Posts Tagged ‘Entrepreneurship’

Idea to IPO Start Up Fair at Cogswell College June 5

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

We hope you will join us. Please RSVP to the Meetup.

Problem Solving at the Heart of Entrepreneurship

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Are you one of those people who has trouble getting up in the morning? Do you hit the snooze button a couple of times or turn off the alarm without getting up?

So did entrepreneur Dave Hawkins, inventor of the Wayki toothbrush and alarm clock.

Identifying a need and finding a way to fill that need is perhaps the single biggest factor in determining whether a business venture succeeds or fails. Creativity is not only essential in writing and art; it’s a way of thinking outside the box. Creative problem-solving is the cornerstone of the entrepreneurial spirit.

The Wayki alarm and toothbrush meets two needs: getting up on time and good oral hygiene in a creative way.

Like many people, Hawkins found that he had trouble getting up in the morning. He’d hit the snooze button multiple times or turned off the alarm, then would turn over and go back to sleep. He’d wake up and have to get out the door in a hurry and realized that oral hygiene was sacrificed.

Of course, Hawkins is not alone. So he set out to solve those problems with one product.

The alarm clock is kept in the bedroom, but the Wayki doesn’t have a snooze button, eliminating the habit of hitting the snooze for 10 extra minutes. In order to get you moving, the alarm shut off is in the bathroom and takes the form of a toothbrush. It is inserted into the Wayki base then a clock appears that is automatically set for two minutes.

A true multitasker, the Wayki in effect eliminates two problems by combining two common products in an interesting way. Although still in the development stages and seeking investment through crowd-sourcing, the Wayki is already generating some buzz in tech circles and media.

Cogswell Student Attends San Francisco Writers Conference

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Cogswell College student, Aaron Miner, recently received the 2013 Smokler Scholarship award to attend the San Francisco Writers Conference from February 14-17. Following are his reflections on the first session he attended:


The sun warmed the bright, long room as I seated myself for my first panel at the San Francisco Writing Conference. The conference comprises four days of presentations, workshops, keynotes, consultations and exhibitions for authors, agents, and publishers. I arrived early for this first panel—the one slated to begin at nine in the morning. Its title was: “How to Turn Your Book Into a Movie.”

I introduced myself to the several women who also sat in the front row. Among them was a nonfiction author from out of state, who was writing a memoir about her grandmother. She reacted with curiosity when I mentioned my studies at Cogswell. She expressed an especial concern about how studios might alter the scripts they purchased against their author’s intentions.

As the matter was one I had given much thought, I happily shared what I knew. What I saw as the film industry’s tendency to shoehorn stories into ill-fitting, but marketable, packages was what led me to entrepreneurship in the first place. As a child, my love of books and movies developed into a passion for writing, and later I also developed an interest in animated filmmaking.

Founding my own studio was the plan from the start. I have a strong independent streak, and I balked at the notion of altering my story to make it more saleable to an executive. With my own studio, even if the market demanded a compromise between art and business, I could at least decide the best compromise for myself. When I transferred out of De Anza College’s animation program, I chose Cogswell College over San Jose State because Cogswell taught entrepreneurship alongside digital media.

Though my interests in fiction, filmmaking and entrepreneurship complement one another, I have always struggled with their seemingly disparate natures. At times, they seem like two vocations too many for a single lifespan. The question of how to integrate them into a whole, and avoid burnout, tortured me for a long time.

Soon, our panelist arrived: a producer and manager who works out of Hollywood. Her trade involves adapting novels into television shows and pitching them to the networks. “Everyone is looking for a built-in audience,” she said towards the middle of her talk. There is a market for adaptations, as well as the ubiquitous sequels and prequels, because their renown guarantees a turnout. The expense involved in filmmaking also requires that this be a mass audience. Such expenses have all but eliminated the independent film studios. Our speaker regretted this fact, because she believes that some less popular perspectives deserve a hearing.

The epiphany washed over me like a wave. It was an obvious epiphany, but an epiphany nonetheless. We live at a time where telling a story across multiple media is a matter of course. Novelists want films to promote their novels, and film studios want novels to promote their films. The economics of the old industry demands high budgets and cultivates a tyranny of the mainstream. However, producers, creators and audiences alike find themselves disgruntled by this fact. Furthermore, as the panelist herself mentioned, the development of new distribution methods via the Internet clears the way for a myriad of voices to find their niche. Being an author, filmmaker and entrepreneur in this day and age suddenly seemed appropriate.

As our technology advances, and our culture evolves with it, I expect the boundaries between professions will undergo immense shifts. The media industries in particular will feel the effects. In recounting her tales of shopping series based on her clients’ books, our panelist described a convoluted industry, stuffed with middlemen. Now that any filmmaker can distribute their work with a click and a tweet, we may have no more need of these intermediaries. I look forward to seeing the kind of world that emerges when the dust settles, and the transformation is complete.

The panel ended at fifteen minutes to three. I introduced myself to our speaker afterwards and shook her hand before hurrying off to the next event downstairs. The San Francisco Writer’s Conference was just beginning.

Aaron M. Miner is a writer, filmmaker and entrepreneur attending Cogswell College. In 2012, he founded Studio Kenaz–an independent animation company–and produced a video for Murs and Josh Blaylock, which was featured at that year’s San Diego Comic Con. He is presently revising his first novel, and maintains a blog at

Innovation is a Way of Life

Friday, February 15th, 2013

The Harvard Business Review posed the following question:  How do we make innovation more of a natural act and less of a happy accident?

In response to their “Innovating Innovation Challenge,” more than 140 top Entrepreneurs responded with case studies about how they kept innovation alive and well within their organization.

The article provides links to the 24 finalists insights and covers topics like, “Keeping the Start-up Spirit Alive at Red Gate,” “Fail Forward,” “Unleashing Inclusive Innovation at Cisco” and “Innotribe – a tribe of innovators in the financial industry.”

Read these stories.

How can these examples help you?

Year Up with Cogswell Entrepreneurship

Monday, April 9th, 2012

On Friday March 23rd the Entrepreneurship Program was asked to visit Year Up, an organization dedicated to closing the “Opportunity Divide” by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education. The students that are enrolled into the program participate in classes that prepare them for jobs in IT, managerial, and technology-based positions.  YearUp asked entrepreneurship instructor Bret Sweet to speak on his career past, present, and future and provide perspective to the current YearUp classes. YearUp has been around since 2000, originating in Boston acquiring 22 students their first  year. By 2002 the first internships organized by the program start to form and the first graduating class walked out into the world in 2004. From then on, expansion led to sites appearing in Rhode Island, New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco.

The YearUp SF campus was located in a brick building on Spear Street in San Francisco; the lobby hosted a very bright blue wall with a very kind greeting staff. Bret was no stranger to Year Up since he had gone to business school with the host of the speaking event. Praise awaited him around every corner and he had received a round of applause with his entrance into the event room. As per the usual charisma that Mr. Sweet gives at all of his talks, it was no surprise that students were left almost speechless. You could see the different emotions and lessons that Bret was presenting to the young adults in their faces with his stories of hardships, early ventures into entrepreneurship, and even family troubles. To say it was an inspiring motivational talk would be an understatement. Almost immediately after the talk, the room filled with questions for Bret about if he had advice for creating a successful business, what milestones they should aim for, and questions for his student ambassador about Cogswell. Needless to say it was quite the experience for everyone.

After his talk, Bret stayed behind to experience what YearUp calls their Feedback Session where all the students and teachers take a moment to reflect on the positive events and the areas for improvement that week so they can all improve personally and professionally. This  involved every person in the room and required input from each person in order to be effective.  In YearUp’s eyes, total immersion gives the best result.  Before Bret’s departure, the students begged for his contact information so they could ask him for advice at any time and Bret being the kind man he is gave everyone a way to reach him easily.

The Entrepreneurship Department here at Cogswell would like to thank Year Up for having us at their campus and hope that they come visit us sometime in the near future!

Bret Sweet for Cogswell Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship 101 – Identifying market opportunities

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Remain permanently oberservant

Entrepreneurs are not born, they are trained. We all have a shot at success and fame and it all starts with one ever-persistent thought, “I want to make my own business.” In order to do so, you must find an opportunity to provide a product or service to the public that is either unique, slightly better than the competition, or less expensive than the competition. This is how you do it…

Catching the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Friday, March 25th, 2011

If you missed it this morning, we were the host of Founders Space in the Silicon Valley. There were around 30 founders from different industries with companies who wanted advice for early stage to late stage ventures. Among the crowd were several of our entrepreneurship students, all actively taking part in the discussions. The three panelists briefly talked about their investment background, but the topic quickly became what they look for in when investing in a company. Don Reinke, Peter Craddock, and Andy Bartley all gave excellent advice about taking money from angels and vcs, how to become investment ready, and as a treat, their opinions on the future of some industries. After every point from the panel the room was a hypnotic synchronization of head nods.

Even though this event was groundbreaking for our new Entrepreneurship program at Cogswell, it will definitely not be the last of its kind. Staying true to the world of entrepreneurship, we are letting our students get their hands dirty and become immersed into the Silicon Valley culture. Trish Costello, the mastermind behind this innovative degree,  created the program to produce not just world-ready entrepreneurs, but also fully established ventures.

Cogswell has become a mecca of creativity and innovation. Collaboration is innate for our students and the outcome of which will set us en par with the world’s top business schools. We truly are entrepreneurs at heart, n’est pas?

Top Entrepreneur, Doug Mellinger, Speaks at Cogswell College

Friday, October 8th, 2010


Doug Mellinger began his entrepreneurial career at age 13 when he started a lawn mowing service. Never one to think small, his business quickly grew to encompass a small army of neighborhood youngsters as employees. A few years later he purchased a broken soda machine, fixed it, installed it at a local swimming club and found himself in the concessions business.

Mellinger describes an entrepreneur as someone who will do anything they have to do to keep from getting a real job.

The soul of an entrepreneur requires that you open your eyes and your mind to the possibilities around you and break away from preconceived notions of what ‘should be’ and laser in on what is. What product or service are people willing to part with their hard earned cash to get? When you answer that question, then you could be on your way to a successful business. Of course, it needs to be the right product or service, in the right place and at the right time.

He learned this lesson the hard way. In college he and a buddy noticed that boxer shorts were the ‘must have’ wardrobe item and they decided they could make a killing selling them at spring break in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. They created an impeccable business plan and developed a design so extraordinary it was sure to fly off the shelves. Fate unfortunately had not read their business plan. (more…)

Cogswell College Announces Entrepreneurship Bachelor Degree Program

Friday, July 9th, 2010


Innovate, Creative, Self-Starters with Fresh Ideas Get Hands-on Educational Opportunity

Cogswell Polytechnical College looks forward to welcoming students who have a zest for thinking-outside-the box, an ability to recognize new trends, and a desire to take your pioneering ideas to the next level. If this description sounds like you, then now is the time to act. Classes begin in August with the Fall 2010 term pending final WASC approval.

Cogswell’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Bachelor of Arts Degree Program focuses on creating an immersive, hands-on educational environment that offers students an inter-disciplinary and collaborative approach for creating new ventures. Rather than engrossing themselves in theory, students at Cogswell College get to roll up their sleeves and get to work on creating a viable plan for their own enterprise. Students are also given the option of specializing in the area of digital media.

The program is designed to challenge students – from a one semester required internship, to entrepreneur forums, a speakers’ series that utilizes the expertise of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, local business mentors and the opportunity to incubate your venture. The faculty leading this program are experienced entrepreneurs, ready to pass on their hard-won knowledge. The program is especially suited to students who are geared toward team learning, have good interpersonal skills, are strategic thinkers, are comfortable with ambiguity and are able to benefit from a deep, actionable and practice-based education in entrepreneurship.

For those specializing in Digital Media, they should be passionate about digital gaming, sound or animation but also eager to understand the business principles underlying the industry. The ideal student for the Entrepreneurship and Innovation program will not only be a leader and committed to creating a new path but values the need to learn organizational skills, strategic planning and financial acumen in order to succeed.

If you are a Product Manager in an innovative company, want to launch your own start-up or are in Sales, Marketing or Business Development, then this is the program for you. Visit Cogswell College’s website to learn more.

-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement