Category Archives: Education

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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CSUF Entrepreneurship Students Working on Philanthropic Startup Interviewed by VoyageLA

Alan Cerna and Branden Wells Apprentice Builds CSUF Startup Competition Semifinals

Branden Wells (left) and Alan Cerna at the CSUF Startup Competition Semifinals. They and their business, Apprentice Builds, were recently covered in VoyageLA and you can see them on Friday, April 6 at the CSUF Startup Competition Finals as they vie for a share of the more than $10,000 in scholarships and in-kind services.

We tell people this all the time: Entrepreneurship is rarely about raising millions of dollars and launching a tech company. Rather, entrepreneurship is about innovating and working on solutions that will make the world a better place and that is exactly why two of our Entrepreneurship students, Branden Wells and Alan Cerna, were recently interviewed by VoyageLA.

Pictured above, Branden and Alan have been working on the launch of their startup, Apprentice Builds, since last fall both in the classroom and at the CSUF Startup Incubator. Apprentice Builds’ mission is to teach teenagers the skills and responsibilities that come along with working on cars, especially hot rods. As you probably already know all too well, most schools have been dropping classes like the ones that Apprentice Builds are creating for decades now and that has left a hole in the educational fabric.

You can see Branden and Alan compete in the upcoming CSUF Startup Competition Finals on April 6 as they vie for a share in the more than $10,000 in scholarships and in-kind services available to the finalists.

Here’s a small bit from the article, I strongly recommend that you read the remainder on the VoyageLA website:

Apprentice Builds is a non-profit organization program that serves all high students in the low income or at-risk areas by providing knowledge and an opportunity to participate in an apprenticeship. Apprentice Builds works to reduce gang membership, drug use, and dropout rates by providing an outlet where the youth can learn valuable skills needed in today’s workforce. Students gain hands on skills building hot rods with experience mechanics and fabricators.

What makes the organization unique is not only the fact that students get to work on cool hot rods and cars but are taught responsibility taking the apprenticeship as a job and not a program anyone can be a part of. One of the biggest goals of the organization is to help these students leave the program with a second chance at knowing they’re better people than what they’re taught to be. With a mentor by their side, every student will have the proper guidance to stay on track with their life goals.

Branden and Alan continue to diligently work on Apprentice Builds and, as a reminder, you can see them at the CSUF Startup Competition Finals on Friday, April 6 from 1pm to 4pm at the Titan Student Union. There, they will be vying for a portion of the more than $10,000 in scholarships and in-kind services with their Apprentice Builds concept.


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6 Things Our Business School Teaches Students About Entrepreneurship

CSUF Startup Competition Semifinals Vanessa Ganaden and Rachel Herzog

Two CSUF Entrepreneurship students, Vanessa Ganaden (left) and Rachel Herzog (right), pitching their concept at the recent CSUF Startup Competition Semifinals. They are advancing to the Finals of the competition where they stand to win part of the more than $10,000 in scholarships and in-kind services!

We were recently sent an article titled 6 Things Business School Won’t Teach You About Entrepreneurship by Corey Ferreira that we largely agree with and completely disagree with at the same time. Mr. Ferreira’s contention is that business schools do not teach entrepreneurship in a way that is actionable for most people. He goes on to list six areas where business schools are deficient. We largely agree with his view of entrepreneurship and how for most of us entrepreneurship is about hustling and getting things done with limited resources.

But we have to disagree with his contention that business schools, especially the business school at Cal State Fullerton, do not prepare students well enough for this reality. At Cal State Fullerton we teach students many of the lessons Mr. Ferreira outlines in his article and we build on that through the CSUF Startup Incubator, entrepreneurial student clubs, and competitions like the upcoming CSUF Startup Competition. Below are my responses to the six areas Mr. Ferreira identified in his article.

A business can be scrappy

Our curriculum and our students embody scrappiness. We teach our students what it means to bootstrap a business and bolster those teachings with many guest speakers who have been there, done that. Mr. Ferreira rightly notes that many startups have to embrace a scrappy ethic in order to launch their business and we inculcate our students with hard won lessons on how to do that.

For example, central to much of our teaching is the need to create a minimum viable product (MVP) because that way you can test your hypothesis about what your customers want without having to create a finished product out of the gate. Buttressing the MVP is market research that involves actually getting out of the building and talking with potential customers. This process gives entrepreneurs with limited resources the best opportunity for success because they will inevitably find out so much valuable information from interviewing customers, launching an MVP, and iterating off of their results.

In a bygone era the formula was to come up with an idea, raise money, and launch at scale. Those days aren’t completely gone but for the vast majority of businesses those days aren’t around anymore. So, we agree on the necessity of launching with a lean business model but I cannot agree with his contention that business schools, at least ours, don’t teach realistic business practices.

Plans aren’t the most important thing

In the CSUF entrepreneurship program, we agree that plans aren’t the most important thing. They’re important as far as they go; they help to crystallize the entrepreneur’s vision and helps him think through the process of launching a business but, as we teach all of our students, plans should be written in pencil. Changes will inevitability happen when faced with results that do not meet the entrepreneur’s hypothesis about any facet of his business.

In the classroom, we give supremacy to the creation of a lean business model canvas, which is a one page document that succinctly lays out the nine most important factors that determine a business’ success. That’s right, a one page document. Yes, we do have the students go through the process of filling out those key hypotheses found in the lean model in a full business plan but we stress the necessity of creating a plan that must be updated frequently and having an entrepreneurial mindset that embraces nimbleness and the ability to change. As Mr. Ferreira notes, these are called pivots and this is a concept that is very familiar to all of our students.

How to set goals

Mr. Ferreira states that: “So many entrepreneurs know what they want to do, but they don’t really  know how to do it. Setting goals makes it easier to determine the path  since you can reverse-engineer from where you want to be.”

We can quibble on this. In the CSUF Entrepreneurship program we favor the ground up approach to planning and then setting goals that are hard to achieve but not impossible. Goal setting done right is a skill that must be learned by doing and we have a program that stresses doing. Every one of our entrepreneurship students works on a startup with the goal being to go from concept to launch. These businesses are incubated in the classroom over the course of two semesters with the guidance of faculty and mentors (our mentor pool of over 600 people includes professionals from all disciplines and many entrepreneurs).

Goal setting is also baked into our curriculum through the processes already discussed in this post as part of the process of iterating from MVP to a final product. We believe and teach our students that what isn’t measured doesn’t improve and it is goals that are measured.

Marketing in the 21st century

Mr. Ferreira accurately describes the ephemeral nature of marketing today. Social media, by design, is geared towards the creation of content that has a very short lifespan. Glance at a Tweet, move on. Read a Facebook post, move on. Watch a video on YouTube, move on. The staccato nature of today’s media is ever changing and keeping up with everything is impossible.

And yet, we do teach how to thrive in this atmosphere by drawing on many of the same lessons that are applicable in other parts of our entrepreneurial curriculum. By discovering and knowing who your customers are and experimenting on how to effectively communicate with them you can set yourself up for success. All of our professors draw on their academic research or professional experiences to teach modern marketing techniques to our students.

How to be creative

The ineffable qualities of creativity are hard to teach, says Mr. Ferreira, and he’s pretty much right about that. But there are ways to teach students so that they can maximize the creative gifts that they already posses. At CSUF Entrepreneurship we view creativity as if it were a muscle, the more you work at it the stronger your creative muscle becomes.

While there isn’t a formula for creativity we have developed our curriculum so that our students have many opportunities to work out their creative muscles. All students majoring in entrepreneurship at Cal State Fullerton get the opportunity to do consulting working for actual businesses. Our CSUF Consulting program enables students to put into practice the lessons that they have learned in the classroom and that is an extremely creative process. Figuring out ways to create winning strategies for clients in a wide range of areas (including: marketing, operations, leadership, and finance) is a fantastic way to develop a student’s creativity.

Risk-taking

The CSUF Entrepreneurship program has a somewhat more nuanced view of risk taking than Mr. Ferreira has. The way we see it, all risks are not equal. Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to build an app that you think the market wants is certainly a risk but it is not a good risk.

We teach our students to take small, containable risks that can be used as stepping stones towards creating products and services that the market actually wants. At its core, entrepreneurship is about trailblazing but it’s not about the kind of Leroy Jenkins-style trailblazing that almost always ends in doom and despair.

In the classroom, we do teach our students that failure is a fundamentally healthy part of entrepreneurship. This can be seen in everything that we teach: every decision is not carved in stone but, rather, an experiment to see what works and what doesn’t. Our whole lean startup approach is predicated on this belief.

If Mr. Ferreira is game, we would happily extend him the offer to sit in on some of our classes because we’re confident that he will see that the CSUF Entrepreneurship program is not like the business schools he describes in his article.


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Get Better, Network – CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider

Networks are everywhere and they help determine how a lot of the things that get done happen, especially today. In this edition of the CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider Director Jackson discusses the importance of networking as a way to increase opportunities all around and provides links to a few events that are a good way to increase your network.

One thing of interest to note is that a couple of the events listed are not hosted by Cal State Fullerton, one of them is actually hosted by Cal Poly. Expanding your network or, more accurately, your involvement with many different networks is a key way for you to dramatically increase your opportunities.

Briefly, networking is about creating more opportunities for yourself and for others as well. This is the case because the more people you meet and the more people you develop close bonds with the more opportunities you will have and, by extension, others will have as well. If you are an entrepreneur you need to view networking as part of your job and that means becoming an active member in your community; examples of communities are the CSUF Entrepreneurship community and your local bowling league.

Don’t mistake this for a call to go to events with your mind on selling. And networking is not all about going to events either, not by a long shot. The key part in that last paragraph was really about developing close bonds with people. These are people that you collaborate with on projects, have lunch with from time to time, or in some way communicate with on a consistent basis.

But it all starts with getting out there and meeting people. To that end, here are a mixture of four upcoming events for you that are potentially network expanding:

From Fear to Courage by American Idol’s William Hung is this Wednesday at 6pm at the CSUF Startup Incubator (Irvine) and his talk will delve into his seven steps for achieving your goals.

The Cal Poly Alumni OC Scholarship Fundraiser is this Thursday starting at 6pm and it is a great way to support bright students and to start expanding your network to people from another university.

After months of work on the part of our students, the CSUF Startup Competition Finals will be on April 6 starting at 1pm in the Titan Student Union. Come to hear the creative startup concepts that our students have come up with and to meet other entrepreneurially-minded members of the community.

On April 12 is Ignite 22, a tech showcase that is being hosted by CSUF Entrepreneurship Ambassador Jim Cooper and his company, Braid Theory. At this event you will get to meet with and learn from some of the shining lights in the tech industry.

Networking is a fascinating subject and while there are a lot of books on how to network, you have probably read at least a couple of them, there are two recent books that delve into how networks work that I think you should read. One is by CSUF Entrepreneurship Professor David Obstfeld called Getting New Things Done and the other is The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson. You can learn a lot from these books and they can make for good conversation starters at the next event you attend.

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

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Want to Learn Google-Tested Strategies to Enhance Your Teaching?

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

On March 21 and 22 (it’s one seminar that is being offered on both of these dates), SINC will be hosting a seminar on “How to use what you already have to design high-performance environments and increase student engagement through design thinking.” 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


#CSUF

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:
bit.ly/csufentrepreneurship

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:
bit.ly/csufincubator

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive:
bit.ly/csufconsulting

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:
bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurEvents

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship:
bit.ly/CSUFknowledge

Funding Your Big Idea – CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider

Funding your idea is hard to do, especially if you are in one of the STEM fields and your concept has never been done before. How do you fund your idea then? In this edition of the CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider you will find an event we are hosting this Wednesday that will answer your questions.

As I reviewed the submissions from our CSUF Startup Competition I was pleasantly surprised to see a good number of the concepts were in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). There are so many emergent opportunities in those fields and I know that our students are up for the challenge.

Part of that challenge is funding. And that isn’t a small challenge either, especially when you are working in a field where you will probably need a decent amount of research and development before you even launch. That’s one of the reasons why we’re very happy to have an expert in the STEM funding field in to speak at the CSUF Startup Incubator in Placentia this Wednesday.

Jim Cooper, said expert, will give the talk Funding Moonshots this Wednesday at 6pm. In this talk, Jim will cover the funding options available to STEM entrepreneurs and how they can effectively raise funds for their groundbreaking concepts.

We hope to see you there!

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

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CSUF Entrepreneurship Student Heading to Stanford MBA

Phillipe Rodriguez

Phillipe Rodriguez (Photo Credit: National Contract Management Association)

Graduating summa cum laude with University Honors as a major in Physics, emphasis in business, and concentration in national security and intelligence is a feat in and of itself but Phillipe Rodriguez didn’t stop there. During his academic career, he has been a member of the Honors Board, Cal State D.C. Scholars Program, the Intelligence Community Scholars Program, Sigma Upsilon Mu Entrepreneurship Fraternity, Phi Beta Lambda, and the Physics Club.

Phillipe didn’t start his illustrious academic career in college. While in high school, Phillipe’s AP physics teacher helped Phillipe attain an internship at Cal State Fullerton under the mentorship of Dr. Khakoo. During this time, he worked in the electron scattering laboratory. It was here that Phillipe honed in on his love of physics and the complexities it offered him. Although he enjoyed physic it also was his most challenging subject, so choosing it as his major was a task that he had to work on every day. Through his connection with Dr. Khakoo, Phillipe was introduced to the Dan Black Physics Business program which offered him scholarships to pay his tuition.

Phillipe learned many important life lessons during his time at CSUF; however, there are several that were most important to him. “First off, be grateful to those who have helped shape the reality that you live in.  There have been so many individuals who have helped me along my collegiate career that I dare not call out names individually as much as I can help it – they know who they are.” Phillipe also believes in paying it forward. Receiving scholarships though the Dan Black Physics Business helped him learn this lesson. “The Dan Black Physics Business Program heavily supported my tuition.  Dan Black told me that the scholarships I received were simply a loan, and that it is up to us to support future generations of scholars.”

Because of this promise, Phillipe started a scholarship fund called the Rodriguez Graduate Admissions Scholarship for the College of Natural Science and Mathematics. He then went on to fund a grant for the University Honors Senior Honors Project for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Phillipe is now working for the United States Air Force as an acquisition civilian at the Space and Missile Systems Center. Because of his background in physics, entrepreneurial studies and national securities and intelligence, Phillipe fit perfectly into this position. He credits his education in physics helps him solve problems that arise while working. His skills in entrepreneurial business give him the understanding of financial data and lean methodologies. And his national securities studies have shown him how to appreciate the work that he does.

Phillipe has sought to stand out in the acquisition community through his numerous professional endeavors. Phillipe is currently the Vice President of Programs for the National Contract Management Association (NCMA) South Bay Chapter, and successfully passed his NCMA Certified Federal Contracts Manager (CFCM) examination in December. Furthermore, he was selected to participate in NCMA’s prestigious Contract Management Leadership Development Program (CMLDP), which selected 21 contracting professionals from industry and government to participate in the 2017-2018 cohort. This past year Phillipe participated in the inaugural Stanford Hoover Institution Summer Policy Bootcamp, and completed the program with distinction. Among the professional education that he has received with the Air Force, in a contracting course taught by the Air Force Institute of Technology, Phillipe was top graduate among his peers and earned the title of distinguished graduate.

Phillipe leaves our community with some lasting advice. The advice comes from a man who knows about limits and taking on too much. “Much like our muscles or cardiovascular endurance, our capacity to manage our time can become more effective only when it has been put under stress.  Therefore, we shouldn’t inhibit ourselves to tasks that may appear to be difficult.  We only need to heed the warning signs that are placed in front of us, and when we see that we cannot accomplish all that we have set out to do until risk of fatigue, then we must either withdraw or ask for a helping hand – knowing when to do so has made all the difference.”

During his senior year at Cal state Fullerton, Phillipe applied to Stanford to earn his MBA. He was accepted and deferred his admission until this fall. He hopes to continue his career in a leadership position in the Department of Defense. We look forward to seeing where Phillipe ends up and what other impacts he will have on the future.

Written by Mary Hartley and Traci Muldoon


#CSUF

Keep in touch with the weekly CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider:
bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurInsider

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:
bit.ly/csufentrepreneurship

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:
bit.ly/csufincubator

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive:
bit.ly/csufconsulting

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:
bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurEvents

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship:
bit.ly/CSUFknowledge