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Saturday, January 20th 2018

The L. Robert Payne Lecture Series

Bringing Outstanding Entrepreneurs to SDSU

Tony Hawk in L. Robert Payne Lecture Series

Rober Payne Series Video This year as part of the L. Robert Payne Lecture Series we were able to have world renowned skateboarder Tony Hawk come and talk to over 500 students at SDSU. Professional Skateboarder is not the only title that Tony Hawk holds. Aside from being a professional skateboarder, Hawk is a fellow entrepreneur and philanthropist. Hawk started his skating at the age of 9 when his brother handed him his used skateboard and turned pro by the age of 14. From then, his fame quickly spread and by the age of 25 he had competed in 103 Pro contests, winning 73 of those and being 2nd in 19 of those contests. However in 1991 the skateboarding hype had fallen drastically and Hawk was left with little to no revenue.

Channeling his inner entrepreneurial insight Hawk refinanced his home and opened up his first company, Birdhouse Projects with a fellow pro skateboarder. Things were a little rocky at first but soon after the skateboard industry started booming again. After his skateboard company, Hawk also opened up a children’s skate clothing company, Hawk Clothing in 1998 and in 1999 he teamed up with Activation to create the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Video Games Franchise. Aside from his businesses, Hawk has also donated a significant amount of money to his foundation, Tony Hawk Foundation in which it funds skatepark projects throughout the USA.

More about Birdhouse Projects and the Tony Hawk Foundation

The Birdhouse Projects was started in 1992 with the little money Tony Hawk had left after the skateboard industry was imploding. It was founded under the belief that you if you love something, you support it and nurture it, hence the name Birdhouse. Since then the company has grown and continued to prosper with an amazing team behind the company. 24 years later and the company is continuing to come out with new products and features a lot of well known artists in the action sports marketplace. Hawk started the Tony Hawk Foundation when he realized that there were not of public skateparks available and wanted to help develop places that could allow these kids to practice the sport and exercise. The Foundation supports many grants and activities that are designed to create public skateparks in low income communities. The grant has opened over 500 skateparks around low income communties.

Tony Hawk joins a significant line of past lecturers which include:

  • John Wilson, Co-founder of Stance
  • Kurt Listug, CEO of Taylor Guitars
  • Thom McElroy, Co-founder of Volcom
  • Jeff Church, Co-founder of NIKA water
  • Jim Sinegal, Co-Founder and CEO of Costco
  • Tina Nova, Co-Founder, President, CEO and Director of Genoptix, Inc
  • Norm Brinker, former Chairman of Brinker International
  • John Moores, Founder of Peregrine Systems & Chairman of the Padres
  • John Sarkisian, Co-Founder, Pat & Oscar's Restaurants
  • Dr. Irwin Jacobs, Chairman & CEO of QUALCOMM
  • Robert J. Nugent, former Chairman & CEO of Jack in the Box
  • Russell Lewis, Founder and CEO of Rhino Linings
  • Dr. Robert Beyster, Founder of SAIC
  • Ron Fowler, Chairman and CEO of Liquid Investments, Inc.


For more information, please contact:
Kathryn Boyles at

Competition makes you stronger. If our top competitor didn't exist, we would have to make them up.
~ Jim Sinegal, SDSU'59

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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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