YEA! Students Are Laying the Foundations for Future Businesses

January 19th, 2017

By Mayra Stone
Program Director

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy Class of 2017 is moving along quite smoothly. The Academy is in the 9th week of instruction – only 21 weeks left.

We currently have thirteen promising businesses working diligently on formulating their business plans, forming partnership agreements and laying down foundations for each future company. By the end of the 30-week program, these students will emerge as C-level executives of their own businesses.

Many members of our community have graciously volunteered their time to work with our students, in the form of: instructors, mentors, graphic designers, field trip hosts and guest speakers. Since the inception of this year’s program, we have attended two field trips and have had some very insightful guest speakers.

The first field trip was hosted, for the fourth year in-a-row, by Ad-Venture Video Productions where owner Ted Ruiz Sr. spoke to the students of his experience as an entrepreneur. After working to build his video production career at KSEE 24 television, Ruiz realized that he wanted more and when opportunity came knocking 18 years ago, he purchased Ad-Venture Video Productions.

Ad-Venture Video studios houses the largest green screen in the valley! Ruiz is now recognized as a business leader in the Central Valley due to his work ethic and dedication to excellence.

Our second field trip was hosted by Sammy Franco, a Clovis High graduate and owner of Beach Hut Deli at Campus Pointe. Franco introduced the students to franchise business and spoke of the ins and outs of being your own boss. Since graduating from Clovis High in 1997, Franco has worked for a number of restaurants, gaining valued experience which eventually lead in to restaurant management.

Franco and his wife Rachel opened their franchise restaurant in June of 2015, being one of the first businesses to open their doors in the new Campus Pointe shopping center, just east of the Fresno State campus and Save Mart Center.

On November 15, Dr. Linda Thomas, Dean of Instruction for Career Technical Education and Athletics at Clovis Community College was our first guest speaker. Dr. Thomas introduced the class to SWOT Analysis - a study undertaken by an organization to identify its internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as its external opportunities and threats - and provided them with useful tools to help properly identify the strengths and weaknesses of their businesses.

In addition to being the Dean of Instruction for Clovis Community College, Dr. Thomas has served as an academic dean at San Joaquin Valley College and was the program director and lecturer for the Center for Professional and Continuing Education at the University of the Pacific - amongst other impressive achievements. Her career also includes teaching a variety of courses at a multitude of colleges located right here in the Central Valley, “Teaching will always hold a special place in my heart,” Dr. Thomas said.

On December 6, Dr. Lori Bennett, the new president of Clovis Community College, spent some time with our class and introduced them to Marketing and Design Concepts.

Dr. Bennett has more than two decades of education experience. She received her bachelor of science degree in business from University of Southern California, her MBA with an emphasis in marketing and finance from University of Chicago and her doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from California State University, Northridge. In addition to her academic career, she has over 10 years of business and marketing experience.

Our budding entrepreneurs are currently learning about business finances, coached by our instructor, Rod Geist, VP of and Investment Program Manager at Central Valley Community Bank.

Mr. Geist has been with Central Valley Community Bank since 2003. He is responsible for the oversight and management of the Bank’s investment representatives, developing and implementing sales strategies and goals that promote development of new relationships, he also trains bank personnel on investment products in support of customer needs. He has worked in the banking industry since the 1980’s. We are very thankful for Mr. Geist’s instruction and guidance. This the fourth year he is volunteering for the Clovis Chamber YEA! program.

If you are anyone you know would be interested in volunteering for YEA! you can contact Mayra Stone, Program Director, at 559.299.7363 or email .