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Turning Your Passion Into a Business @ CSUF Startup [EVENT]

CSUF Startup Incubator Jonny May and Phillip Stinis

Come see Jonny May at the CSUF Startup Incubator in Irvine on Wednesday, June 20 at 6pm! (Jonny is the one on the right)

It’s not every day that you get the opportunity to listen to a piano virtuoso and learn the secrets to entrepreneurial success but on Wednesday, June 20 you will get that opportunity! If you have followed this blog in the last couple of years you will know who I am talking about but for those of you who are uninitiated the piano playing entrepreneur I am talking about is Jonny May ’17. We will be welcoming Jonny in at 6pm at our Irvine location. Details are below and if you plan on attending please register at our Eventbrite page.

Why not make a business out of your passion?

That is exactly what CSUF Entrepreneurship graduate Jonny May has done. He has created a thriving subscription-based business out of his passion for piano playing called Piano with Jonny. On his site he has created an extensive library of lessons and educational materials for all levels of learners but it all started from his passion for playing the piano.

When Jonny was young, he took to playing the piano. He would practice for hours on end and as he grew older he became a very good pianist. So good, in fact, that he became Disneyland’s youngest pianist and he has been featured in venues as diverse as Carnegie Hall and American Idol. But Jonny, like I expect is the case with you, wanted more.

Along the way Jonny also developed a passion for teaching others how to play the piano. He had many students but Jonny is only one person. In entrepreneur lingo, that meant he was not scalable. So Jonny decided to take the leap into becoming an entrepreneur and searched for ways to teach more people and help them develop the same passion for the ivories that he has.

That’s why Jonny created Piano with Jonny: to help others turn their passion for the piano into something more. And at this talk at the CSUF Startup Incubator in Irvine, Jonny will go over the many lessons he has learned at Cal State Fullerton and through entrepreneurial trial and error and help you learn how you can turn your passion into a scalable business.

And Jonny will also treat attendees to his piano playing as well! This is a can’t miss event at the CSUF Startup Incubator and we hope to see you there!

Directions and Parking

Parking is available on the Irvine campus for a fee. For more information about parking on the CSUF Irvine campus, please go here: http://www.fullerton.edu/irvinecampus/about/campusmap.php


For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/IncubatorFor more details on how CSUF

Consulting can help businesses thrive:

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship video series:

If you want to be an Entrepreneur LEARN how to Pitch your Concept

CSUF Startup Incubator Resident Ben Yip Presenting to Investors

CSUF Startup Incubator Resident Ben Yip pitching his startup at the CSUF Startup Incubator last week. Ben’s startup helps nonprofits raise funds through couponing.

Pitching your business concept is not just about raising money. It can be about that, of course, and some of our students and residents at the CSUF Startup Incubator have raised money in part because they were good at pitching their concepts. But the reality is that the vast majority of startups do not receive funding from investors outside of their family and friends.

There are many reasons for that and while I won’t go into all of them here let it suffice to be said that investors are looking for tremendous gains not because they are greedy but, rather, because of the startups that do end up receiving funding many of those end up failing so investors have to focus only on those startups with a tremendous upside so that they can potentially make a profit. The startup business is tough but I shudder at thinking what our economy would be if not for intrepid entrepreneurs willing to take that chance at starting something great.

And by “great” I do not mean that you have to create the next Amazon. What I mean by great is a startup, it could be a business or a nonprofit, that makes a positive impact on the community. This could be through the mission of the startup, the number of people it employs, by bringing a product or service to the market that wasn’t there before, or any other of a host of things that can improve a community.

Why should you learn how to pitch your startup?

First, the obvious answer. Even if you aren’t going after investment you need to know how to pitch your startup to customers, potential employees, partners, bankers, and other stakeholders. Each pitch will be a different, potentially substantially different in terms of length and content, but they will all focus on what the core of your business is: why you are doing what you are doing and why it should matter to the people you are talking to.

The less obvious reason is so that you can sharpen your own idea of what it is that your business is about, how it is progressing, and where you want to take the business in the future. These are complicated topics to cover but the thing to keep in mind is that you won’t have a pitch that will work in perpetuity. A pitch is something that should change over time to reflect the current reality and prospects for your business.

How do you give a good pitch?

At the bottom of the page is a deck by Center for Entrepreneurship and CSUF Startup Incubator Director John Bradley Jackson on how to give a great pitch to investors. It’s comprehensive and while it’s meant for entrepreneurs who are readying themselves to pitch to investors it can absolutely be modified to fit any pitch situation you find yourself in.

If you are a tl;dr kind of reader, the basics are that:

  • Know what your goal is going in
  • Know your audience
  • Be friendly, treat your audience well
  • Focus on the big picture first and then, if the situation calls for it, drill down on specifics
  • Do not clutter your slides with too many words
  • Practice

For a pitch to investors, Director Jackson recommends using the following twelve slides:

  1. Introduction
  2. Problem
  3. Solution
  4. Market
  5. Competitive Landscape
  6. Customers and Partners
  7. Business Model
  8. Current Status
  9. Financial Projections
  10. Management Team
  11. Funding/ROI
  12. Summary

Pitches to different audience will obviously require a different set of slides or maybe no slides at all. It all depends on the situation. For example, if you are a nonprofit that is looking to sign up a business as a donor then you should have a deck that does not include the Funding/ROI slide or you could get creative and showcase what your social ROI is. If you are starting a flower shop and you need some seed money from a rich aunt you might be able to dispense with the deck and opt for a personal conversation that focuses on some of the big picture key points.

As is the case with life in general, no advice is applicable to all situations but if you understand and master the building blocks then you will be better prepared to take on different situations. The same is true with pitching.

Personally, I prefer pitches that focus more on numbers but I have found that is not the norm outside of pitches to investors (even then, emotion oftentimes plays a key role with many investors). My best recommendation is to figure out what kind of presenter you are and showcase those skills.

The corollary to that is that you should focus on the upside or good parts about your business when pitching. By no means try to hide negatives about your business or nonprofit. Instead, you should acknowledge any shortcomings that you have because sophisticated people (investors, partners, etc.) will ferret out your weaknesses. By acknowledging your weaknesses and addressing how you will make them into strengths or convincingly explaining why they are of less importance will signal to the people you are pitching to that you are a serious person who has thought things through.

What can you do to be a better pitcher?

Practice is always a good thing. There’s nothing worse than watching someone fumble through their pitch.

Directed practice is even better. One of the many things that we help residents at the CSUF Startup Incubator with is developing their pitches. Knowing the basics is a must and you can learn that anywhere but having a team of experts guiding you through the process of refining your pitch is a value beyond belief.

At the CSUF Startup Incubator, as is the case with every other incubator that I know of, we have experts who have been on both sides of the pitch. This kind of insight is critical to developing a strong pitch and if you are ready to learn how to become the entrepreneur that you were meant to be then send us an email to csufentrepreneurship@fullerton.edu to find out how the CSUF Startup Incubator can help make that happen.


Keep in touch with the weekly CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider:

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive:

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship:

To connect with the CSUF Entrepreneurship team:

What I Wish I Knew When I Started Up my 1st Company – CSUF Startup Event

CSUF Startup Talk

[This event is on Wednesday, June 6 at the CSUF Irvine campus. For information about reserving your seat and on how to park please make sure to visit the event page.]

You don’t know what you don’t know – that’s just the fact when it’s your first time starting anything new, let alone a startup. Avoid costly mistakes and set yourself up for success by learning from our mentors who have been there and done that. In this complimentary event, you will be learning from entrepreneurs, and afterwards, you will be able to network with our staff and resident mentors who can help coach you in starting your business.

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CSUF Entrepreneurship Director Jackson Profiled in VoyageLA

John Bradley Jackson talks EntrepreneurshipRecently, Cal State Fullerton’s Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship John Bradley Jackson, was profiled by VoyageLA. Here’s one of the many interesting parts from the profile:

Director Jackson said “For me, opportunity has trumped strategy. I have found that being in the right place at the right time has helped, but I have needed to be open to new adventures and options. These unplanned adventures and options have been the most satisfying choices in my life.

“Knowing my own core values has helped me make the right decisions. These values include making my family my first priority, giving to others unconditionally, and always being truthful.

“This has meant saying no to things that are not consistent with my core values regardless of the financial gain or other rewards that I might get.”

If you have the chance, you can read the whole profile at http://voyagela.com/interview/meet-john-bradley-jj-jackson-csuf-center-entrepreneurship-orange-county/


Keep in touch with the weekly CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider:

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive:

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship:

To connect with the CSUF Entrepreneurship team:

CSUF Entrepreneurship Commencement Pictures and Videos – Spring 2018

CSUF Entrepreneurship Commencement spring 2018Here are a few photos and videos from the Cal State Fullerton Commencement last weekend. (If you have any you’d like to share with us, make sure to send us a link)

To start it off, here is CSUF Entrepreneurship graduate Rachel Herzog ’18 giving her commencement speech, uh, rap. (And it was covered by the KTLA 5 Morning News for good reasons.) Continue reading

CSUPERB: CSU I-Corps July 2018 Summer Sprint – Extended Deadline June 25, 2018 at 5pm

Science BusinessThe 2018 CSU I-Corps™ Summer Sprint Program deadline has been extended to Monday, June 25, 2018, at 5:00 p.m.

The Summer Sprint is a 5-day, in-person, full-time biotechnology entrepreneurship education workshop at San Diego State University July 15-20, 2018; projects should be completed by July 31, 2018.

With funding from NSF, CSUPERB will cover participants’ travel to and from San Diego, as well as lodging and meals at San Diego State University during the Summer Sprint. Teams also win $1,000 microgrants to help advance their research-based ideas. Follow-on funding ($50,000) from the NSF is available to teams who complete the workshop.

More information about team formation and the application process can be found here: http://www.csuperb.org/csuicorps/2018-summer-sprint/ Continue reading

Congratulations CSUF Graduates! – CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider

Rachel Herzog '18

Rachel Herzog ’18

To make sure that you get all the updates from the CSUF Entrepreneurship community make sure to sign up for the weekly CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider.

This past weekend Cal State Fullerton held its graduation ceremonies. I, along with all the professors, mentors, donors, judges, guest speakers, and staff, are proud to have had a part in the education of these graduates and I am very optimistic about their futures.
While all these graduates deserve special recognition for the work they have put in to earn their degrees I want to single out one in particular, Rachel Herzog. In addition to doing very well in the CSUF Startup Competition with her partner, Vanessa Ganaden, Rachel was a President’s Scholar and she earned additional honors at graduation, including the Mihaylo College Executive Council Outstanding Student Award and the Outstanding Senior Award from the Alumni Association. We posted an interview with her that delves into her academic career, what these awards mean to her, as well as her plans for the future. Well done Rachel!
Congratulations to all the graduates! And thank you to all of the professors, mentors, guest speakers, judges, donors, and staff that make a CSUF Entrepreneurship education special.
John Bradley Jackson
Director and Professor
CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship, CSUF Consulting, & CSUF Startup Incubator

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