On Saturday, April 27, the Leatherby Center of Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics hosted a Career Launch Workshop co-sponsored  by the Argyros School of Business & Economics and the Dodge College of Film & Media Arts. The schools joined forces to provide students who are interested in entertainment or technology the opportunity to learn about how to start and scale their own business. The event consisted of a panel discussion featuring Chapman Alumni followed by presentations from Jake Aguas, Marshall Toplansky, Shahzad Malik, Joern Kleinhans and Tom Teller ’16 (MBA ’18).

Panel Discussion

During the panel discussion, we had the pleasure of hearing from Jeff Haskell ’19 (Trikon), Sam Warner ’15  (Well Told Entertainment), Andrew Chennisi ’17 (Broca LLC), Yusef Chabayta ’17 (Broca LLC), Ross Campbell ’13 (Lone Road Productions) and Anna Wozniewicz ’18 (Noctvrnal). These Chapman alumni are in the midst of building their own companies and had valuable information and tips to share with the audience. Finance and law were common topics discussed as areas they struggled most with during their startup process. One piece of advice, financially, is to keep track of revenues and expenses regularly so when Tax Day comes around it isn’t a living nightmare. The panel also touched on client acquisition and maintaining good relations with your current clients to build loyalty and rapport.

The guest speakers did an outstanding job presenting and engaging with the audience.

Special Guest, professor Jake Aguas

Professor speaking at the front of a room to audience.

After the alumni panel, Jake Aguas presented an introduction to entrepreneurship. To begin, he went over the definition, misconceptions and motives of an entrepreneur. Then he explained what it means to be an “intrapreneur” (an entrepreneur within an already established company). Professor Aguas also had the audience do a critical thinking exercise about people’s personal definition of an entrepreneur.

Additional Guests

The next presentation came from Marshall Toplansky– a former serial entrepreneur and current Business Analytics professor at Chapman. Professor Toplansky shared a few stories during his time as a business owner and helpful tips about “when to hold ‘em and when to walk away.” To illustrate his point, Professor Toplansky shared a personal example of selling a company right in time before the market’s landscape drastically changed.

Shahzad Malik covered the basics of business law, which is essential information for anyone starting their own business. He explained the differences between business structures, such as a DBA, LLC, S-Corp and C-Corp. Additionally, he advised students about when to use NDAs, Patents and Trademarks, successfully clearing up  confusion regarding law and contracts in business.

Professor Kleinhans at front of room speaking to seated crowd.

Professor Joern Kleinhans speaks to the workshop attendees about financing startups.

Joern Kleinhans presented on Business Finance and practical tips for financing your startup. He stressed the importance of not spending unnecessary money, choosing the right investors and tracking everything. Some additional advice Professor Kleinhans gave is to make sure to have at least 2 years of runway to start your business, use free accounting softwares that are available, like Wave, and to not lend money to or from close friends.

Lastly, we had the opportunity to hear from recent Alumnus, Tom Teller ’16 (MBA ’18). Tom currently runs production company Frame 48, where he produces branded content for companies like Coca-Cola, Apple, and Porsche. He gave valuable insight into his daily operations as a business owner and covered topics such as creating opportunities for yourself, building (genuine) relationships and what he’s learned from his mistakes.

Overall, the event was a success. The speakers were insightful, the students were engaged, and the food was delicious. Leatherby Center Director, Mario Leone and Madeline Warren were happy to host Chapman University’s ambitious film and business students. The Leatherby Center team, led by Mr. Leone, is looking forward to hosting similar events with other campus units and preparing students for their entrepreneurial journey.

The Leatherby Center is a resource for the entire Chapman University community, not just business students!