Lavin Entrepreneur Program Alumni
Lavin Startups are Growing Rapidly
Profiled below are a few of the Lavin Entrepreneurs that went through our program at San Diego State University and the companies they created.
Kevin Gelfand, ShakeSmart
As a co-founder of ShakeSmart, Kevin has grown the company from a single university location to more than 13 university locations in four states. He founded the company on the belief that people would want a more natural, sugar-free protein laden shake within 30 minutes of working out. ShakeSmarts are strategically located on college campuses near their recreation and athletic centers.
Brian Kidwell, Scotts Cheap Flights
After college, Brian traveled extensively and worked as a digital nomad utilizing his online marketing skills. Through the course of his travels he stumbled across a “cheap flight alert” blog and turned that blog into a SaaS subscription engine to alert people as to where they could obtain and book cheap flights. The company did more than $6 million in revenue at the end of 2018.
Luke Sophinos, CourseKey
When Luke first arrived at SDSU, he was floored to see that as a freshman and sophomore, he was in lecture classes of over 400 students. He could see students were disengaged. So he set out to build a web and mobile phone based platform that allowed university professors to load teaching material to the web-based platform and then use an app on student’s phones to disseminate and interact with students in real time. CourseKey has raised more than $3 million in funding.
Drew Haines, HoursLogger
As someone who excelled in engineering, Drew made money on the side tutoring other engineering students. However Drew’s true passion was coding, not engineering. He taught himself several programming languages and eventually created HoursLogger, an app that allows individuals and consultants to track their time and ultimately create invoices for clients via QuickBooks.
Matt Decelles, William Painter
While in the Lavin program, Matt completed several internships in sales and marketing. As he and the co-founders looked at what people bought all the time and lost, they started to focus on sunglasses. Eventually, they created and patented, unique, and classic sunglasses, made from titanium, with a lifetime guarantee. Oh, and the frames have a “patented hook” to open bottle caps.
Alex Martinez, Real Estate Skills
While in school, Alex took a paid internship with a real estate company that specialized in “flipping” homes. Within the next two years, Alex learning everything about assessing, purchasing, renovating and selling houses. After a few years of doing this, he created his own company that utilizes live workshops and online course to teach other people how to make money in real estate.
Jack Doheny, Bold Brew
Another engineering major who found another calling, Jack’s Doheny’s curiosity led him to the cold brew coffee at its early stages. Along with a co-founder, they started experimenting with making cold brew coffee in their apartment and sharing it with friends. Then they worked with university to sell it on the campus and farmer’s markets. Today, Bold Brew is in more than 200 retail locations and are also sold on Amazon.
Eric Birkemeier, ShredLights
Eric was a film major who joined the Lavin program wondering if he could take his passion for film into a career. While at SDSU, he took an internship helping out a team in the Zip LaunchPad incubator on campus. That team struggled and eventually abandoned the startup which Eric took over. Today, ShredLights will do more than seven figures in revenue and Eric is innovating additional product uses.
Jon Tucker, HelpFlow
Jon was a very curious and passionate Lavin who learned online marketing early in his college career. Studying ecommerce websites, Jon looked for a way to improve the customer experience. HelpFlow combines website software and live chat to sell niche products to targeted clients. Today, he has over 20 employees and most work remotely.
Nick Slettengren, Power Digital Marketing
Nick was a communications major who arrived at SDSU with several years of work experience. Initially a communication major, Nick took a job working in sales with a digital agency specializing in SEO. This experience sparked an interest in digital marketing, leading Nick to found his own company. Power Digital will do more than $10 million in revenue this year.
Jesse Villanueva, Mercato
A motivated student who wanted to find his direction in entrepreneurship, Jesse utilized every opportunity while at SDSU. Participating in pitch fests, in business plan competitions and getting several internships with entrepreneurs, Jesse found his calling. He created Mercato, a food delivery company that has raised more than $2.5 million in funding.
Sean Dreiling, Restoar
Sean was in the Lavin program and worked his way through several sales internships. However one non-business related issue was his acne-prone skin. Sean had battled acne since he was 12 years old and studied possible solutions relentlessly. That pursuit led to the founding of Restoar, a natural facial toner that has had remarkable success in the treatment of acne. Starting at farmers markets, today you find his products on Amazon and his own website.
Greg Crisi, Tip Network
Greg founded Tip Network, a platform that unravels and automates the process of the $40 billion in tips flowing throughout restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, 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.
Craig Stern, Sunrise Leads
Craig has used his years of working in sales and generating leads in to creating Sunrise Leads, a startup company focused on working with clients to generate more quality leads. The company generates lead campaigns and qualifies them before passing them onto to your sales team. Using a unique blend of backend databases, outbound and inbound campaigns and a system of qualifying leads, Sunrise Leads is a next generation customer acquisition company.
Nick Slettengren, Fixit DMS
Nick’s first company is the successful Power Digital marketing agency which is now one of the fastest growing digital marketing agencies in the country. Taking a private equity investment in Power allowed Nick to step out of this company and start a new one, Fixit DMS. This startup assists consumers in getting back control of their debts in a manageable and legal way.
Jesse Villanueva, Vita RX
Founder Jesse Villanueva made the decision to start the company based on a personal experience with malnutrition. Using supplements to fill in the holes of his diet he felt considerably better in his daily life. Realizing how long it took to seek out doctors and take the necessary tests to figure out what supplements he needed, his goal was to create a company that not only made it easy for people to find out what supplements they could take to achieve their health goals, but also provide the products to them in a way that was easy for them to incorporate into their daily life.
Lucas Forte, Forte Shelter
Forte Shelter is a sustainably focused company that converts standard shipping containers into functional dwellings. Lucas’s company was founded on a desire to build inspirational homes for everyone no matter their income or financial circumstance. Using innovative building techniques and next generation systems, Forte Shelter builds custom homes with a passion.
Monica Jimenez, BloomFile
Monica looked at the problems related to the opening and closing of real estate escrows and decided to create a company that would resolve to make the escrow paperwork easier. She created an online SaaS company and product that would let clients looking for help with the entire escrow process or assistance on a specific task. BloomFile has been created to deliver the highest levels of service in the real-estate industry and remove the pain of starting and tracking all the escrow paperwork.
Parker Harris, Junto Global
Parker created Junto Global which allows ambitious entrepreneurs and professionals to connect with like-minded individuals. Each member is carefully curated to match the group’s needs. Junto follows a proven formula to help people reach their goals, pioneered by Benjamin Franklin – the founder of the first Junto. Parker has created a safe space for driven, intelligent, and good-hearted people to regularly get together, brainstorm, and grow. His goal is for entrepreneurs to be even more successful when surrounded with energetic, talented, and authentic members of Junto global.