Lavin Entrepreneurship Center Community Newsletter
WebCompass Program Launches Website for John G. Watson FoundationThis spring, a group of San Diego State University students was tasked with developing a website for the John G. Watson Foundation as a part of the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center's WebCompass Program. The John G. Watson Foundation was established in 2012 by the San Diego Tech Coast Angels (TCA) as a memorial fund in honor of John G. Watson, who was an active angel investor with the TCA until his untimely death in 2010. The Foundation utilizes investment earnings from the Watson family to fund activities that promote entrepreneurism in Southern California.
The WebCompass team consisted of three students from different colleges on the SDSU campus: Gichuhi Kamau, pursuing his master's in Journalism and Mass Communication; Satya Srinivas Vema, pursuing his master's in Computer Science; and Zach Stevens pursuing his bachelor's in Graphic Design. The team worked on the layout and design of the website, writing content, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media tool integration. The Lavin Entrepreneurship Center Director of Programs, Bernhard Schroeder, oversaw the project and advised students on the content, strategy, design, and deliverables.
Director and CEO of the John G. Watson Foundation, Stephen Flaim requested design of the website in order to increase prominence for the organization. The new website will assist the Foundation to achieve their objective of furthering development of entrepreneurial endeavors in the San Diego region by allowing them to reach more potential partners in the community. The Foundation seeks to carry on John G. Watson's legacy and dedication to innovation by continuing to back a variety of entrepreneurial businesses, individuals, as well as events and activities in the area.
Lavin Entrepreneurship Center Intern Excels in Position with Non-Profit OrganizationThis spring semester, the Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF) hired a student intern through the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center's Qualcomm Social Internship Program to assist with marketing and fundraising in honor of TKF's 20-year anniversary. The TKF is a non-profit organization that was formed in 1995 after Tariq Khamisa, a 20-year-old college student, was killed by Tony Hicks, a 14-year-old gang member. Following the incident, his father Azim Khamisa reached out in forgiveness to Tony's grandfather, Ples Felix and together they established TKF to stop youth violence through education, mentorship, and community service programs. "TKF seeks to teach youth to manage conflict in a positive way by educating them on the principles of empathy, kindness, and forgiveness," said Executive Director, Tasreen Khamisa. "I truly believe if we deal with conflicts in this way, we can end the cycle of violence," she continued.
The TKF hired MBA student Cody Russell to work alongside the executive director on a Fundraising and Marketing Task Force. Cody was assigned with the development of marketing and media materials, coordination of press releases, and the planning and implementation of events. He also worked to redesign the TKF website as well as establish a stronger social media presence for the organization. Tasreen spoke highly of Cody's performance saying, "He is the most organized, ambitious, and driven person I have ever met, with a great attitude and temperament. The Foundation is a family and he fit in on so many levels. He really embraced our message and mission."
Cody stated that throughout the duration of the internship with TKF he learned a number of new technical skills and developed a stronger network. "Working directly with the executive director of a non-profit was eye opening to me. It was good insight to the various responsibilities that you take on as a director of a special foundation," he said. "One huge thing I got out of the experience was I learned how to meet the challenges of working for a non-profit, since they are constantly seeking funding, I really got a chance to network," he continued.
On both ends, the Qualcomm Social Internship Program proved to be a beneficial experience for all involved. We would like to thank the Tariq Khamisa Foundation for collaborating with the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center and congratulate Cody Russell on a job well done.
2016 SDSU Venture Capital Investment Competition Team SelectedThe Lavin Entrepreneurship Center is excited to announce the selection of the 2016 San Diego State University Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) team. Lavin Entrepreneurship Center Advisory Board Member, Peter Shaw and former VCIC participant, John McMillan worked to interview and identify a strong pool of MBA candidates to represent SDSU during the 2016 Regional Venture Capital Investment Competition.
The Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) is the nation's premiere strategy competition for venture-minded and entrepreneurial MBA students. The competition is designed to give the students the opportunity to emulate the behaviors of venture capitalists by acting as investors, reviewing plans submitted by actual entrepreneurial companies, and seeking funding.
The Regional VCIC is designed for eight teams of five students each. Also participating are five entrepreneurs seeking funding and a panel of ten venture capitalists who act as judges. Each team plays the role of a hypothetical venture capital firm whose job is to evaluate the available investment options and decide where to place their money. The winners from each of the seven regional events, held across the country, then compete in the Global Finals held at UNC, Chapel Hill.
The new team consists of MBA students Matt Neault, Nadim Ahmed, Irena Boostani, Karrisa Brown, and Paul Lamb with Tim Frigon, Justin Maletic, Daniel Delgado, and Alex Goldsmid serving as alternates. Past VCIC team members have often listed the experience as one of the highlights of their MBA career. Both the 2013 and 2015 VCIC teams received the Entrepreneur's Choice Award, while the 2014 team received the second place award overall.
We would like to congratulate each one of the 2016 team members on their selection and wish them all the best.
Alumni Feature – Shake Smart, Inc. Reaches New HeightsShake Smart, Inc. was founded in 2011 on the San Diego State University campus and was born from the idea fraternity brothers, Kevin Gelfand and Martin Reiman, had of developing a protein shake that was low in fat and actually tasted good. What began as one kiosk located outside of the Aztec Recreation Center on the SDSU campus has grown in to a six store chain reaching from San Diego to San Francisco. The company has experienced substantial growth in a short time period, with further expansion planned for later this year. Shake Smart is set to open a new location at Cal State University, Northridge in early August, which excites Cofounder and President/CEO, Kevin Gelfand who stated "This will be our second campus location, which we believe will be a tipping point for the company."
The company has grown immensely since their time as Aztec's Shops first-ever on-campus business operated by SDSU students. Shake Smart has created more than 100 jobs in the San Diego region, made healthy eating more accessible, and is forecasted to produce revenue of more than $2 million this year. Aside from a continued expansion plan, the team was also named one of San Diego Business Journal's Emerging Generation: 25 in their 20s. The San Diego Business Journal honored a select number of young San Diegans who are making a significant impact in the community, and identified the Shake Smart team as one of the winners from a group of 120 finalists, representing 102 companies. Of Shake Smart's success SDSU President, Elliott Hirshman called the team "A real-world role model for students in the College of Business Administration and across campus." Hirshman went on to state, "It is always gratifying when our alumni use their SDSU education as a foundation for creating new businesses and new jobs."
The Shake Smart team also recognizes how their experiences at the University prepared them for their future endeavors. Gelfand, a Lavin Entrepreneur Program alum, said "The Lavin Entrepreneurship Center and SDSU were key components of Shake Smart's success to this point. The mentors, entrepreneurial focus, and opportunity to launch our business on the campus have been invaluable to us."