In January 2015, California State University Fullerton (CSUF) opened the CSUF Startup Incubator in Placentia. As the Entrepreneur in Residence, I have the pleasure of working with our startups firsthand while growing the Incubator as a startup itself. For those who haven’t heard yet, the CSUF Startup Incubator is looking to take highly scalable, early stage startups with innovative business models to their next phase within their 6 months of residency. Once accepted, residents are assigned a mentor and together we develop a custom road map, making sure we provide excellent value and services to our residents. The mentors are usually veteran entrepreneurs who have had experience in raising capital and selling off their business, which is the ultimate goal for our Incubator. The best parts of what makes the CSUF Incubator an excellent choice will become obvious soon, but first it is important to understand why and how CSUF does this.
The College of Business and Economics is home to the nation’s second largest undergraduate enrollment in business, according to the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business. CSUF is the largest school in Orange County by student body population and the graduate program in Information Technology is ranked No. 5 nationally by U.S. News and World Report. These are some impressive statistics that make having an Incubator the next logical step for the school’s top quality graduates. While stats are not enough, the culture at CSUF is ripe and forward thinking; most professors I spoke with wanted to get involved and they also encouraged their current students to apply.
Outlining these impressive credentials is important for understanding the big value proposition – Incubator residents are able to leverage the University’s resources. That means world-class student consulting teams can be utilized to do market research, the mechanical engineering lab space and 3D printers can be used to make prototypes, and some of the brightest University professors are either mentoring or overseeing the process. Our Incubator is led by Professor John Jackson, Director for Center for Entrepreneurship and the Small Business Institute at CSUF. In addition to being a 13 year Professor of Entrepreneurship, he is a veteran entrepreneur himself with several years of industry experience from Silicon Valley. Delivering his presentation on Business Plans at the Incubator in an intimate setting was definitely a great value for our residents; however, the teaching doesn’t stop there. Every week we have guest speakers come down and talk to our residents – from Business Attorneys to Angel Investors and Bankers, we are doing everything we can to give our residents the best preparation for success.
As a former Electrical Engineer who has over 10 years of Aerospace and Defense experience and an MBA from CSUF, I really enjoy cultivating the startup environment because it brings out a burning passion in the entrepreneur to create a business from just a simple idea. Now that we have all the elements aligned for success, I am excited to create a culture of inclusion where the best ideas can be fostered and developed. Since we are an after-hours Incubator versus a traditional Incubator (meaning our residents still can work on their startup business while keeping their day job), we are going to be creating a fun atmosphere where creativity can thrive. Stay tuned for night time activities that will attract talented students to both help our residents and come up with their own ideas through our stimulating environment. I can’t disclose our future plans just yet, but I can tell you we are making the Incubator a place I would love to be a part of as an entrepreneur and you should come down to check it out for yourself, it’s guaranteed to be a stimulating experience!