iLab to host first three-day startup workshop

Cal Poly Pomona’s aspiring entrepreneurs will learn the ins and outs of business to nurture and grow their innovative ideas this weekend in an intensive three-day workshop.

The workshop, open to students of all majors, will take place from 3 p.m. on Oct. 28 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 30 on campus.

It is free of charge, but students were required to submit an application by Oct. 17 to participate in the weekend workshop.

The three-day startup workshop will provide a bustling, entrepreneurial environment where students of all backgrounds can “create a business model, marketing strategy, minimal prototype and more,” according to the web announcement by the Student Innovation Idea Lab.

“The goal of the iLab is to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem on the Cal Poly Pomona campus to get people to start thinking entrepreneurially, to be actively engaged in creative and innovative solutions regardless of their nature,” said Olukemi Sawyerr, director of the iLab and a management and human resources professor. “This [workshop] is a part of creating that sort of environment on campus.”

(Courtesy of iLab)

Attending students will also have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of successful entrepreneurs.

President of CPP’s Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization and senior transfer student Berlyn Gallardo is looking forward to seeing the products from the three-day workshop.

“It’s really incredible that [the students] are going to be working 72 hours straight to try to create something from nothing, really,” said Gallardo.

The workshop, along with mentoring students about the business process, will also give students the opportunity to network and interact with people of different majors, backgrounds and fields of knowledge.

It is not an event limited just to business students.

“I definitely believe that entrepreneurship is about creating solutions to potential or existing problems in any industry, whether that be medical or fashion or health care or the food industry or the tech industry,” said Gallardo.

The student response to the startup event’s debut has been very positive. Organizers had set a limit of 50 spots for the workshop but were met with 103 applications by the end of the application period, according to Sawyerr.

The three-day event is hosted by the iLab in collaboration with CEO, Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, Pomona’s Chamber of Commerce and the city of Pomona.

A number of other local organizations have pitched in their support for the event by contributing donations and providing food, drinks and snacks for the attendees.

“There are a lot of people involved, not just the iLab,” said Sawyerr. “There’s a lot of support for our students.”

This upcoming workshop has been long-anticipated by the entrepreneurial community on campus.

CEO, founded in 2013, did not have the proper resources to create a startup workshop at the time. Sawyerr noted her concerns about it but couldn’t help much as she was only a faculty member.

Nevertheless, when the iLab was founded in the 2015 fall quarter and Sawyerr was appointed director, the iLab and CEO saw a door of opportunity.

The two organizations collaborated and now strive to improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem at CPP, starting with the debut of this workshop.

The team also collaborated with Western University to promote a networking aspect of the workshop and introduce a mix of students.

Western University student organizer Christina Trabanco, a second-year veterinary medicine student, relishes the networking aspect of the workshop and appreciates how this event will help herself and her peers.

Because Western University is a medical school, Trabanco explained that students don’t always have the resources to learn how to start their own medical practices after they graduate, which had posed a problem for many.

“I think the main benefit from [the workshop] is really just having someone to guide you along that [business] route, especially people who have done it themselves, because a lot of the mentors are entrepreneurs themselves or business managers that we otherwise wouldn’t meet or even talk to,” Trabanco said.

She feels that the workshop could surely be useful for students interested in learning how to patent ideas with medical prosthetics, for example.

Trabanco considers the event a “once in a lifetime opportunity” that should be taken advantage of while students are still in school.

As for the future of the three-day start up, Sawyerr is pleased at the response to this event and hopes that this workshop will become an annual occurrence to help foster a healthy entrepreneurial environment for students.

Gallardo voiced her excitement for the event, as it allows students “to learn how to start a business, network with other students and professionals and have fun, all in one weekend.”

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