Author Archives: csufblogger

Thank You Jim Roberts

2d78169Our longtime friend and CSUF Entrepreneurship in-class mentor Jim Roberts has passed on after a short illness. Most of us are no doubt shocked that Jim was sick and battling cancer. I know I was caught by surprise.

Jim retired in 2008 from a long and successful career in the Financial Services industry. Having always enjoyed helping people, he joined SCORE Orange County and since that time counseled nearly 600 small business owners, given numerous presentations to business and educational groups and designed several training programs to teach badly needed business skills. He was also a member of the SCORE leadership team.

He was also a sought-after speaker for business luncheons and dinners, presenting a variety of topics of interest to mixed audiences. Jim’s common sense approach to business issues and his ability to get quickly to the core of problems made him a popular resource for business owners and professionals.

At CSUF, Jim was an invaluable mentor to our Entrepreneurship students. His avuncular manner and keen insight were a welcome addition to my marketing classroom.  Recently, he partnered with fellow SCORE volunteer Bob Godlasky on a startup consulting project called “Open Castings.” Jim’s steady hand and commitment to the students helped deliver an outstanding result. Our clients, Bill Taormina, Sr and Will Taormina, Jr reported that this project was the “best project ever in ten years of collaboration with CSUF Entrepreneurship.” As always,  Jim asked for nothing in return.

Jim is survived by his wife, Marcia, of 39 years. Although they didn’t have children, their family consisted of rescue dogs, the latest being Basset Hounds Norton and Lucy. In his spare time, he enjoyed a good cigar, a rare pipe tobacco, a glass of bourbon, listening to music, boating on the ocean and riding his motorcycle.

A viewing will be held on Thursday, March 2 from 4pm to 8pm. The funeral will be Friday, March 3rd at 2pm. Both services will be held at McAulay and Wallace Funeral Home at 902 North Harbor in Fullerton. The burial follows at Loma Vista Cemetery on Bastanchury Road in Fullerton.

Jim Roberts, thank you for your many contributions to the Entrepreneurship program at CSUF and our community. You will be missed.

John Bradley Jackson

Director for Center for Entrepreneurship, Small Business Institute, and CSUF Startup Incubator
Professor, Entrepreneurship

CSUF Students Named Innovation Fellows

Amerika Bernal and Cristian Sanchez at Titan Fast Pitch Competition

Amerika Bernal and Cristian Sanchez at Titan Fast Pitch Competition

The CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship proudly announces that Mr. Cristian Sanchez (Entrepreneurship major) and Ms. Amerika Bernal (Accounting major) have been named “Innovation Fellows” at the nationally acclaimed University Innovation Fellows program, which is sponsored by Stanford’s and VentureWell’s Epicenter organization.

This video explains exactly what Epicenter does to promote engineering and innovation: Continue reading

Startups + Incubators = Good Sense

Vincent Yancoskie '10 - CSUF EntrepreneurshipFor many startups, joining an incubator can make good sense. Yet, incubators are not all alike; this requires the startup to do some homework and ask some basic questions.

The first question to address is for the startup itself. What type of help does your startup need? Most startups will answer this question saying that they need help finding investor capital. An infusion of cash may well help the fledgling business, but the “ask” of the investor can be a waste of time if the startup is not prepared for the “due diligence” process. Many seed investors have very specific requirements for their prospective startup investments. The list can include proof of concept, intellectual property, a full management team, documented customer development, prototypes, etc. My experience is that few startups have these essentials.

Readiness for funding is a key criterion for the startup looking for funding. The investors also want to see a “pitch” via PowerPoint, an executive summary, a business model canvas, and a business plan. Thus, this is how the incubator can help.

You need to ask the prospective incubator to describe what they do. Some incubators specialize by industry or category such as food, biotech, clean-tech, or even agriculture. Other incubators may be non-profit in nature and may focus on a geographic region with the hopes of local economic development and job creation. Still other incubators may have a decidedly aggressive investment posture with a trade of cash for a significant equity slice.

CSUF’s Startup Incubator is adjacent to the University in downtown Placentia. The Incubator provides promising and coach-able startups access to technical advice, assistance in the hunt for seed capital, a place to meet and work, a large network of veteran entrepreneurs, and expert guidance concerning patents, technology transfer, licensing, royalties, contracts, and new venture formation.

The CSUF Startup Incubator will function as a “hatchery” for innovation; the goal would be to commercialize resident startups within 180 days. Many traditional business incubators coddle new ventures and make money from renting the facility and providing professional services to them. In contrast, the CSUF Startup Incubator will aggressively challenge its residents to “succeed quickly or fail fast.” The Incubator will achieve this through stringent feasibility testing, thorough market research, verified proof of concept, and rigorous beta testing of products and services. An experienced team of content experts, innovators and entrepreneurs will optimize the commercialization process by helping innovators avoid mistakes and lost time.

Are you ready for this challenge? If so, you can learn more at Better yet, apply now!

John Bradley Jackson
Director, Center for Entrepreneurship
Professor, Entrepreneurship

Why Should a Startup Consider a Business Incubator?

Sadaf SaloutBusiness incubation is not new.

While most people recognize the dotcom era as the birth of business incubation, startups have received support from service organizations, large corporations, universities, and government agencies for decades. All have had a similar mission of helping the fledgling startup survive and become company with a viable business model, more or less.

For the record, a business incubator is an organization designed to accelerate the growth and success of entrepreneurial firms through an array of business support resources and services that could include physical space, capital, coaching, common services, and networking connections (source: Be advised that many incubators specialize by industry, technology, startup maturity, or location. Some charge rent and offer administrative services, while others take equity for their support. All offer the hope of a success transition from a company wannabe to successful entity with a viable business model.

Making that happen is no easy task since startup success statistics are pretty grim. Bloomberg recently reported that 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. What causes startup failure? There are many factors, but the list includes things such as ill-conceived business concepts without customers, lack of capital, bad management, poor market timing, lack of experience and, oddly enough, unexpected growth.

So why should an early stage startup consider getting help from a business incubator? While incubator expertise can vary greatly, here are a few reasons for considering the help of an incubator:

  1. Mentors – Most incubators offer the assistance of cagey veterans who have started and successfully managed companies. While some advice may be technical, much is wisdom earned from making tough decisions and living them.
  2. Access to Funding – Savvy investors prowl incubators with the hope of finding the next big thing. This early stage seed funding is expensive money but may be the difference between success and failure.
  3. Like Minded People – Incubators provide a watering hole for innovative startups that have similar visions of business success. Often the incubator environment is stimulating and fun. The camaraderie can be contagious.
  4. Mistake Repellent – OK, I invented that term. Look at this way, an incubator can provide a road map of how to start up a startup. This includes what to do and what pitfalls to avoid. This counsel can save time and money. Big time.
  5. Introductions to Professional Services – This can include intellectual property attorneys, CPAs and bookkeepers, insurance agents, and sources for manufacturing prototypes. Once again this can save time and money.
  6. Accountability – Some incubators are run like boot camps with daily intellectual aerobics; others softly coach and prod the founders forward, but all hold the startups to well defined goals and milestones. This may be the most important factor to consider.

Starting up a business is unbelievably exhilarating and perilous. While you can go at it alone, business incubation can provide a safer and quicker path to success.

John Bradley Jackson

Director of the CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship and Founder of the CSUF Startup Incubator


CSUF Startup Incubator Needs Innovative Business Concepts

BoratGot a great idea for a new business but not sure what to do next? Looking for other like-minded people who want collaborate, share your ideas, and make the world a better place? If that is you, then the CSUF Startup Incubator is the place for you.
At the Placentia campus, The CSUF Startup Incubator provides promising and coach-able innovators access to technical advice, assistance in the hunt for seed capital, a place to meet and work, a large network of veteran entrepreneurs, and expert guidance concerning patents, technology transfer, licensing, royalties, contracts, and new venture formation.
The Incubator is located at 120 South Bradford in Placentia with 910 square feet and uses a “hotel” concept to optimize space usage. The facility layout is open and casual. It has pod-like work areas for the innovation teams, along with meeting spaces and private office spaces. The Incubator will also provide virtual support to the innovator’s commercialization projects using the latest collaboration tools. The Placentia Campus has been made possible by the generosity of the City of Placentia.

Apply Now!

Two Part Time Paid Student Mentors Needed

Bryan Duncan gives a Science on a Sphere presentation at the Beautiful Earth (Bella Gaia) program for Middle school students from Annapolis Middle, Goddard French Immersion School. You might not be doing something as cool as teaching with holograms but you will definitely be making a difference in kids' lives. Credit: NASA/Goddard/Bill Hrybyk

Bryan Duncan gives a Science on a Sphere presentation at the Beautiful Earth (Bella Gaia) program for Middle school students from Annapolis Middle, Goddard French Immersion School.
You might not be doing something as cool as teaching with holograms but you will definitely be making a difference in kids’ lives.
Credit: NASA/Goddard/Bill Hrybyk

The University has secured a grant which provides an after school program at 4 middle schools in Anaheim. This after school program will teach the children science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and the principles of entrepreneurship, which includes the lean startup philosophy.

We will need two CSUF Business students who will work 4-8 hours a week at the middle school with hours of approximately of 3 – 6 pm. This program begins in early October.

Please contact John Bradley Jackson at the Center for Entrepreneurship at or 657 278 8413.

This will look great on your resume! and it will pay $12.00 per hour.

flickr | NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Patent Trolls in the 19th Century?

Sharks in Iowa?

As strange as it sounds, “patent trolls” are not just a 21st century problem. It turns out this type of predator was also present in the late 1800s. Back then the trolls were called “patent sharks” and they were just as crafty as present day patent trolls.

Circa 1860 the US Patent Office made a decision to loosen up patent standards for designs of farm implements: plows, grain cradles, pitchforks, etc. This policy decision was met with a flurry of inferior and non-specific patents which then opened the door for the patent sharks.

The patent sharks would travel to isolated farm communities and threaten the farmers who were using the farm tools with the oblique patents. A quick cash settlement would normally avoid court. Sound familiar? The farmers protested to the Feds but little happened for about a decade. Later the US Patent Office returned to the higher patent standards that existed prior to the Civil War.

Lessons for the 21st Century? A good patent is a specific patent.  The Federal Government ain’t so smart. The small business man (the farmer of today) is the best prey for the troll. Bad guys follow the money.

Want to learn more about how to protect your small business or start up from the Patent Trolls? Come join CSUF Entrepreneurship at our seminar called:

Patent Trolls and Other IP-Related Threats:
How to Protect Your Business from a New Kind of Predator

Presented by: The CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship and CSUF Center for Family Business

Date: Wed., January, 22, 2014
Time: 6:00 p.m. (reception begins at 5:30 p.m.)
Location: Mihaylo College of Business and Economics
The O’Brien Center, Third Floor
800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton

John Bradley Jackson
Director, Center for Entrepreneurship