Tag Archives: CSUF Entrepreneurship

Innovation At Cal State Fullerton – It Starts With You

CSUF students Lorenzo Santos and Vanessa Ganaden are working to bring more innovation to Cal State Fullerton

In this week’s edition of the CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider we focus on how innovation starts with you. Everyone has the ability to improve things and the seed of all innovation is an idea. Successful innovators are the ones who work every day to make those ideas into something real.

Over the past few weeks the CSUF Entrepreneurship community has been busy. A couple of our intrepid students attended a national conference along with CSUF President Garcia to learn how to bring more innovation to campus, and they have already begun acting on what they learned; many students have entered their innovative business concepts in the CSUF Business Plan Competition; and more of our CSUF Startup Incubator Residents have brought their innovations to market, one of them focusing on bringing joy to his customers and another on teaching his customers how to play the piano better.

Innovation, the lifeblood of entrepreneurship, comes from individuals and teams taking actions to create a better world. The Center for Entrepreneurship and the CSUF Startup Incubator innovates as well but what we excel at is working with individuals and teams to make them better innovators and better entrepreneurs.

What all of these stories have in common is that these innovators started small. Theirs is no overnight success story; they started from an idea and worked to grow it day after day. You can do this as well. We are here to help.

Sincerely,

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

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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

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CSUF Entrepreneurship Update from Director Jackson

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Here are a few hundred words from Director John Bradley Jackson:

Jerry Conrey is a tremendous supporter of the CSUF Entrepreneurship program and he will be joining us this Wednesday at 6pm for his talk/Q&A titled Insurance and Risk Management Questions Answered!

This is a tremendous opportunity to find out what kinds of insurance your business needs, how much coverage is necessary, and learn powerful strategies for managing your company’s risk portfolio. Mr. Conrey will give a brief talk starting at 6pm and then will field questions from the audience for at least an hour. We hope to see you there!

If you have a spare five minutes, I would appreciate it if you could answer some survey questions about banking. With the results of this survey, our students will get the opportunity to apply the lessons they have learned in class and their analysis will be used to assist a local business in determining their marketing strategy. Consulting projects are a central part of the CSUF Entrepreneurship curriculum and your assistance here is a tremendous help.

Also, following up on my last email to you a couple of weeks ago, I am happy to tell you that the CSUF Business Plan Competition Finals were a big hit! Over 150 people were there to see our finalists present their concepts. A huge “Thank you!” to everyone who made this possible and to read about the Finals (and to find out who won) please read: CSUF Business Plan Competition 2016

To see the other talks we have planned for the future please go to: http://bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurEventsThank you for your time and we hope to see you at Insurance and Risk Management Questions Answered! and the events that we have listed below!

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Cal State Fullerton Mentoring Program

CSUF Entrepreneurship Consulting

Angeli Menta (second from left) mentored this team of awesome CSUF Entrepreneurship students who ended up winning a national competition for excellence in consulting.

Mentors are a pivotal component of the CSUF Entrepreneurship program. We have dozens of student teams every semester working on consulting projects for local businesses and on developing their own startups. It’s an amazing process that helps bring real life situations into the classroom for our students and the mentors serve as an invaluable bridge between the academic and the practical.

We are looking for a few more businesspeople to serve as mentors in our program to help our students develop the skill sets necessary to compete in the real world. You don’t need to have decades worth of experience or have started multiple paradigm changing companies. That would be cool but we’ve found that the ideal mentors are people who care about helping the students grow as people and as professionals.

For each of our classes we ask mentors to attend approximately ten times throughout the semester for about an hour each time. For mentors in classes with consulting projects, which is most of them and is noted below, there will probably be a couple onsite visits with the client as well. Overall, mentoring in our program requires a couple hours a week on average over the course of about thirteen weeks.

If you are interested in becoming a mentor in our program please send us a message at csufentrepreneurship@fullerton.edu. I can answer any of your questions and get you in touch with the professors. And if you have any recommendations on people who would make a good mentor please let them know about us.

Below you will find the list of classes for which we still need mentors. All of them have student teams doing consulting projects for local businesses except for the first one listed, Business Administration 410, where teams are developing  business plans for their concepts.

Business Administration 410 – Starting and Managing a Professional Practice/Small Business
Professor: Jeff Longshaw
Time: Wednesday 4:00pm to 6:45pm

Management 461 – Entrepreneurial Management (Consulting)
Professor: Tom Miller
Time: Wednesday 7:00pm to 9:45pm

Marketing 462 – Marketing for Entrepreneurs (Consulting)
Professor: Scott Sorrell
Time: Tuesday 7:00pm to 9:45pm

Accounting 463 – Financial Controls for Entrepreneurs (first section) (Consulting)
Professor: Tom Miller
Time: Monday 7:00pm to 9:45pm

Accounting 463 – Financial Controls for Entrepreneurs (second section) (Consulting)
Professor: Tom Miller
Time: Tuesday 7:00pm to 9:45pm

Management 464 – Entrepreneurial Leadership (first section) (Consulting)
Professor: Jack Mixner
Time: Monday 7:00pm to 9:45pm

Management 464 – Entrepreneurial Leadership (second section) (Consulting)
Professor: Atul Teckchandani
Time: Wednesday 1:00pm to 3:45pm

CSUF Entrepreneurship Mentor Bob Kreisberg Rediscovers his love for the Saxophone

PHOTO: CINDY YAMANAKA, OC REGISTER STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

PHOTO: CINDY YAMANAKA, OC REGISTER STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

As a mentor in our program, Bob Kreisberg has helped hundreds of students understand the importance of how different personalities affect entrepreneurial ventures. As the founder of Opus Productivity, Bob counsels companies on how to hire people with the highest likelihood of fitting in with a company’s culture and how to get the most out of new and existing employees. Bob has a great mind for business and is a very valuable member of our entrepreneurial community.

But that’s not the point of this post. For those of us who know Bob personally we know that he is a kind and generous person. Having beaten cancer Bob is also a fighter. One thing many people, even some of his closest friends, didn’t know is that Bob used to love playing the saxophone and it was that love of this instrument that recently got him profiled in the Orange County Register.

In the story Villa Park man rediscovers saxophone 46 years after illness I learned about Bob’s sojourn to find the perfect saxophone that he last played decades ago:

Kreisberg remembered clutching the raw brass relic for the first time. He was standing beside an orchestra’s worth of forgotten instruments and between the shelves of power tools and sharp-toothed handsaws, and he held the sax next to his heart.

He was reunited with an instrument – no, not the same instrument, but one just like it – that he hadn’t played in 46 years.

“This was a magic,” he said of the new/old sax. “This had to have been played by a musician.”

You really should read the whole article to learn about this personal pursuit of one of our mentors.

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 Entrepreneurship Alumna Makes Travel a Goal

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In the best-selling book “The 4-Hour Workweek”, author Timothy Ferriss says that we shouldn’t wait till retirement to truly enjoy our lives. Most of us think we need to wait till then because we don’t have the financial resources to do it now. Ferris’s book provides guidelines for how to do so. Annie Nguyen, one of our recent entrepreneurship graduates, has embraced this philosophy and is currently living in Cairns, Australia. This is her story.

Atul Teckchandani

I’ve always had this burning desire inside of me to just pick up and leave. To travel somewhere. Anywhere. Not to just travel as a tourist, but rather to live in a different country for a little while and really embrace it. I wanted to meet inspiring and kind people, see what they value, and learn how to live in a different way. Nine months ago, I decided to take off and leave everything behind. The love of my life was offered an opportunity to go to Australia and I decided to accompany him. Like with anything, I did not have 100% support from everyone. I knew however this was the best time for me. With no sort of commitment to a job, no mortgage or children, I sold my car, gathered my savings, and left. Continue reading

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