s what’s really began to turn our economy, is the ability for those small businesses to have held on and still allow for new ones to emerge, Medina said.

Medina reaches out directly by mail to nearly 20,000 local businesses. Then she takes those responses and figures out, “is (SBI) a benefit to them.”

The students involved in SBI take on about 40 small businesses per semester and close to 100 businesses a year.

“They get to work in a team environment, with support and resources from the center, from mentors and from faculty,” Medina said. “And they’re able to bring that really fresh perspective to businesses, many of whom may have been in business for a number of years and they feel like they know their business very well.”

Yet, the generation of students now are able to bring new insight and a new perspective on how to do some of those same tasks, in new and innovative ways that helps that business, Medina said.

To read the rest of the story please click here.

Wouldn’t you like to have this kind of work done for your company? Maybe you know of a company that would benefit from our services. Either way, if you are interested in our services please contact Ms. Charlesetta Medina at 657 278 3464 or by email  at to find out more about our program.

CSUF Students Help Companies Develop Better Leadership Practices

Woman Diligently Working

In the Leadership and Human Resources Student Consulting Program, our goal is to understand the client’s business and then use that understanding along with an objective lens to help address the leadership and HR challenges the client is facing. It is our goal to hear from the client that the student consulting team’s recommendations were on target because the team understood the intricacies and challenges of his business as well as the business owner.

Here is one example of such an engagement. Continue reading

Success Story – Rance’s Chicago Pizza

Success Story Rance's Chicago PizzaCSUF alumni Aaron Tofani ’06 was gracious enough to write the following post about how he and his business partner, Rance Ruiz, embraced their entrepreneurial spirits and opened one of the most successful pizza restaurants in Southern California, Rance’s Chicago Pizza.

Owning a business with one of my best friends is a truly rewarding experience. Growing up I watched Rance develop an expertise for making delicious Chicago deep dish pizza pies. When he asked me to join him in opening a restaurant, I drew from my education at Cal State University, Fullerton to evaluate the opportunity and build the business.

Rance's Chicago Pizza LogoIn 2012 we opened Rance’s Chicago Pizza in Costa Mesa, CA and have since been awarded Top 30 Restaurants in Orange County by the OC Food List, voted Best Pizza in OC on the 2013 Hot List and featured in OC Weekly, Daily Pilot, OC Register, many other articles, foodie blogs, and great reviews on Yelp. We’ve hosted a Tap Take-Over with fellow CSUF Success Story Bootlegger’s Brewery and countless pizza parties for friends and family. Our business is consistently improving and we are having a blast working together.

In writing this story I decided to reflect specifically on how my undergrad studies at CSUF contributed to the opening and subsequent success of Rance’s Chicago Pizza. Here are my top five. Continue reading

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