CSUF News Service
Campus Start-up Incubator Helps Students Succeed
Oct. 19, 2015
Kevin Carr has a vision: "Imagine a world without unwanted telemarketing calls and emails."
While attending Cal State Fullerton, he developed the vision into a plan. And today, my contact™, is in early stage development. "We restore individuals' privacy by rendering their contact information useless to telemarketers and email spammers," explains the Class of '98 business alumnus.
Carr's budding business is one of 12 start-ups with multiple student/alumni founders launching their companies in the business incubator operated by the University's Center for Entrepreneurship in Placentia.
The incubator is "an extension of what we do in the classroom," says John Bradley Jackson, center director. "The goal is to commercialize resident start-ups within 180 days by aggressively challenging them to 'succeed quickly or fail fast.'"
"It's easy to write down an idea on a napkin, but making it real is a whole different story. Working with the incubator keeps me focused on my goal," says Carr. "Everyone at the incubator is at different stages in their projects, so it gives us an opportunity to learn together and from those who have been working on their project for a while."
As part of the incubator residency, participants are offered assistance for business model validation, customer identification, formation as a legal entity, business plan revision and determination of necessary funding.
"After being accepted into the CSUF Start-up Incubator, I was assigned a mentor," explains Carr. "We meet weekly to go over the project and follow a plan that will help bring the idea to fruition.
"The best part about the incubator is the weekly feedback that I get from my mentor. Having a mentor gives me an opportunity to learn from someone, one- on-one, who has experience with start-ups while giving me an ‘outside-looking- in’ perspective," he says. "And, my mentor helps to hold me accountable so I am more likely to complete the research, stay focused on the goal and move the project forward."
Buzz Walker is Carr's mentor and managing partner of Cognitive Impact, a brand development and PR agency in Fullerton. "With 30 years of experience, I know not only what they should be doing, but also what they can avoid," says Walker. "The entrepreneurs still do all the work, but with a mentor’s guidance, they don’t have to go down so many paths to do what they need to do."
Walker became a mentor to "give back. I get a lot of joy and satisfaction from watching the entrepreneur take his idea from concept and see it change and develop in two months, six months." He believes that having a mentor increases the probability of success for the businesses — and for the mentor, "it keeps my innovative juices flowing."
"My goal is to use the incubator to help launch my service, so it has a much better chance at success," adds Carr. To help gain traction, Carr is creating what is called a minimum viable product, or proof of concept. "It will help gain traction and prove there is a need for my service. In my case, many people are already preordering my service so I have a pretty good idea that people want it."
For more information about the Center for Entrepreneurship and the incubator, call 657-278-3464 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.