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Saturday, August 19th 2017

Former Lavin Entrepreneur: Founder of Tip Network

April 5th, 2017

Greg Crisci Founder of Tip Network, Greg Crisci, graduated from SDSU with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing in 2011. Already an idea he was working on, in April of 2012 he founded Tip Network, a platform that unravels and automates the process of the $40 billion in tips flowing throughout restaurants, bars, and night clubs, by converting the cash, including credit card tips, into digital currency and provides feedback and insights back to the restaurants throughout the process. After early success, Crisci received an offer to sell Tip Network to another company known as NetSpend and he now serves as its Senior Product Manager of Tips.

In his free time, Crisci gives back to the SDSU community by serving as a mentor in the Lavin Entrepreneurship Program, where he was also a former Lavin Entrepreneur student. The time and guidance Crisci contributes to mentoring current Lavin Entrepreneurs helps to shape their entrepreneurial futures. With the help of mentors, like Crisci, these aspiring entrepreneurs gain valuable mindsets and key knowledge to equip them for when they are ready to start their own company or just explore their entrepreneurial path.


Current Lavin Student: Owner of Bamboo Tranquility

March 20th, 2017

Milovan Headshot Milovan Simic, a member of the ’15-’17 Lavin Entrepreneur cohort, is a transfer student at SDSU majoring in Marketing. As a student in the two-year Lavin Entrepreneur Program, Milovan has had the opportunity to identify and evaluate new business opportunities, understand the roles and the responsibilities it takes to be an entrepreneur, and use his resources to build and launch new ventures.

After falling in love with bamboo textile bed sheets, Milovan was constantly on the hunt to find great quality products at a reasonable price. With no such luck, that’s when he decided to begin the process of building up a business that offers quality bamboo textile products at a competitive price. Today, he currently runs his own online luxury-bedding store, Bamboo Tranquility.

Students, like Milovan, who are always on the lookout for new and exciting business opportunities are able to use a variety of resources from the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center and Zahn Innovation Platform LaunchPad to build a business. They get to learn from professionals, meet successful people, and gain valuable insights from their mentors. They also have the opportunity to be a part of Entrepreneur Day, which is hosted by the Entrepreneur Society (ES) at SDSU, in combination with the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center, to showcase and sell products they have developed. These courses and opportunities the program provides help to aid and grow students in their entrepreneurial careers.


Former Lavin Entrepreneur: CEO & Founder of Help Flow

March 6th, 2017

Jon Tucker Headshot Passionate about the internet and all it has to offer, Jonathan Tucker first founded Compete Marketing Group, an online marketing agency, but later moved on and founded his eCommerce live chat service company, Help Flow in June of 2014. Help Flow assists various companies by speaking with prospects who are visiting a company’s website in real time. Because Help Flow makes it easy for prospects to ask questions, a greater percentage of prospects from a company’s existing traffic become leads and sales.

Jonathan Tucker, a former Lavin Entrepreneur student, graduated from San Diego State University in 2009 with his degree in Business Administration and Marketing. Now Tucker serves as a mentor of the Lavin Entrepreneur Program, where a group of select undergraduate students is able to engage in a remarkable experience designed to prepare them for their entrepreneurial career. In this two-year program, students get paired with mentors, like Tucker, that seek and serve to help students identify and evaluate new business opportunities, understand the roles and responsibilities of being an entrepreneur, and assemble and implement resources in order to build and launch their new ventures. This program allows students to develop potentially life-long relationships with industry experts, faculty, mentors and Lavin Entrepreneurship Center staff to fuel their entrepreneurial careers.


Founder & CEO of Restoar a Former Lavin Entrepreneur

February 20th, 2017

Sean Dreiling, a ’13-’15 Lavin Entrepreneur student from Redondo Beach, CA founded his skincare company, Restoar, in February of 2015 and has continued growth success to date. Dreiling was able to use his knowledge and focus his efforts on building his company and product with the help of the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center. While at SDSU, Sean was accepted into the Lavin Entrepreneur Program, a two-year immersive quasi honors program that has spawned multiple entrepreneurs. In collaboration with the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center, Dreiling spent a year at the Zahn Innovation Platform LaunchPad incubator to improve his product and later showcase and sell it on campus at the Lavin Center’s Entrepreneur Day. This event allows students like Dreiling to celebrate and share with the campus their entrepreneurial spirit and test their company idea.

 LAVIN ENTREPRENEUR STUDENT WINS AT ICSB ACADEMY Dreiling’s company, Restoar, is a skincare company that seeks to help people lead "healthy, authentic & purposeful" lives by providing a skincare product that simplifies the everyday skincare routine. After just a few years in business, Restoar’s Facial Toner has received many great reviews and strives to provide amazing customer satisfaction. Dreiling created a product that takes a standard ingredient found at the supermarket in combination with other natural and organic ingredients and turns it into a life-enhancing skincare product.

Dreiling was provided with the resources and help of both the Lavin Program and ZIP Launchpad to build his company and product. Both SDSU centers helped Dreiling expand his capabilities as an entrepreneur, including providing him with mentors, and combining those resources with his education, work experience, and knowledge.


Lavin Entrepreneur Student Wins at ICSB Academy

June 14th, 2016
 LAVIN ENTREPRENEUR STUDENT WINS AT ICSB ACADEMY

Garrett Wilson, a member of the 2015-2017 Lavin Entrepreneur cohort, attended the 2016 International Council for Small Business (ICSB) Academy. The ICSB Academy provides students with a full immersion experience in the making of a new entrepreneurial venture, while exposing them to the latest developments in entrepreneurship education under the mentorship of a global team of successful entrepreneurship experts. The 2016 ICSB Academy featured 140 students from 18 different countries. Garrett was one of four students who attended from San Diego State University.

Garrett commented on his experience at the ICSB Academy, “My time at the ICSB Conference was invaluable. I gained cultural awareness by being around people from over 18 different countries. I also learned about how my current business idea's could work in other countries. I have gained insight into how to market my companies better as well. Overall, I believe, the most valuable insight I gained as a result of the ICSB Academy is market validation.” During the academy, students formed teams which generated a business ideas which they presented in front of a group of judges. Garrett’s team won first place from the judges, solidifying him a spot in attending the next 2017 ICSB World Conference held in Argentina. Garrett’s experience at the ICSB Academy was invaluable, “I am blessed to have this gained confidence as a result of the ICSB academy.”


Event turns SDSU into market

March 10th, 2016
Entrepreneur Day

The San Diego Union Tribune published an article, Event turns SDSU into a market, featuring several present and former Lavin Entrepreneur students who participated in the 2016 annual Entrepreneur Day on San Diego State University’s campus. Entrepreneur Day is hosted by the Entrepreneur Society (ES) in collaboration with the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center, and brings together SDSU alumni and student run companies to celebrate the mutual passion for entrepreneurship. About 45 students and 10 alumni participated in setting up a booth along Centennial Walkway in the central part of campus. Throughout the event, over 20,000 students, faculty and staff walked through this entrepreneurial village, giving the students a chance to pitch their products to consumers.

As part of the Lavin Entrepreneur two-year intensive program, students in both cohorts were required to participate in Entrepreneur Day. The article highlighted the students success and struggle of selling their products. Ruth Tadesse, a 2014-2016 Lavin Entrepreneur, spoke of the experience selling a product she had bought from a manufacturer, “I really wanted to see if I could pick up a trend and see what products I should push into the market”. Not all students chose to sell a purchased product, Eric Birkemeier, a 2015-2017 Lavin Entrepreneur, sold an original product. Birkemeier commented in the article of only selling three products, however the experience gave him the opportunity to meet prospective customers and gain their feedback. In addition to current Lavin Entrepreneur students participating, SDSU alumni who have worked with the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center also had booths for Entrepreneur Day. Representatives from companies such as Blenders Eyewear, Shake Smart and Pura Vida came back to sell products and encourage students on campus to pursue entrepreneurship.

The entire article from the San Diego Union Tribune can be found online at this link.


Former Lavin Entrepreneur Featured as CEO of the Week

March 2016
CEO of the Week

In March 2016, CEO Golf featured Nicholas Slettengren as CEO of the week. Nicholas Slettengren is the Founder of Power Digital Marketing, an online marketing agency in San Diego. Slettengren told CEO Golf the best piece of advice that helped shape who he is as an entrepreneur today, the biggest mistake he has made in business, how he defines success, and what he recommends all aspiring entrepreneurs do.

Nicholas Slettengren graduated from San Diego State University in 2009 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. During his time at SDSU he participated in the first cohort of the Lavin Entrepreneur program from 2008-2009, back when the program was only a one-year commitment. Slettengren has reflected memorably on his time as a Lavin Entrepreneur. Since being featured on CEO Golf Slettengren has commented, “The Lavin Center has given me the knowledge, mentorship, and resources to develop my entrepreneurial skill-set and launch a multimillion dollar digital marketing agency in San Diego.” His involvement with the Center has continued to grow since leaving the program. Starting out as a mentor to other students in the program, Slettengren is now also on the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center’s Board of Advisors.

The spotlight featuring Slettengren from CEO Golf can be found online at this link.


Kickass Entrepreneur: Shake Smart

June 2nd, 2015
ShakeSmart

Discover SD, a website with a mission to help great new businesses, events and services get discovered by residents of San Diego, featured Shake Smart in June 2015. The article highlighted the journey these two founders have had since the first Shake Smart kiosk opened on San Diego State University’s campus in January of 2011, to the expansion of having multiple locations across California.

Both founders of Shake Smart, Kevin Gelfand and Martin Reiman, graduated from San Diego State University. Kevin Gelfand, President of Shake Smart, participated in the Lavin Entrepreneur program during his time at SDSU in the 2009-2011 cohort. To this day, Gelfand and Reiman continue to work with the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center.

The entire article from Discover SD can be found online at this link.


Pura Vida Bracelets CEO Griffin Thall brings Costa Rica to San Diego with a charitable twist

September 1st, 2014
Pura Vida

Locale Magazine, a lifestyle publication focused on innovation, culturally aware and forward thinking print and online media, featured Pura Vida Bracelets in September 2014. Pura Vida Bracelets is Both founders of Shake Smart, Kevin Gelfand and Martin Reiman, graduated from San Diego State University. Kevin Gelfand, President of Shake Smart, participated in the Lavin Entrepreneur program during his time at SDSU in the 2009-2011 cohort. To this day, Gelfand and Reiman continue to work with the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center.

The entire article from Discover SD can be found online at this link.


FieldLogix Company Tour

Logo of Seal

This past week students were invited by Yukon Palmer, Founder of FieldLogix, to receive a behind the scenes tour of his company. FieldLogix is a technology based company out of San Diego. They supply GPS fleet tracking services and unparalleled driving intelligence for fleets of vehicles. Their GPS fleet tracking system helps educate drivers, monitor their performance, and reward them when they meet goals.

On October 24, Lavin Entrepreneurs had the opportunity to sit down with Palmer and learn how he built this million dollar company from the ground up.

Yukon Palmer started FieldLogix almost 12 years ago during an SDSU MBA business model competition. The idea was first sketched into a business model canvas and born from there. Following graduation, Palmer decided to pursue the idea by giving himself 6 months to either succeed or fail. After closing the first deal with a rental car company Palmer knew he could make the company a success. Currently he has 10 employees and contracts with multiple services agencies throughout North America. Their goal in the next five years is to reach $5 million in revenue.

Lavin Students were able to ask questions pertaining to the start-up atmosphere Palmer experienced when first establishing his company. Palmer stated it best, that as an entrepreneur you must "believe in yourself and believe in the opportunity" in order to succeed.


2014 Leonard Lavin Event

Logo of Seal

This past week students were invited by Yukon Palmer, Founder of FieldLogix, to receive a behind the scenes tour of his company. FieldLogix is a technology based company out of San Diego. They supply GPS fleet tracking services and unparalleled driving intelligence for fleets of vehicles. Their GPS fleet tracking system helps educate drivers, monitor their performance, and reward them when they meet goals.

On October 24, Lavin Entrepreneurs had the opportunity to sit down with Palmer and learn how he built this million dollar company from the ground up.

Yukon Palmer started FieldLogix almost 12 years ago during an SDSU MBA business model competition. The idea was first sketched into a business model canvas and born from there. Following graduation, Palmer decided to pursue the idea by giving himself 6 months to either succeed or fail. After closing the first deal with a rental car company Palmer knew he could make the company a success. Currently he has 10 employees and contracts with multiple services agencies throughout North America. Their goal in the next five years is to reach $5 million in revenue.

Lavin Students were able to ask questions pertaining to the start-up atmosphere Palmer experienced when first establishing his company. Palmer stated it best, that as an entrepreneur you must "believe in yourself and believe in the opportunity" in order to succeed.


2014 Leonard Lavin Event

hansen program

This year, the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center commemorated Leonard Lavin, the founder of Alberto-Culver Company and the person whom our center is named after. On February 19th, over fifty people came together at the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center to honor Mr. Lavin as a gracious individual and accomplished entrepreneur. People from across the SDSU campus as well as the San Diego business community joined in celebration of Leonard’s lifelong accomplishments, making a positive impact on the lives of so many people. Current Executive Director, Dr. Alex DeNoble, and former Executive Director, Dr. Sandy Ehrlich, spoke of what a difference Leonard Lavin has made on SDSU students as well as anyone who has had the opportunity to work with Mr. Lavin. The Dean of the College of Business, Dr. Gangaram Singh, thanked Mr. Lavin for the inspiration and motivation he has provided to leaders everywhere.

Following a toast, all guests gathered together in anticipation of seeing the art piece designed by graphic designer, Tan Doan. Once the piece was exposed, everyone was in awe of its beauty and creativity. "Winners Make it Happen", the title of Leonard’s book, displayed in bold letters next to Leonard’s portrait. Once the buzz subsided, people gathered together for pictures and networking. Mr. Lavin was genuinely thankful for the efforts that the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center put on in making the event special. He was also able to meet new students in the Lavin Entrepreneur Program that he pioneered. The event was a resounding success.


Forbes All-Star Student Entrepreneurs


Kevin Gelfand and Martin Reiman

As he was leaving the San Diego State University gym one afternoon in July 2010 after his usual weight-training session, Kevin Gelfand realized he was dreading the warm, lumpy protein shake he was planning to drink. "It almost tasted like dirt," he recalls. He decided he would try to concoct a drink that added ingredients like fresh fruit and nonfat milk to the usual whey protein powder to find a blend that tasted good and still packed a protein punch. He turned to fellow gym rat and Sigma Chi fraternity brother Martin Reiman for help.The pair came up with more than 60 different blends and recruited 20 friends to do a taste test before settling on 15 final flavors, including Chocolate Frosty, made with chocolate protein powder, agave nectar, milk and ice, and Perfect Ten, with blueberries, bananas, peanut butter and vanilla protein powder. They raised $50,000 from family and friends to set up a Shake Smart kiosk on campus near the gym, calculating they needed to sell 60 drinks a day to break even.


Instead Shake Smart exploded. Immediately after opening they were selling an average of 120 shakes a day, and within six months they had 12 people on the payroll. Last August they reached an agreement with SDSU to allow freshmen to pay using their meal plan.

This spring Shake Smart opened its second location, in a San Diego mall outside a 24 Hour Fitness gym. The company plans to open a third location by December, and Gelfand projects 2012 revenues of $740,000.

--Edwin Durgy,
Forbes Magazine
By supporting programs that offer feedback, insight, and mentoring to aspiring business leaders, I can give ‑fledgling ventures the best possible chance of success. Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Alberto-Culver
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Building the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

The Lavin Entrepreneurship Center at San Diego State University serves SDSU students, entrepreneurs and business leaders through entrepreneurial curriculum, workshops, internships, resources and events. For information browse the Programs section of our website, subscribe to the Lavin Center Calendar and sign up for the Center's Entrepreneurial Fuel Newsletter. Entrepreneur resources such as the Lavin Center resume guide, marketing and business planning tools and more can be found in the Resources section of our site.

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