CBU’s Entrepreneurship Program Nurtures Riverside’s Future Founders

Published: 02/21/2023

Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson speaks at a Leadership Society meeting at the Jabs School. Courtesy California Baptist University - Eileen Solorzano

Balancing schoolwork and the entrepreneurial dream can be difficult for college students, but the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive, according to  Dr. Tim Gramling, dean of the Dr. Robert K. Jabs School of Business at California Baptist University.

“We encourage young people to pursue entrepreneurship early, as opposed to waiting until they graduate from school when life can be more complicated,” Gramling said.

To address this need, CBU launched an entrepreneurship program ten years ago that became a full-fledged bachelor’s degree program in 2016. The major, filled with 50 students this fall, teaches topics such as how to build entrepreneurship upon personal passion and how to write a business plan. 

Students in the program can access incredible resources such as the Christian Business Incubator. From the idea stage to investor pitches, the incubator supports student teams with tools to successfully launch their ventures in a faith-friendly environment. Nolan Gouveia, department lead for the entrepreneurship program, said many teams have gone on to grow big ideas into businesses.

“Our goal is to get students to launch and help mitigate as much risk along the way,” Gouveia said.

The faculty at the Jabs School deeply understand the challenges of starting a business. What sets the entrepreneurship program apart, Gouveia explained, is most faculty members are also business owners.

“We teach students from practicality,” said Gouveia, a serial entrepreneur who draws from experience launching five successful companies. “I bring today’s case studies to class, not what happened 20 years ago.”

Winners of the 2022 Bob Goodrich Business Plan Competition. Courtesy California Baptist University - Eileen Solorzano

And it’s not only entrepreneurship majors who get in on the fun. Students from all CBU colleges are invited to compete in the annual Bob Goodrich Business Plan Competition sponsored by the Jabs School. This year, nine teams were selected to present a five-minute business pitch to a panel of judges and compete for $15,000 in prize money.

“The competition is a clear vehicle to prepare students with a strong business story that will get them funded,” Gramling said.

The winning team, WaiSmart, received $7,500 toward a mechanical-electrical engineering mechanism that controls shower temperature and water flow. Gramling said the innovation and diversity of businesses presented at this year’s competition reflect the spirit of entrepreneurship in Riverside. Gramling has lived in 10 states across the U.S. and said he considers Riverside the most welcoming city to put a startup dream into reality.

“Riverside is an incredibly vibrant and fast-growing area where our students can see a future,” Gramling said. “Students feel called to contribute to the innovation they see around them daily.”

As much as CBU gets from the community, it also gives back. The Jabs School opened a Center for Business Excellence last year to support small and medium-sized business owners. The center proudly offers non-degree business programs and training, such as one-to-one coaching with faculty, and the first University-based Microsoft Office Specialist Expert certification site in Riverside County.

“The power of an entrepreneurial education is limitless,” said Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson, City of Riverside. “CBU opens up a world of possibilities for students from all walks of life to turn their brightest ideas and passions into successful companies.”

For information about CBU’s entrepreneurship degree program, go to www.calbaptist.edu/programs/bachelor-of-science-entrepreneurship.

For information about Cal Baptist University, go to www.calbaptist.edu