Lavin Entrepreneurship Center Community Newsletter
Lavin Entrepreneurs Honored at Graduation CelebrationOn April 22, the Lavin Entrepreneur Class of 2015 gathered at Dr. Leonard Lavin's home in Rancho Santa Fe to mark their graduation from San Diego State University and the Lavin Entrepreneur Program. At the event, Executive Director of the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center, Dr. Alex DeNoble congratulated each of the Lavin Entrepreneurs on their achievements and presented them with a graduation sash to honor their time in the program. Lavin Entrepreneurs, Brittney Franks and Sean Dreiling also spoke at the event expressing their gratitude and thanking Mr. Lavin for his continued support of the program and in turn their entrepreneurial goals. The graduating Lavin students then had the opportunity to interact with Dr. Lavin during a poolside lunch.
The Lavin Entrepreneur Program provides a select group of talented undergraduate students with an unforgettable experience designed to prepare them for an entrepreneurial career. Graduates of the two-year program learn how to identify and evaluate new business opportunities, understand the roles and responsibilities of an entrepreneur and how to marshal and deploy resources in order to launch and build new ventures. In addition, they develop potentially life-long relationships with industry experts, faculty, mentors and Lavin Entrepreneurship Center staff all to fuel their entrepreneurial careers
We are pleased to have had the opportunity to work with this exceptional group of young entrepreneurial individuals. Each one has proven their dedication to entrepreneurship by pursuing different ventures and participating in entrepreneurial activities and events on the campus and within the community. We wish them all the best in their future endeavors and look forward to continued collaboration.
LaunchIn Connects SDSU Students with Local CompaniesThe Lavin Entrepreneurship Center, in conjunction with the SDSU Entrepreneur Society hosted the 3rd semiannual LaunchIn on Thursday, April 22. The event kicked off with a panel of startup founders featuring Adam Riggs-Zeigen, Co-founder/CEO of Rock My Run; John Lococo, President/Co-founder of Soccerloco; Michelle Weinstein, Founder and CEO/President of Fitzee Foods; and Mitch Patridge, CEO of ClearBalance. The panel discussed their entrepreneurial experiences and answered questions asked by students in attendance. Following the hour-long Q&A session, nearly 300 students filled the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center to network with local companies all looking to hire. This year the event featured a record 37 companies in attendance. Companies were in need of students with a variety of skill sets ranging from business to graphic design to software engineering.
LaunchIn was an extremely successful event and we would like to thank all of the companies that participated for their support. We would also like to extend a warm thank you to LaunchIn Gold Level Sponsors, Torrey Pines Bank and Union Bank.
Lavin Entrepreneurship Center Secures Logan Heights GrantThrough a synergistic partnership, the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center and the San Diego State University Small Business Consulting Center are currently working with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to perform a market analysis and training workshop project for the Greater Logan Heights community to help move the area forward entrepreneurially. LISC is dedicated to helping transform neighborhoods into healthy and sustainable communities with varying opportunities for business development and growth.
The project will be headed by Lavin Entrepreneurship Center Director of Programs, Bernhard Schroeder and SDSU Professor of Marketing, Donald Sciglimpaglia who will oversee a team of SDSU students working in the community. The team consists of Jesse Robels and Raul Hernandez Ochoa, both bilingual undergraduate business students and MBA student Alissa Thompson, who have all previously completed small business consulting programs as part of their coursework. "We plan to reach out to businesses in the Greater Logan Heights community to better determine their needs and offer them business assistance," said Schroeder. "We are looking to make a positive impact by providing the selected business owners with the necessary tools to encourage a more entrepreneurial climate in the neighborhood," he continued.
2015 Larry and Madeline Petersen Scholarship Recipient – Ruth TadesseThe Lavin Entrepreneurship Center is pleased to announce Ruth Tadesse as the 2015 Larry and Madeline Petersen Scholarship in Entrepreneurship recipient. Ruth is an undergraduate student majoring in Computer Science and a current member of the Lavin Entrepreneur Program. "I was drawn to the Lavin Program because I saw it as an opportunity to learn about not just one aspect of business, but multiple aspects," said Ruth. "I have always been business oriented. My parents started their own business and I have always been inspired by that," she continued.
Outside of the classroom, Ruth is an active member of the San Diego State University Entrepreneur Society and has a keen interest in Web and mobile app development. She previously worked for the Bioinformatics lab at SDSU where she helped develop an Android app that serves as a guidebook for marine biologists that can be found in the Google Play store. This summer Ruth will intern as an Engineering IT Developer at Hewlett-Packard in Sacramento. Looking to the future, Ruth says she is interested in building her own software service or platform to satisfy a need in the marketplace. "I would like to develop the skill set to notice a problem and then be able to solve it," she said.
The Larry and Madeline Petersen Scholarship in Entrepreneurship provides support to full-time students, encouraging them to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams and transform their ideas and inventions into profitable businesses.
Alumni Spotlight – Greg Crisci"My life finally started making more sense while going through the Lavin Entrepreneur Program," said Greg Crisci, a digital marketing specialist and Lavin Entrepreneur Program alumnus. "Through the program I was able to interact with C-levels, investors, and other entrepreneurs allowing me to test my communication skills with them," he continued. Greg is the CEO of Tip Network, Inc., a digital platform for the hospitality industry that tracks, manages, reports, and distributes tips earned and shared by their staff.
Greg was inspired to start Tip Network while waiting tables, when he found he was constantly going to the bank to deposit the tips he earned. On one occasion, with about $800 cash in hand, Greg received a notification from his bank stating his credit card bill was overdue and he immediately began developing the plan for a service that would allow for digital tipping. Greg struck up a conversation with Bernhard Schroeder, Lavin Entrepreneurship Center Director of Programs, after attending a business plan talk he delivered and was encouraged to apply for the Lavin Entrepreneur Program. From then on "I fell in love with entrepreneurship and I don't see there being any other way I'd like to live my life," Greg said.
On the biggest lesson he's learned while building his company Greg said he found that "loyalty is more important than money or skills." At one specific moment during the growth of Tip Network he had to make the tough decision of lowering his co-founder's equity by almost half to make room for two additional hires. When his co-founder told him he would stick by him, Greg realized it was not all about the money. "It was about building something with someone and having that trust that you need in your co-founders so that you can operate at your best," he said.
Today, Greg lists the Lavin Entrepreneur Program as one of the highlights of his academic career stating "I was never one to follow the status quo, so it was freeing to see that this underground world existed of likeminded people who hated being contained in a box." As for advice for current and graduating students Greg says, "Start learning how to raise money and meet as many investors and other entrepreneurs as possible." Beyond building connections he advises, "Realize that your goal is to not be good at everything. Your job is to recognize what you are good at and fill the void with the most reliable people you can find."