The third annual "Entrepreneur's Journey" brought key experts in the areas of entrepreneurship and law to Pepperdine to address students on the elements of starting a business. The daylong symposium concluded with the announcement of the winners of the Fast-Pitch Competition, which this year included a law student connected with Pepperdine's Geoffrey H. Palmer Center for Entrepreneurship and the Law.
Cosponsored by the Graziadio School of Business and Management and the Palmer Center at the School of Law, the event featured 11 panelists from both business and law, including small business owners, angel investors, and venture capitalists.
Mike Biddle, president and founder of MBA Polymers, Inc., and Economist Magazine's 2010 Innovator of the Year for Energy and Environment, served as keynote speaker. Through a Skype interview, Biddle discussed the success of his internationally known business and the years spent designing it from his garage.
Alumnus Jason Nazar (JD/MBA '07), founder and CEO of Docstoc.com, presented on the topic "How to Break Out of Pack," encouraging students and graduates alike to be different in their approach to starting a business.
"Zig where others zag," Nazar said. "Do things meaningfully different than everyone else." He later continued, "Life's not about figuring out what to do. It's about figuring out why we aren't doing it."
Two panels focusing on legal and financial issues facing small businesses included three Pepperdine Law alumnae: Jasmine Termain, associate attorney, Beaumont Gitlin and Tashjian; Deborah Sweeney, founder and CEO of mycorporation.com; and Katherine Blair, partner, K&L Gates, LLP.
The Fast-Pitch competition featured 10 semi-finalists whose business plans were chosen from an original group of 40. In just 60 seconds, each competitor presented their idea to the audience and judges. Palmer Center and third year law student Isaac Agyeman won second place for his business pitch for CiteAnything, a resource designed to assist students and professionals alike with citing references. With his award came a $1,400 business package from mycorporation.com.
"I would like to be my own boss, set my own schedule, and achieve financial freedom," Agyeman said after the competition. "Some would say that this is wishful thinking, but the entrepreneur in me says otherwise. One true thing about an entrepreneur is that they are overly optimistic and I'm no different. In fact, I would say that a lot of entrepreneurship is simply conquering self-limiting beliefs."
In response to the Fast-Pitch results, Agyeman said, "The most amazing thing that happened is when one of the judges said, 'Isaac, I think you have a real business.' I've been working on CiteAnything for several months now and sometimes you wonder if you have a viable business. I needed that moment. It's great being surrounded by people who think like you as well."