Entrepreneurs get mentoring through business center





Chico >> It never hurts to have a good idea get a little air.

That’s the attitude the Center for Entrepreneurship carries, according to Director Peter Straus.

“We want to hear ideas, to see what people are thinking about,” says Straus, who has roots in private enterprise locally before starting with the center at Chico State University’s College of Business.

Over the past few years, the center has had a greater emphasis of spreading the encouragement of entrepreneurship through the different colleges at Chico State, but also reaching out to the community.

It has classes as well as events that encourage entrepreneurship. And it has a track record.

Because there were so many good ideas surfacing, a system to encourage and mentor entrepreneurs has been developed, as well as a class path that can refine ideas into workable concepts and beyond.

For those who want to sit down and talk about their ideas, a good starting place is with Fallon Nevares, administrative support coordinator for the center, in Glenn Hall or 898-4894. The center has a Facebook page along with a website.

The center has also linked with John Mayer, who has a foot in Silicon Valley and is the counselor-in-residence available for mentoring and counseling.

Straus, who has decades in local manufacturing and is known around the business community, has been able to bring in local business owners like Lance Blanshei of Bidwell Perk coffee and David Halimi of Diamond W Western Wear, Diamond Productions, several restaurants, and head of the Downtown Chico Business Association for classes.

Talking about success, Straus described a new app that helps drivers perfect their vehicle hitch alignment for hooking up. Others include a program for scheduling classes, work and events that dozens of colleges use, along with another app that helps with hunting regulations, which vary from region to region.

Available to junior-level students is Management 450, which Straus says is a “gateway class” that has no prerequisites and can help budding entrepreneurs find their way.

Straus points out that some ideas need a little more refining than others, and that’s where the center really stands out.

And it doesn’t have to be just business students. Students from throughout the university are welcome. Straus notes that the center sees entrepreneurial ideas coming from departments and students as diverse as nursing, art, engineering, communications, science and more.


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There are also events like pitch parties and eMonth that can help bring confidence and connect students with local businesses that offer real-world experience. Sponsors or the center step forward with financial prizes and small funding amounts for prototypes.

For eMonth last April, more than a dozen speakers and events focused on ways to help and inspire entrepreneurs. Because many graduates stay close to Chico, experienced business owners are happy to share time and energy encouraging students.

“Freshmen are coming in with more of an entrepreneurial mindset,” said Straus. “We’re willing to help, and we have a robust entrepreneurial program.”

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