California State University, Fullerton

Alumni Success Story: Steve Schoenhals '12

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Two years ago, I packed up as many belongings as I could fit into my car and drove from Michigan to California for the purpose of finishing my education at CSUF. My plan was to learn as much as I could at CSUF while also starting a company on the side. About half-way through my first semester, I joined my colleague, Chris Brockman, and together we co-founded GamerComps.com. GamerComps.com was to be a gaming network that would enable mobile gamers to compete in tournaments for prizes. We believed in our business idea, but only had a general understanding of the necessary steps to bring it to market.

We decided to take the ‘normal’ route: write a business plan, and then use it to find funding. We did our best and created a plan that we believed would attract investors. When the plan was ready, it was time to inform investors of our amazing business idea and then sit back and let the money flow in. We called and applied to almost every angel, venture capitalist, and private equity group we could find on the West Coast. After two weeks of efforts, we had not received a single response. Three long weeks later we received a call from an investment group who was interested in our concept. This was finally our big break! We met with them and gave what we felt was a great presentation, but the very next day we received a call informing us that they had decided to pass.

We remained optimistic, thinking that our last meeting was only one of many chances to come. After waiting another month or two, there were no more calls, there were no more chances. At this point, Chris and I had used up all the contacts at our disposal; we were dead in the water. As hard as it was at this point, I knew what we had was special and there was no way I was going to give up. I had one last place in mind that could be of help, the CSUF Center For Entrepreneurship.

I grabbed my business plan and headed to the CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship on a mission to find a way to get GamerComps.com off the ground and running. I still remember my first talk with John Jackson, the Center’s Director. I was hungry to succeed, and after months of failure, I was not going to let our meeting be another loss. I explained my concept, past losses, and asked if he could help. I could tell John understood how special our concept was and that he saw the fire in my eyes. John was kind enough to begin mentoring me while also introducing me to the faculty involved at the CSUF Center For Entrepreneurship.

Getting involved with the Center For Entrepreneurship was exactly what I needed. The faculty there are very knowledgeable, experienced, and took the time personally to help me better prepare my business. I learned everything from how to best protect my intellectual property to improving my business plan and much more. Most importantly, the center was a safe place to share ideas and receive very knowledgeable feedback.

After a few months of mentorship, John connected me with Michael Sawitz, who was then starting a new business incubator called Fast.Start.studio in Orange County. Michael informed me that he was offering a scholarship through CSUF for a free year at his new incubator; I immediately applied. I met with Michael on a few occasions to discuss my business and the progress I had made. After a few weeks of agonizing waiting, Michael informed me that I was the recipient of the first annual scholarship to Fast.Start.studio worth over 55k.

As a resident of Fast Start Studio, Michael has provided me with amazing services, workshops, and has opened a tremendous amount of doors. The mentors and advisors at the incubator are incredibly experienced, connected, and helpful as well. Since joining Fast Start Studio, GamerComps.com has now teamed up with three established mobile gaming publishers, our user-base is growing rapidly, and the site is quickly moving down the path to success. If it were not for the base of knowledge I received from the CSUF Center of Entrepreneurship, and the incredible backing of both CSUF and Fast Start Studio, GamerComps.com would not be where it is today!

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