Do you think you could start to build a clean tech business in 60 minutes? We challenged students to do just that at an event we had this week kicking off Global Entrepreneurship Week at CSU Sacramento with the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Dozens of campus-wide GEW events were led by the Carlsen Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In collaboration with Dean Lorenzo Smith, CleanStart created a “learning journey” through an entrepreneurship introduction and training exercise. We titled the event “So you want to be an Entrepreneur?” We challenged students to turn their ideas into a business, coaching them on the elements of the Business Model Canvas.
Luring students with free food, we asked them to share what ideas they had to promote sustainability and the product solutions they thought customers would like. Students placed their ideas on an Idea Wall, then with a coach followed went from station to station to flesh out their ideas and to build a startup. The coaches introduced them to actual entrepreneurs in the energy field, such as Al Rich of ACR Solar (link to blog). Then students got to talk with some actual investors to find out what they needed to be interested in putting money into a venture. Next Dan Casas-Murray introduced them to the Business Model Canvas and how to use it to develop a complete startup plan. At the last stop, we invited them to pitch their ideas in front of a camera. We shared those real-time and will have them loaded up soon.
Cameron Law, Executive Director of the Carlsen Center, showed up with Dale Carlsen himself and they both shared resources available to students on campus. Mr. Carlsen generously gave his time to act as one of the potential investors students could quiz. CleanStart also made sure students left with a packet of information in had so they could follow up on their ideas.
Consistent with the theme of Global Entrepreneurship Week, the “learning journey” was intended to stimulate student curiosity about a career as an entrepreneur or as a part of a startup team. We tried to make it fun and engaging. If all we did was make students understand what creating a business was like and want to know more, then we accomplished our mission. Overall, GEW was a huge success for CleanStart and Sac State, especially since the Carlsen Center received a donation of $1,000,000 from Western Health Advantage to continue to build its programs.
Look for updates with more student videos soon!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Thomas is the Executive Director of CleanStart. Thomas has a strong background in supporting small businesses, leadership, financial management and is proficient in working with nonprofits. He has a BS in Finance and a BA in Economics from California State University, Chico. Thomas has a passion for sustainability and a commitment to supporting non-profits in the region.