From fishing rod business to mail-sorting company, Mihaylo alumni are busy developing innovative business concepts throughout Southern California and beyond.
Imagine a company that enables individual and corporate customers to manage their snail mail from their computers. Or a nonprofit that connects volunteers with opportunities to do good in the community. These are just some of the business models developed by Mihaylo alumni.
Following are 10 alumni-owned enterprises making an impact in Southern California and beyond.
Alpha Greek Apparel
With fraternities and sororities at colleges and universities nationwide requiring specialized apparel, management and entrepreneurship alumnus Jason Liu ’13 recognized a business opportunity. His company, Alpha Greek Apparel, founded in 2013, now provides custom Greek-themed clothing at locations in Fountain Valley and Irvine. “Do something that you are passionate about and love doing,” he says. “During peak season, I sometimes spend 10 to 12 hours per day at the shop and work through Saturdays and Sundays. But I do not even feel like I am at work. I feel at home when I am at the shop, because I truly enjoy what I am doing.” Read more.
Brave Little Ones
Alumna Tiffaney Youngblood ’16 (marketing) knew she wanted to launch a business that would have a positive impact on the lives of children. Inspired by guest speakers and Mihaylo alumni and brothers James Fratzke ’14 and Ryan Fratzke ’14 (marketing), who spoke to her MKTG 351 – Principles of Marketing course, she created Brave Little Ones, a kids’ clothing line. Youngblood has relied on social media for her success, with 95% of her business originating on her Instagram page. She has also embraced a socially responsible business model, with $1 of each sale going to Under His Umbrella, a nonprofit that seeks to improve the lives of children in underdeveloped regions of Africa. Her advice to students with entrepreneurial aspirations: “First, determine what your dreams are,” she says. “It helps to write out a couple of them and figure out which ones would be feasible at this point in your life. Second, don’t be afraid to ask questions. I ask questions to everyone anywhere I go.” Read more of Youngblood’s story.
Jordan Poblete ’14 (entertainment and tourism) visited Disneyland every weekend as a high school student. In 2008, he and his friends developed the idea for an online magazine that would cover the latest events and activities at The Happiest Place on Earth. Today, that dream is a reality, as the Disney Examiner provides readers with regular updates on movie and product reviews, special events, Disney-related photos and op-ed pieces. “A little bit of magic requires a whole lot of work, and we share that sentiment equally with our friends at Disney,” says Poblete.
International Surf Lifesaving Association (ISLA)
Entrepreneurship alumni Henry Reyes ’10 and Raquel Lizarraga ’10 are co-founders of ISLA, a volunteer organization that seeks to educate the public and policymakers to prevent drowning deaths in the U.S. and other countries. “During college I didn’t think that my future would include traveling the world advocating for water safety, lifesaving development and drowning prevention,” Lizarraga says. “Through ISLA, I’ve had the opportunity to change the world. I’ve been able to implement positive change through spreading awareness and educating.” Learn more about ISLA’s activities and presidential recognition in a previous blog post.
Low Down Custom Rods
Recent rains have replenished local freshwater reservoirs, which is good reason to pack up your fishing gear and head to the water. Mihaylo finance alumnus Ben Dehnadi ’04 can help you select the best fishing gear for your needs at his Low Down Custom Rods showroom in Tustin, which opened in summer 2015. Dehnadi has been manufacturing rods for years, an outgrowth of his childhood passion for fishing. “We plan to expand to other areas of fishing, filling gaps in the rod market, all the while keeping the art of rod-making alive and well in the United States and exporting around the world,” says Dehnadi.
Email, texts and social media may be responsible for snail mail’s decline, yet millions of individuals and businesses still receive plenty of paper mail to their homes or offices. With PostScan Mail, the brainchild of entrepreneurship alumnus Helmy El-Mangoury ’09, customers can have their mail scanned and uploaded to their online account. “More and more people interested in living a digital lifestyle will learn of PostScan Mail and come to depend on it as a reliable way to receive their mail, especially while on the go,” he said.
Search Business Group (formerly known as Ron Wave Design)
Mihaylo marketing alumnus Jason Khoo ’15 and graphic designer Ronald Arellano are helping local organizations spread their message through Fullerton-based Search Business Group (formerly known as Ron Wave Design). Offering print, web, mobile and email marketing, Khoo says his business concept was born from his studies: “My marketing coursework taught me how to think, do research and be a serious marketer. I learned how to do things the right way.”
What do you see when passing an abandoned wood building? Entrepreneurship alumnus Patrick Hayes ’14 sees a potential work of art. Securing permission to remove wood from abandoned buildings in Tennessee, he turns the wood into furniture, which he then sells. “My hope is to preserve a small piece of these homes, and give them a second life through my work,” he says.
Serve the Way (Sway)
The nonprofit Sway was founded by entertainment and tourism management alumnus Michael Willis ’15 with consultation from the Gianneschi Center for Nonprofit Research, Sway connects volunteers with opportunities to do good in the Southern California community through such organizations as Habitat for Humanity and the Los Angeles Food Bank. Started in 2015 with just 10 CSUF student members, Sway’s membership exceeded 100 within months. “Sway is an organization where everyone from all backgrounds and ages can find their niche and volunteer for something that they truly care for,” says Willis.
TOP Shop – The Only Print Shop
Management alumna Breanna Sewell ’14 developed the model for her business, TOP Shop – The Only Print Shop, in her BUAD 410 – Starting and Managing a Small Business, taught by Management Lecturer Jeffrey Longshaw and Center for Entrepreneurship Director John Bradley Jackson. The shop, located in her husband’s hometown of Desert Hot Springs, Calif., assists clients from throughout the United States (and even one from Australia) with logos, branding, marketing campaigns, business cards, brochures, banners, letterhead, envelopes, labels, boxes and pouches. “If your project is printed, TOP Shop can help you,” she says. Sewell was recognized as Best Business Person of the Year and her business was honored as the 2015 Small Business of the Year by the Desert Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce in 2015.