Inside USD

Alumni Entrepreneurs to Give Back, Give Advice

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Are you an entrepreneur? Do you have a desire to be your own boss and start a business? Have an idea you think can work but don’t know where to start or who can help you?

Answers to those questions and many more will be readily available by attending the University of San Diego Legacy Entrepreneurship Conference on Thursday, Nov. 14. The event, which features 10 entrepreneurs, many of whom are USD alumni successes, runs from 5:30 to 9 p.m. in the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice Theatre. The event is free to attend, but registration is required. Also, business students in attendance can earn three approved passport program points.

“It’s an intensely interactive evening of coaching and collaboration,” said USD Entrepreneurship Professor Mike Lawless. “Expect to get a valuable experience, mentoring and inspiration from our entrepreneurs and to hear innovative business ideas from our students.”

Introductory remarks from David Pyke, dean of USD’s School of Business Administration, and Lawless, precede talks by MBA alumna Jayla Siciliano ’13 (Bon Affair, pictured, top left) and last spring’s Venture Vetting (V2) competition winner Morgan Schwanke ’13 BA, Art History, (OnMyBlock.com, pictured, bottom far right).

Two panel discussions, featuring many USD alumni, take place next. The first one is titled, “If I Started My Business Today …” while the second one examines “What I Would Tell My 21-Year-Old Self.” These panels, running concurrently, will be held in KIPJ conference rooms E/F, and G, respectively.

The first panel has Jeffery Adler (Dlush), Schwanke, Kristen Buchanan (The Good On Ya Bar), Stephan Aarstol ’99 MBA (Tower Power Boards, “Shark Tank” contestant) and Navid Alipour ’03 JD/MBA (Analytics Ventures and La Costa Investment Group). The second panel features Jason Friend ’98 BA International Relations (Peoples Bank), Siciliano, Gabriel Cabanas ‘88 BA Business Admin. (Viga Consulting Group), Tim Suski ’08 Business Admin. (The Rush Indoor Cycling Studio) and Jody Greene (Chic CEO).

The night concludes with a one-on-one networking opportunity for all students with the panelists in a
“speed-dating” mode. It’s a great chance to ask specific questions and to get personal feedback. This can especially help students who are considering applying for the 2014 $25,000 V2 competition, in which finalists get to pitch their idea to angel investors on April 3.

“As a recent graduate I know how important it is to expand your network and take advantage of the resources that the university provides,” said Regina Bernal ’12, a USD Communication Studies graduate and now entrepreneurship and experiential learning coordinator within USD School of Business Administration. “This event is the perfect opportunity to connect and learn from people who’ve gone out into the real world and faced similar challenges that our students will face when they graduate.”

Schwanke, who last year served as USD Associated Students President and had developed his online real estate business while still in school, looks forward to returning to his alma mater and giving back.

“I’m so excited to be coming back to campus to talk with fellow classmates about entrepreneurship,” he said. “USD provided our company with the perfect launching ground for us to explore our entrepreneurial passions and try some really new things.  Now we’re getting ready to roll out new features and experiences that we believe can really shake up the real estate technology industry. So much of what we’ve been able to accomplish comes back to our roots on campus.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

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