Thursday, December 2, 2021

CSUSB Entrepreneurship Made a Big Splash at the Virtual Enterprise Expo


On Tuesday, February 19th, at the Pasadena Convention Center, the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) ( was on scene as the headlining sponsor in support of the annual Regional Virtual Enterprise Conference & Exhibition Competition. The event represented a unique opportunity to reinforce the value of entrepreneurship to young business-minded professional, high school students from four surrounding counties of San Diego, Inland Empire, Riverside, and Los Angeles as well as some participants from the state of New York.

This event was attended by over 1,600 Virtual Enterprise (VE) students from 430 different schools who networked, competed, and showcased their budding business concepts to professional business judges. Among the activities, IECE sponsored the Elevator Pitch Competition, Business Trade Show Booth Design, and the Marketing Plan Competition. IECE also presented a trade show booth, making direct introductions and gaining interest and recruiting for the CSUSB Entrepreneurship program. Students were excited to learn of all the unique attributes of available resources offered to them by CSUSB campus and hundreds were very interested to learn more about the UpStarters Discovery Camp rolling out in summer 2019.

IECE offered up expertise within additional show format arenas and held “Coffee Talk” session hosted by our Entrepreneur in Residence, Steve Abbott. The format allowed Abbott to directly engage with students and deliver a realistic picture of what it looks like to actually develop your business while pursuing your college degree.

Prior to the closing ceremony, CSUSB Theater Art & Improv. Professor, Johanna Smith delivered a highly anticipated “Improvisational Mind” workshop. This Theater Arts course for Entrepreneurship students demonstrates the unique value that CSUSB Entrepreneurship programs brings to its potential student body. The VE students who participated in the workshop had praise-worthy reviews!

“Prior to this experience, I was a big fan of theatre but I never thought that I was capable of doing anything to that degree of skill. I always thought of myself as slow-witted, so, I never really tried, but your workshop really brought me out of my comfort zone! I think this experience will definitely play into my approach to salesmanship from now on and I feel a lot more comfortable with impromptu speaking. Thank you a lot for taking time out of your day to make our stressful day a little less stressful!” -Vivian Le, VE Student.

“I wanted to express my gratitude to Johanna Smith for her amazing workshop. Coming into the workshop, I was not quite sure what to expect. However, I quickly caught on and was pleasantly surprised. The workshop pushed me to try things that I had never done before. I think that the workshop really brought to light a new side of me and allowed me to grow as a person. I really appreciate Ms. Smith taking her time to host the workshop and I hope that she is able to come again next year to help even more students.” – Ethan Nguyen, CEO of Ecocentric.

The event closing keynote presentation was delivered by Dr. Mike Stull, Director of IECE and academic professor of entrepreneurship. Dr. Stull gave a highly energized talk covering the “Top 5 Rookie Mistakes of Entrepreneurship.” Dr. Stull’s address was well received by the crowd of students. Closing out the event, Dr. Stull and VE California Regional Director Teri Jones presented the top awards to all of the winning students for various competitive categories, including the sponsored IECE Elevator Pitch Competition.

Students reaching the top prizes in their respective competitions will now move on to compete in the national Youth Business Summit, which is a one-of-a-kind global business convention for VE students, held in New York later this year.

Virtual Enterprises (VE) is an educational nonprofit, transforming students into business professionals by bringing the workplace into the classroom. Since its inception in 1996, VE has served over 140,000 students, including many from economically disadvantaged communities. VE’s team includes a community of educators, business leaders, and post-secondary partners who help guide their mission. They currently support over 15,000 students across 19 states each year, working with schools and districts to implement a year-long, credited class that provides students with an authentic, collaborative business, and entrepreneurship experience through its live global business simulation model. Learn more

Inland Empire Business Journal
The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering San Bernardino & Riverside Counties.