Written by The Business Journal Staff
Some businesses presented have already been established, like Empyrean Body Essentials, an online bath and body products company, Fresh Designs, which provides graphic design services, and two businesses, Kimora Guitar Repair and Turner’s Mobile Guitar Setups, offering guitar cleaning and repair. Other businesses like Majestic Air, which would offer helicopter tours, and ParkMe, an app that would help college students find parking on campus, were still in need of capital investment and development before they could take off.
Instructor Matthew Alanis said the business projects and demo day are part of his Intro to Entrepreneurship class.
“It’s designed for student entrepreneurs who just want to learn a little bit more about what it means to be an entrepreneur. Or maybe they want to be an entrepreneur, or they don’t understand what it is and they want the blinders removed. This is the capstone project for the class,” Alanis said. “What they have to do beforehand is select a business product or service idea and we have a series of projects in the class from a feasibility study to a business model to an elevator pitch, so basically what we ask them to do is research and quantifiably prove or disprove their idea.
“We want to get them away from making that kind of gut intuition decision and look at data and customer feedback to see if they are really going to build this thing before they actually create it. That is the goal.”
For demo day, each student entrepreneurs was given a table as a blank canvas for them to display and portray their business however they saw fit.
“They have complete control over how they market their product or service and they choose everything from the color of the table runner to the logo they design, to the business cards and the brochures,” Alanis said. “Instead of teaching them ‘this is what good marketing looks like,’ we have them practice executing those skills and then they have to interact with judges and the public, fielding questions and responding.”
Tanveer Gill, a computer science major, kept the display for business, ParkMe, simple, relying on his elevator pitch for the app that offers a solution to parking problems on university campuses. “If you’ve ever tried to park at Fresno State, it’s an absolute madhouse,” Gill said. “Right now they have 25,000 registered students and only 8,000 available parking spaces and, typical of a university, there are always 12,000 to 15,000 students on campus so you can see there may be one spot for every two students during peak hours. My app uses a schedule based matching algorithm that would allow students who are arriving to take those spots from student entrepreneurs who are departing right away.”
At the next table, business management major Stephanie Dahlin used all the space to showcase her handmade, all-natural bath and beauty products, sold online under the name Empyrean Body Essentials.
“This is my second prototype,” Dahlin said of the body scrubs on display. “I made 10 the first time and they sold out in a couple weeks. I sell everything online to save costs because having a storefront is expensive, plus everything is shifting to online anyway. One day I hope to feature other peoples’ handmade products and sort of be the Etsy of bath and body products.”
Clovis Chamber of Commerce CEO Mark Blackney said he was impressed with the businesses student entrepreneurs presented.
“These businesses are very creative and a couple of them are very viable,” Blackney said. “I’m impressed that for some this wasn’t just a project for a class only to be forgotten, instead a couple of them are really serious about getting out there and creating and expanding their business. As the CEO of the Clovis Chamber, I’m very much interested in building and retaining commerce in our community and encouraging businesses to stay. I’m impressed with a couple of these ideas and hope they grow and develop.”