With the opening of the Westlake Center for Entrepreneurship, California Lutheran University continues to show interest in the business futures of this generation.
Conejo Valley, in partnership with Cal Lutheran and powered by Up Global, worked last week to put on startup week, participating in a global initiative to foster up and coming entrepreneurs in the community.
“Startup week is a five-day celebration of entrepreneurship and startups, so how we celebrate them is putting on awesome free events that people can attend throughout the week,” Greg Monterrosa, community program manager at Cal Lutheran University Center for Entrepreneurship said.
In addition, due to its success last May, Cal Lutheran will be involved in the upcoming program Startup Weekend March 11-13 in Camarillo. Monterrosa said that through this program, community members and students must develop and pitch a company in just three days. Cal Lutheran students took first place.
Some of the business events at Startup Week included TEDx Talks live streamed from Vancouver, Canada. Some of the panels included venture capitalists, technology workshops and startup demos.
“There are 20 events going on in the Conejo Valley,” Mike Panesis, executive director at the Cal Lutheran Center for Entrepreneurship said.
Some of the events, such as TEDxConejoLive, give students the ability to think about issues beyond their community and get the wheels turning for startup ideas.
“Entrepreneurs tend to like to come and sit and let their minds wander and listen to an interesting speaker, and that leads to the startup ideas,” Panesis said. “These TED Talks give you an opportunity to think about bigger issues than just this community. It’s good to listen to those talks and just let your mind wander.”
Each event is geared toward helping students succeed in the business world, whether it is preparing a business plan, streaming a conference or even working with partners. To Daniel Ball, program manager at Cal Lutheran Center for Entrepreneurship, programs like these have been becoming increasingly popular.
“This is one of the first times startup week has been done in a community like this one, which shows that there is demand for this type of thing,” Ball said. “Startup week is a part of a global initiative to foster entrepreneurship in communities big and small. It is done in hundreds of cities all around the world every year.”
Alon Goren, Co-Founder and CEO of the crowdfunding company Invested.in, has spent time moderating many of the business events. He coordinated the 805 Startup Demo day Feb. 11 in which groups of students and community members pitched their companies to investors.
“We just want to give the companies access to investors everywhere else,” Goren said. “The startup world is like something that all of these companies and everyone in the area wants to be a part of. What CLU is doing is giving them access to it.”
To Goren, the entire program leads to not only business success for one individual, but also cash flow, commerce and job creation to be kept here in the county. Through programs like these, it is easier to find investors willing to fund a company, mentors to assist and partners to work alongside. More companies have a chance of being discovered and going global.
“It’s never been easy to launch an international company from one room with two people, but now it is,” Goren said.
The Cal Lutheran Westlake Center has been the hub for most of the startup week events and a base of entrepreneurial operations. It has become a focal point for business students.
“The idea behind Westlake center is to be a place for entrepreneurs,” Panesis said. “We provide the place.”
The center is open almost 24 hours a day and gives students a quiet place to work surrounded by like-minded individuals.
“Our goal is to be the hub for entrepreneurship with the university. Students can come here, work on their startups here, gain access to mentors that are working,” Monterrosa said. “[Students] don’t have to be here, they’re here because they want to be. That’s really nice, the energy that brings.”
According to Ball, students should feel a sense of pride in knowing Cal Lutheran is investing in them and their futures by creating ongoing business programs like startup week. With the Westlake Center, students now have all business events in one easily accessible place.
“It will give them awareness that there are options out there for them to pursue their creativity and their dreams besides the typical corporate job,” Ball said. “What we are trying to do here is develop an ecosystem where people can find like-minded individuals to start a project, or solve a problem or to just do something outside the box.”
Ball worked to coordinate a startup week May 2015. Due to the program’s success, Cal Lutheran will again be involved in the upcoming program.
published February 24th, 2016