CSUF Startup wins Pasadena Angels Competition

Alan Cerna and Branden Wells First Place in CSUF Startup Competition

Fresh off their win at the CSUF Startup Competition Alan Cerna (left) and Branden Wells (right) have gone on to win a pitch competition hosted by the Pasadena Angels. Well done guys!

Fresh off their win at the CSUF Startup Competition Alan Cerna and Branden Wells have gone on to win a pitch competition hosted by the Pasadena Angels. Their philanthropic startup Apprentice Builds’ mission of getting at-risk youth off the street and into auto shop won over a field of a dozen other startups.

What was special about this win, and shows the character of these two, is that there were no financial awards or promises of any kind. I firmly believe that one of the key things that separates entrepreneurs who go on to accomplish great things and those that don’t is the ability to show up and take advantage of opportunities that others overlook. Alan and Branden certainly have done this time and again.

Even though they did not take home any cash prizes they did, as Alan pointed out, get exposure for their business and contacts with the Pasadena Angels community that can help them out in the future. Alan summed up the experience of pitching to the Pasadena Angels by saying “It’s about the value you bring to the table and the impact that your idea will [have] on others.”

Alan and Branden will next be at the Road to a Better Future car show this Saturday where they will meet with potential sponsors of Apprentice Builds. This event is at the Segerstrom High School in Santa Ana and is open to the public. If you’re a fan of hot rods or just want to meet these two CSUF entrepreneurs I hope you can attend this event.


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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

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Timeless Networking Advice for Entrepreneurs from a Cal State Fullerton Mentor

CSUF Startup Incubator Open House 2016

Here’s a photo of entrepreneurs networking at the CSUF Startup Incubator Open House in 2016. You never know when you will meet your next business partner, client, employee, or friend.

A couple of weeks ago in the weekly CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider Director Jackson talked about the importance of networking. Networking is a powerful way for entrepreneurs to actively create new opportunities and while volumes can (and have) been written on the topic oftentimes the best advice is also the most straightforward advice.

After reading Director Jackson’s newsletter, longtime CSUF Entrepreneurship mentor, executive, and serial entrepreneur Dr. Don McCrea sent in some advice that I think every entrepreneur should know about and put into practice. Here is Don’s timeless networking advice for entrepreneurs:

Here’s a suggestion that was made to me several years ago that I feel is the best networking advice I’ve ever gotten. The advice is to ask two questions, listening to the response on each one, and then following up where appropriate. Here they are:

  1. Ask “Who are you?” Not, “What do you do?” Asking who they are differentiates you from everyone else they’ll meet at the event, but also lets you get to know more about who they really are.
  2. Ask “How can I help you?” Again, listen to what they need. Maybe even jot a note on their business card. If you encounter someone at that event (or later) who fills that need, introduce the two of them. You will be well-remembered, and you’ve begun a relationship.

You’re starting a conversation, not taking a test. So these questions are designed to provoke that conversation, and there may be some interchange that takes place between the two questions.

I’ve always listened naturally for how I can create value for those I meet—especially if they’re a prospect or client—but reframing my questions to those above has had a very positive effect on my network creation.

Being able to stand out from the crowd is a skill that you can learn and these questions are a good way to do that. At the next networking event you attend, or even the next person you meet for the first time, try asking these straightforward questions and see what kind of response you get. I bet it will work out very well for you.

Speaking of networking, our next event is How Successful Entrepreneurs Raise Funds from Banks in Irvine on Wednesday, April 18 at 6pm. We hope to see you there!


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Use Design Thinking to Have a Full Classroom

This one is for all the professors at Cal State Fullerton!

On April 18 and 19 (it’s one seminar that is being offered on both of these dates), SINC will be hosting a seminar on “How to Always Have a Full Classroom By Using Design Thinking to Create and Continuously Innovate Your Teaching Curriculum.” For more information, please go here (you may be asked to sign into your CSUF account).

SINC, Student Innovation Collective, was founded in 2016 by CSUF Students. They are a multidisciplinary group of students working together to tackle social issues that we all care about through design innovation. They have worked with companies and organizations like: Google, Stanford University, and the OC Register.

SINC Flyer


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Come see CSUF Startup Competition Winners at Road to a Better Future Car Show

On Saturday, April 21, you can come out and support the winners of the CSUF Startup Competition. Alan Cerna and Branden Wells, creators of Apprentice Builds, will be there promoting their nonprofit that aims to give teenagers a leg up in the world by providing them with the opportunity to learn critically important skills by working on hot rods. If you’re in the area and like cars at all, or just want to meet Alan and Branden, then you should absolutely consider attending this event.

Event details below.

Apprentice Builds at Road to a Better Future Car Show

Come see CSUF Entrepreneurship student nonprofit Apprentice Builds at Road to a Better Future Car Show


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CSUF Startup Competition Results are in

We have been working on the CSUF Startup Competition for a few months now and we have a winner!

You’ll find that information out, below, in this edition of the CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider along with links to our news and upcoming events/office hours. Make sure to click the link above to subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

The results are in and the winner of this year’s CSUF Startup Competition is Apprentice Builds!

Founded by Alan Cerna and Branden Wells, Apprentice Builds’ mission is to get at-risk youth off the streets and into the shop to work on hot rods and learn skills that can lead into productive careers.

For a full rundown on the rest of the competition, including pictures from the Finals, please go to our CSUF Startup Competition Results post on our blog.

I’d like to give a special thanks to our sponsors: Dan Black and Karl Freels of the Black Family Trust and Royal Business Bank, represented by David Morris. They all have been longtime supporters of the Center and its mission of advancing entrepreneurship in our communities. Thank you!

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

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CSUF Startup Competition Results

First off, we want to thank all of the students, mentors, judges, and donors who participated in the CSUF Startup Competition this year; we could not have done this without all of your efforts!

As has always been the case, having the opportunity to host a competition like the CSUF Startup Competition and see the dramatic improvements that the students make over the course of a mere few weeks is amazing. The mission of this competition is to challenge students to come up with innovative concepts that can improve humanity and I think that the crop of competitors this year ably acquitted themselves with aplomb.

Before going into who won the competition, I need to thank the donors whose support made all of this possible. Dan Black and Karl Freels of the Black Family Trust have been longtime supporters of our Center’s mission and their support has enabled us to grow our community in powerful ways. Royal Business Bank, represented by David Morris, is another longtime supporter of our Center and our activities. These contributors have been extremely generous patrons of ours and we are eternally grateful for their support.

We would also like to thank our judges for the finals. Karl Freels, David Morris, Mima Ransom, Per Welinder, Andrew Bermudez, and Dr. Deb Ferber. They all asked tough questions of our finalists and drew out insightful answers from our students.

Without further ado, here are the winners from this year’s CSUF Startup Competition:

6th Place: Justin Lotz and Micah Herman

Their concept for a cryptocurrency fund intrigued our judges and their presentation impressed.

Justin Lotz and Micah Herman Sixth Place in CSUF Startup Competition

Justin Lotz and Micah Herman, Sixth Place in CSUF Startup Competition

5th Place: Vanessa Ganaden and Rachel Herzog

This team took a risk by pivoting their concept to a children’s book subscription model before the finals but their passion for finding solutions definitely came through.

Rachel Herzog and Vanessa Ganaden Fifth Place in CSUF Startup Competition

Rachel Herzog and Vanessa Ganaden, Fifth Place in CSUF Startup Competition

4th Place: Vanessa Wiebach

Autism is a condition that afflicts far too many people and Vanessa’s concept that empowers people with autism through music education resonated with our judges.

Vanessa Wiebach Fourth Place in CSUF Startup Competition

Vanessa Wiebach, Fourth Place in CSUF Startup Competition

3rd Place: Arshya “Ary” Sharifian

The real estate business is very competitive and Ary’s concept for an algorithm that will more accurately value property would give investors a distinct advantage over the competition.

Arshya "Ary" Sharifian Third Place in CSUF Startup Competition

Arshya “Ary” Sharifian, Third Place in CSUF Startup Competition

2nd Place: Jordan Au and Simran Gaglani (and Itzayana Leal who could not attend the Finals)

The infant and parenting industries are currently booming and their concept for a portable device to keep bottles warm resonated with the judges.

Jordan Au and Simran Gaglani Second Place in CSUF Startup Competition

Jordan Au and Simran Gaglani, Second Place in CSUF Startup Competition

1st Place: Alan Cerna and Branden Wells

This year’s winner of the CSUF Startup Competition was Alan Cerna’s and Branden Wells’ Apprentice Builds. Apprentice Builds’ mission is to get at-risk youth off the streets and into the shop to work on hot rods and learn skills that can lead into productive careers.

Alan Cerna and Branden Wells First Place in CSUF Startup Competition

Alan Cerna and Branden Wells, First Place in CSUF Startup Competition

Congratulations to all of the winners! We know how much work you all put into this competition and we are here to help you launch your innovative concepts.

Here are some pictures from the competition.

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Prizes for the Winners of the CSUF Startup Competition

  • First Place: $2,500 Scholarship plus in-kind services
  • Second Place: $1,000 Scholarship plus in-kind services
  • Third Place: $750 Scholarship plus in-kind services
  • Fourth Place: $500 Scholarship plus in-kind services
  • Fifth Place: $250 Scholarship plus in-kind services
  • Sixth Place: $150 Scholarship plus in-kind services

In-kind Sponsors

  • LegalZoom
  • Rudy Chavarria – College Web Media
  • Karla Amador – Thrive Financial
  • Austin Bonderer – Law Office of Austin Bonderer, PC
  • Lorenzo Santos and Boomer Baker – Think 66
  • Jim Cooper – Braid Theory
  • Chris DeCaro – Kneadle
  • Guy Knuf – Moss Adams
  • Justin Sanders – Entralta, PC

Additionally, a big thanks to the people behind the scenes who made this competition happen, they include:

  • Dr. Atul Teckchandani
  • Professor Tom Miller
  • Professor Jack Mixner
  • Professor Jeff Longshaw
  • Charlesetta Medina
  • Phillip Stinis

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