Tag Archives: Success Story

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.

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.

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CSUF Entrepreneurship Success Story: Tristan Schmitt ’16

CSUF Entrepreneurship Success Story: Tristan Schmitt launches startup called Modern Zinc

CSUF Entrepreneurship Success Story: Tristan Schmitt launches startup called Modern Zinc

In today’s modern business world, the way in which companies conduct business is rapidly changing. In the past, companies would purchase items from a manufacturer and then sell them for a higher price in order to cover the cost of operating a store. However, growing popularity among online businesses is now marking the end of traditional brick and mortar stores. This transition to online markets has made the creation of businesses easier for prospective entrepreneurs.

Luckily for the Entrepreneurship students at Cal State Fullerton they are well positioned to take advantage of this new paradigm. For recent graduate Tristan Schmitt his success in the textile industry has helped propel his company, Modern Zinc, into the international marketplace.

Tristan started his entrepreneurial journey when he began attending Entrepreneurship classes at the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics. Then, during a venture creation class, Tristan and his group developed an idea that would soon be the foundations for which his future company would be built upon. By harnessing the power of zinc, Tristan and his group developed a business plan that focused on using zinc in textiles such as pillow cases and blankets.

”The concept of Modern Zinc came not long before my 465A Venture Creation class at CSUF. At that point Modern Zinc was just an idea with no real plan for the future. Throughout the 465A class I worked closely with a group of classmates, mentor, and professor to turn this idea into a realistic business,” said Schmitt.

After refining their business plan, Tristan and his team began to work closely with one another in order to solidify their project. With the help of his teammates, their teacher, and mentor the final business plan was created. The time put into researching this project was not only extensive, but also helped to make their project unique.

“Because the sheets and pillowcases we sleep on collect a lot of sweat, oils, and dead skin cells it is important to wash our sheet regularly…. Smart fabrics [with positive hygienic properties] such as silver- and zinc-infused fabrics had made a debut in the market…. No one was using this technology in the bedding industry so we saw an opening for a new product. We spend a third of our lives in bed so it seemed like a perfect place to use the technology,” said Tristan Schmitt.

After completing his class, Tristan approached his friend Andy Burde and together they launched Modern Zinc.

“My business partner Andy Burde and I went forward to build the brand with new logos, a website, and pictures. Through our network of friends, we were able to bootstrap this part of the process but still had a lack of capital to place our initial order with the manufacturer. This led us to use crowdfunding for this project through Kickstarter so we could start manufacturing our zinc-infused bed sheets.” Said Schmitt.

Visit Tristan's website, Modern Zinc by clicking on this image

Visit Tristan’s website, Modern Zinc by clicking on this image

With a goal of $15,000 dollars for their crowdfunding campaign, Schmitt’s Kickstarter page garnered the attention of customers from all over the world. In order to assure their customers that their money was being well spent, different packages were offered to those who submitted a certain amount of money for every category. In addition, professional grade photos and videos explaining the product were also available on the page for those curious about the benefits of zinc.

Tristan and his business partner were able to raise $16,384 through their crowdfunding campaign.

“We have completed our Kickstarter campaign and just recently placed an order for the zinc-infused bed sheets. We expect the sheets to arrive in November from our manufacturer and we will start shipping them to our customers for Christmas. Once we have delivered the products to all our Kickstarter backers we plan to launch our e-commerce store and continue selling bed sheets online,” said Schmitt.

With a successful Kickstarter campaign and new business under his belt, it is no wonder that Tristan’s success in the market will only continue to grow as he continues to apply the lessons and skills that he learned from the Center for Entrepreneurship at Cal State Fullerton.

For more information about Tristan’s company, please visit these links.






#CSUFEntrepreneur #CSUFStartup

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CSUF Entrepreneurship Success Story: James Parr ’15

James Parr hard at work implementing an online marketing strategy his CSUF Student-led Business Consulting Team developed for Green Thumb Nurseries. After the completion of their project, Green Thumb Nurseries hired James to implement the recommendations that his team made.

James Parr hard at work implementing an online marketing strategy his CSUF Student-led Business Consulting Team developed for Green Thumb. After the completion of their project, Green Thumb hired James to implement the recommendations that his team made.

James Parr ’15 is currently finishing his double major in Entrepreneurship and Marketing at Cal State Fullerton and he is also currently working for one of our Student-led Business Consulting clients: Green Thumb. As you might expect, the project that James and his group did for Green Thumb directly led to his being hired by them.

Bud Bergquist was the client’s point person for this project as he is the Vice President of Green Thumb. According to Mr. Bergquist, he “engaged the [CSUF Student-led Consulting Program] to get an overview of Social media and Web based marketing. With the rapid changes in technology I thought it important to understand and improve our presence on the Internet.”

With this as their objective, James helped his team develop a strategy around a few different key topics such as:

  • Merchandising
  • Brand Identification and Development
  • Social Media Development
  • Website Development
  • Customer Cultivation and Retention Planning
  • Competitive Analysis

Speaking from personal experience I can tell you how audacious a project this is for any consulting firm. Honestly, social media development could have constituted a full project and would have resulted in extremely valuable recommendations for the client in and of itself. For a project with so many goals keeping focus is of the utmost importance and James was able to help his team in that area.

Green Thumb Nursery LogoJames commented to me that he “organized a lot of our ideas into action [items] and came up with the structure to our report. I was constantly in contact with Mr. Bergquist and worked consistently on improving my section of the report [and helping others with theirs] throughout the semester.”

Frequent contact with the client and diligently working on improving the project are cornerstones of our program and James epitomized this ethos with the project his team did for Green Thumb. All of our students have their unique abilities but what tends to make a good student great is the willingness to put in the time and effort; the results from this particular project proved that out.

Mr. Bergquist was gracious enough to comment further on this project and on James in particular:

We are implementing a number of the recommendations currently. These include building a website as well as developing an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Because of the content in the team’s report we have hired James to spearhead our Social Media campaign.

I thought it was a high value report and would recommend your consulting program to anyone that might ask.

That is definitely high praise and, as Mr. Bergquist alluded to, James is currently employed by Green Thumb to oversee their social media strategy and development planning, a position that he has had since May of this year. This position is absolutely critical to Green Thumb’s strategic goal of having a more robust online presence that will lead to increased sales and customer engagement. From James, his responsibilities include:

I manage all of the companies 5 location’s social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest. I designed the company a new logo. I rebuilt their corporate website from the ground up and have implemented many new things that were not in place before such as Garden Blogging, implemented ecommerce for sod, fountains and gift cards (much of the entire store is planned to be online within the next year), a plant library which showcases information on all of the company’s plants online, so customer’s can input specific criteria and find the perfect plant for their garden, and much more. SEO strategy with tagging, keyword planner, etc. I have also been busy organizing new events for the stores to improve business during the slow seasons, I design the flyers for the events, I design the signage for the store. I could probably go on forever on what I have planned for this business so I think I’ll stop there just for time sake. I really look forward to working with this company and assisting them on their journey online. 

We are very happy for James and Green Thumb. Every semester we complete approximately sixty such projects at the undergraduate and MBA levels for our clients. Our clients have many great things to say about their experiences with our student-consultants and we are always looking for new clients to join our program. If you are interested in our Student-led Business Consulting Program please click here for more information or get in touch with us at csufentrepreneurship@fullerton.edu and we’ll be delighted to give you more information about how our program can help your company.

CSUF Entrepreneur Success Story: Brian Cavanaugh ’13

CSUF Entrepreneur Success Story - Brian CavanaughEntering college, I thought I was going to be an Art major with hopes of becoming a graphic designer.  A couple of semesters later, my mind shifted from graphic art to photography, and I set my sights on a potential career in commercial photography. However, during a semester in a photography class, I shared my ambitions with my professor who shared an interesting outlook on my career path. She recommended that rather than studying for a degree in Photography, I should consider majoring in Business, as many artists and photographers are good at their craft, but lack solid business skills. After some thought, I agreed and set my sights on an Entrepreneurship degree from CSUF.

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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 Entrepreneur Success Story: Jennifer Barber ’14

Jennifer Barber Web optimized

CSUF Entrepreneurship alum Jennifer Barber ’14 has taken her many entrepreneurial skills to China for a year to teach English to Chinese children

It has been a little under five months since I took my final steps as an undergraduate student at CSUF. The first word that comes to mind when I think of my experience as a Titan is “perfect”. Now, I certainly don’t mean that in a conventional way; we all know that if you have any fun at all, there are some nights where you and “perfect” couldn’t be bigger strangers. By “perfect” I mean that, because of that time, I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now.

Where does a twenty-two year old college graduate with an entrepreneurship degree go? I went to Beijing, China to teach English for a year. You might ask, “Why aren’t you applying to big companies at home or starting your own business?” I would say, “Who says I have to do it now?”

I have a couple of reasons why I chose China. First, I like to be a little unconventional; I don’t like to feel “comfortable” for too long. Second, my passion is to serve others. Continue reading

CSUF Entrepreneurship Success Story: Patrick Hayes ’14

(Excerpted from the Mihaylo College Blog)CSUF Success Story Patrick Hayes '14Patrick Hayes ’14 began building his own furniture when he first moved out of his parent’s home at age 20. An aspiring artist, he did not have the money or resources to buy furniture, so he built functional, yet crude, desks and tables. He spent the first few years touring with his band and took classes at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa when he had the chance.

While on tour in Texas, the band came across an abandoned beer brewing factory. He and a friend decided to sneak in and take a few pictures, similar to the works of Rob Dobi, a photographer he admired in high school who documented old buildings.

“Despite the police showing up, I knew I had found another passion,” Hayes says. Continue reading