Inspiring Young Entrepreneurs to Think Global, Launch Local
by Marianne Skoczek
Undergraduates with a hunger to launch their own businesses got a taste of the dynamic world of innovative startups through Think Global, Launch Local (TGLL), a multifaceted initiative that launched last spring with a speakers series and internship program.
In the UC Davis spirit of collaboration, TGLL draws on the expertise and involvement of the Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Davis Honors Challenge program, the ASUCD Entrepreneurship Fund, the UC Davis Internship and Career Center, and Davis Roots, a university-city collaborative to support local startups.
It’s a gateway for undergraduates from diverse academic majors who want to experience entrepreneurship. The program is the brainchild of Edris Bemanian, who graduated with a BS in economics and environmental science from UC Davis last spring and is now business development manager at local startups ShoppingScout and Engage3.
“I have always been interested in business and, specifically, entrepreneurship,” Bemanian explains. Although he was able to secure an internship with a downtown Davis-based startup his first year at the university, his other jobs and internships were with established companies that operate in a very different business world.
“I felt the opportunities for undergraduates to gain the kind of exposure and experience I desired was limited, and I wanted to change that,” he says.
For his senior project, Bemanian collaborated with fellow honors program students Rosie Dale, Kathryn Rose and Eleanor Yu to create TGLL. Professor Andrew Hargadon, the Institute’s faculty director, mentored and advised the group.
“Professor Hargadon was very enthusiastic and wholly supported us in our efforts, from crafting the curriculum to reaching out to entrepreneurs to help organize the speaker series,” Bemanian says.
Innovation in the Real World
A related TGLL internship program offered eight undergraduate entrepreneurs the opportunity to work with local startups under the guidance of mentors. This year TGLL is working with the Institute, ASUCD’s E-Fund and the university’s Internship and Career Center to expand the program.
“I learned about the importance of flexibility,” said Trevor Fleshman, an international relations major at UC Davis who landed an internship at Ruhstaller Beer, a young, up-and-coming microbrewery founded by alumnus J-E Paino MBA 09. “One day I was on the field and the next I was in the office. J-E was great and was 100 percent into it.”
TGLL dovetailed perfectly with the Institute’s commitment to expand is programs beyond graduate students and researchers. The inaugural Undergrad Entrepreneurship Workshop in May drew 40 students eager to immerse themselves in innovation, elevator pitches and more.
By the workshop’s end, 30 of the students pledged to move forward with their idea—and many planned to get involved in the Big Bang! Business Competition, UC Entrepreneurship Academy, E-Fund or Sustainable AgTech Seed Grant program.
TTGL Speaker Series
The spring 2013 TGLL speaker series featured successful entrepreneurs, many alumni of UC Davis, the Graduate School of Management or Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship programs. The series was sponsored by Five Star Bank.
“Tim Keller was exceptional. His early struggles and hardships opened my eyes to the realities of being an entrepreneur—but his dedication and work ethic have shown me that it is possible to find success.”
—Kevin Johnson, Undergraduate Communications Major, Sacramento State, on the Think Global, Launch Local speaker series
• John Bissell BS 08| Micromidas
• Michael Clayton | Trace & Trust
• Professor Andrew Hargadon | Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
• Tim Keller MBA 08 | VinPerfect
• J-E Paino MBA 09 | Ruhstaller Beer
• Graham Ryland BS 05, MS 09 | Barobo Inc.
• Chris Soderquist MBA 98 | Octus Energy