SUMMER 2011 | PREMIERE ISSUE NO. 1 | LAUNCH! MAGAZINE | 1
LAUNCH!PREMIERE ISSUE | SUMMER 2011 | bschool.pepperdine.edu/studentblog
ZUBIN MEHTA | TIM KIM | BRETT
FISHER & STEPHEN YEOH
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By LARRY COX
he Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity recently found that
within the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana metropolitan area, 470
of every 100,000 adults started a business in each month of 2009 – more
than the national average of 340. Aspiring entrepreneurs are increasingly
seeking assistance, and universities and entrepreneur support organizations
across the nation are increasingly mobilizing to meet this growing demand.
Business schools in particular are developing more stand-alone entrepreneur-
ship programs and degree concentrations that focus on helping students bring
their ideas to life. Entrepreneur organizations are creating more workshops,
boot camps, and networking events designed to coach nascent entrepreneurs
and offer peer-to-peer guidance throughout the start-up process. All of these
efforts are well intended, but could be more effective.
Learning How to Uncover New Commercialization
Opportunities for Existing IP 4
Zubin Mehta 6
Tim Kim 8
Brett Fisher and Stephen Yeoh 10
Sameer Gupta 12
10 Entrepreneurship Rules You Must Know! 14
ON THE COVER
Gina Warren (MBA ‘11) won the grand prize at the 2011
Pepperdine University Business Plan Competition Finals.
Judges connected with her proposal for Memoir Studios, a
service that would allow families to capture and record the
memoirs of elder members and then packages their stories into
a personalized, professionally crafted keepsake book. Gina’s
Memoir Studios previously took first place in Pepperdine
University’s inaugural Fast Pitch Competition, part of the
summit Entrepreneur’s Journey.
4 | LAUNCH! MAGAZINE | PREMIERE ISSUE NO. 1 | SUMMER 201144444 || LALALALAUNUNUNUNCHCHC !! MAMAGAAAAAAAAAAAAGAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGAAAAAZIZZIZIZZIZIZZZZZIZZZZIZZZZ NENENENENENENENENENENEEEENENEENENEENEEENENENENENEENEEEENENENEENENEEEEE ||||||| PRPRPRPRPRPRPPPRPPRPRPRPPPRPPRPRPRPPRPPPPPPPP EEEEEEEEEEMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEME IEEEREREREREE IIIISSSSSSSSSSSSUEUEUEEUEEUEEE NNNOO.O.O.. 1111 |||| SSSSUMUMUUMUMMEMEMEMEMEMEERRRRRRR 220202020201111
Learning How to Uncover New
for Existing IP
By AMY BIEMILLER
cientists explore phenomena in order to determine why
something occurs. Business people explore options to
determine how to meet a speciﬁc need. By melding the “how”
and the “why,” Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and
Management has developed a measureable process for uncovering
commercialization opportunities for existing intellectual property.
SUMMER 2011 | PREMIERE ISSUE NO. 1 | LAUNCH! MAGAZINE | 5
Named the 15x Process by its creator Larry Cox, Associate Professor of
Entrepreneurship and director of the School’s entrepreneurship program, the
process was designed to develop 15 times as many new revenue streams from
a single existing patent.
“The process is like a prism,” explains Cox. “Instead of narrowly focusing on
one technology to meet one need, we want to scatter multiple opportunities
across a ﬁeld of inquiry in order to discover new applications. This process is
not about developing a business plan. Rather it is about solving problems.”
15X’s ﬁrst proving ground united research scientists from University of
California, Santa Barbara with Pepperdine MBAs in an intense two-month
Beginning in February, the MBAs and scientists met and were matched as
teams by John Shearer, the School’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence. “The team
dynamic was of utmost importance in getting this project to work well,”
Shearer says. “It was important for me to understand the personal
motivation for each of the participants, as well as to consider their
professional and academic experience before matching them in teams,” he
Once matched, the teams used the 15X Process to collaborate and delve
into existing intellectual property designed for a speciﬁc purpose in order to
identify additional market opportunities to generate new revenue. Each
team’s goal was to have 15 solid opportunities ready to pitch to an audience
of private venture capitalists and entrepreneurs at an inaugural presentation
event on April 1.
“The teams presented a total of 135 new ideas, so our success surpassed
our original expectations,” says Mike Sims, executive ofﬁcer, Corporate and
External Relations at the School. “We proved that collaboration between
scientists and MBAs have a far-reaching economic impact. And we helped
UCSB uncover many new commercial applications.”
The teams developed innovative solutions by uncovering new ways to
apply known technology to meet needs in the marketplace. One team took
zinc oxide thin ﬁlm processing to another level by matching it with smart
window technology to reduce heat loss. Another applied fast and accurate
nanoparticle analysis technology to the cosmetics industry for safer and
more enhanced products. “Team Calamari” discovered a use for organic
epoxy based on the chemistry of squid beaks in composite manufacturing
resulting in joining without wear. A fourth team applied a unique software
program designed to measure and correct visual distortion due to macular
degeneration to the design of drugstore kiosks for the visually-impaired. The
winning team’s idea was equally as creative: replace silicon packaging in
commercial electronics with titanium cooling technology to safeguard the tech
components from heat damage.
“The event garnered great input from the judges as well as the audience,”
says Sims. “The teams were pressed to defend the feasibility of the new
commercialization opportunities, deﬁne their markets, analyze costs and ex-
plain the science behind the innovations.”
Grasping the science was one of the biggest challenges for the teams’ MBAs
says Evangelos Magiatis, a member of the event’s winning team. “It was
challenging to understand seven years of data behind the technology in
only two months,” he says. “But this was a great ’rubber hitting the road’
experience working with bright people, real products and real life problems
“Our MBAs on each team did a great job, especially considering most of them
took this project on while preparing for ﬁnals, writing their strategy papers
and for many, working full time,” says Sims.
Now that the process is proven, the School is considering how to develop the
“We are exploring how to match the 15X Process with commercial entities
now, in order to help them identify new revenue streams for their existing
intellectual property,” says Sims. “We’ve also started to enhance the university
model further by reaching out to other research schools and MBA programs.”
In addition, the School is assisting in the creation of an early stage venture
fund – the First Wave Accelerator – to leverage 15X-generated opportunities.
The School gratefully acknowledges the support of Red Plane Enterprises and Santa Barbara
Bank & Trust as sponsors of the ﬁrst 15X Process event. For more information about the 15X
Process, please contact Mike Sims at 310.506.7406.
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Company Name: Global Wave
Company URL: www.globalwavegroup.com
Location: Aliso Viejo, CA and India
Mission: Help ﬁnancial institutions
better manage risk and grow
Business Idea: Lending and risk management
Target Customer: Banks, credit unions, ﬁnance
companies and community
Year Founded: 2007
Avg. Annual Revenue: Conﬁdential
No. of Employees: 14
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o Zubin Mehta (E.M.B.A., ’06), an experienced banking professional,
it only made sense that technology solutions for ﬁnancial institutions
should be implemented by individuals with deep experience in how
those institutions work. But a lack of such professionals served to jettison him
from commercial lending to entrepreneurship in order to ﬁll that need. That,
in turn, inspired him to develop a technology solution that delivers intuitive
simplicity to some of banking’s greatest problems.
“In today’s competitive and risk-managed business lending environment, ﬁ-
nancial institutions are faced with increasing pressure to ensure credit quality
as well as to balance and grow loan portfolios in order to stay competitive in
the marketplace,” he explains. “Banks are also challenged with managing and
maintaining multiple silo technology platforms that do not communicate with
His intimate understanding of these challenges drove him to establish
Global Wave, a company that has developed a technology solution that readily
deﬁnes a simple business model: leverage a complete understanding about
the credit process in order to successfully deliver optimum solutions. “Our
product, Credit Track, breaks down the silo technology platforms common in
banks and allows bankers to manage their entire loan process within a single,
user friendly application,” he says.
Now that Global Wave is four years old, Mehta is working to meet a new
challenge: serve an increasing client base. “We have been fortunate enough to
grow despite the economy and our particular market,” he says. “The biggest
challenge for us now is recruiting talented people that have both a banking
and a software sales and services background.”
Even after four years, Mehta is still pleasantly surprised by his decision to leave
the corporate environment for entrepreneurship.
“I worked in the corporate world for 18 years before becoming an entrepre-
neur. I wasn’t planning on becoming an entrepreneur until my last year at
Pepperdine during my M.B.A., when I decided that my skills would be better
utilized to help banks solve risk management challenges that they all face,” he
His time spent at Pepperdine had a big inﬂuence on the development of his
company. “It was at Pepperdine that I met other classmates who, today, are my
business partners. In addition, the ‘wave’ in the company name is a tribute to
the school’s mascot,” he adds.
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Company Name: Flynn Acquisitions, DBA TrustyMAX Tools
Company URL: www.go2socket.com
Location: Chatsworth, CA
Mission: First, to honor God in all aspects of the business
and then to have the GO-2 Socket become a
common item in every do-it-yourselfer’s
Business Idea: One hand tool that can replace up to 25
different sockets and effectively work on rusty
and worn out nuts or bolts.
Target Customer: Do-it-yourself consumers.
Year Founded: 2010
Avg. Annual Revenue: Conﬁdential
Number of Employees: 15+ (Outsourced / Contracted)
SUMMER 2011 | PREMIERE ISSUE NO. 1 | LAUNCH! MAGAZINE | 9
n one short year, Tim Kim (MBA ’10) has ridden the roller coaster of
entrepreneurship, experiencing the thrill of dizzying heights and the
disappointment of languid valleys. It’s a ride he had not expected to take
the year before.
“Being an entrepreneur has been an unexpected privilege,” says Kim. “If I had
to pick the best candidate for an entrepreneur from my fellow classmates,
I would’ve chosen so many others before considering myself for the role.”
While ﬁnishing his MBA studies, Kim learned that his engineer father and
nurse mother had been struggling ﬁnancially due to the recession. He also
learned that his father had developed, but never marketed, a hand tool that
had remarkable utility for the average do-it-yourselfer.
“A few months before graduating with my MBA, I was led to set aside my
own professional aspirations and use the education I’d been given to help my
family,” he says.
He got to work crafting a business plan to market his father’s invention
and entered the 2010 Pepperdine University Business Plan Competition.
There, his plan for the GO-2 Socket – a hand tool that can replace up to 25
different sockets and effectively work on rusty and worn out nuts or bolts –
was judged by the entrepreneurial elite including Neil Clark Warren of
e-Harmony and Susanna Kass of eBay. While up against tough competition,
his plan demonstrated high market potential and was awarded the top prize.
With a business plan, prize money and ﬁnancial backing from investors, Kim
initiated production and marketing, working with vendors in California,
Oregon, Florida and China to get the GO-2 Socket to market.
“So many classes and so many professors all did their part to help me decide
to go forward with this venture,” says Kim. “There is no doubt in my mind
that if I had gone to any other business school, the market would not have the
GO-2 Socket because there would be no Flynn Acquisitions to take it there.”
But even the best laid plans can be threatened, and Kim ran into a major
challenge early in product roll out.
“When our factory took longer than expected to deliver inventory and we
were unable to air our infomercial during the Christmas season, I had to tell
the very people who believed in me this disappointing news,” he says. “I felt
like I’d failed them. Thankfully, they took it well.”
That particular low point has been outweighed, Kim explains, by consistent
support from other entrepreneurs.
“Since I started this business, I’ve been repeatedly amazed by the kindness
of strangers. So many veterans of this industry have become mentors to me
and have selﬂessly given me wisdom, direction and encouragement. This has
been an immeasurable blessing to our efforts,” he says.
While Flynn Acquisitions is well on its way to achieving the mission to have
a GO-2 Socket in every do-it-yourselfer’s toolbox, entrepreneurship has a
deeper personal beneﬁt for Kim.
“Entrepreneurship has deepened my faith,” he says. “There’s so little I can
control and there are so many ways to fail. Time after time, internal mistakes
and external difﬁculties have challenged our existence, yet things always
seem to resolve and progress. I can’t take the credit for any of that. This is
the most uncertain time in my life and still, I’ve been able to ﬁnd peace.”
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Brett Fisher and
Company Name: Learn It By Ear
Company URL: www.learnitbyear.com
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Mission: Make learning more effective and productive
Business Idea: Audio on-demand access to study material
Target Customer: MBA and adult learners, especially those who prefer auditory
Year Founded: 2010
Avg. Annual Revenue: Conﬁdential
Number of Employees: 17
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wo study partners who struggled to retain complex legal deﬁnitions
necessary for their MBA in entrepreneurship and ﬁnance turned their
conundrum into a commercial enterprise – and have met a need for a
segment of adult learners who have traditionally been marginalized.
Brett Fisher (FEMBA ’11) and Stephen Yeoh (FEMBA ’11) formed Learn It
By Ear, a joint venture that takes study ﬂashcards to the next level. Their
concept replaces sight learning with aural leaning via MP3 audio sound cards
to help students taking foundational college-level courses learn and retain
deﬁnition-dense subject matter. It’s a concept and a product that is exciting
to both the founders and consumers.
“We both love solving problems that require we think outside the box and
not be constrained by traditional boundaries,” says Yeoh. “With Learn It By
Ear we have created a paradigm change in audio products and study aids.”
“What gets me excited is that we have received overwhelming positive
response from customers with who have learning disabilities and those who
are avid audio learners and are seeking a product that speciﬁcally will meet
their need for an alternative learning format,” says Fisher.
The struggle that prompted the two entrepreneurs to launch Learn It
By Ear had its genesis in the business law class they took, taught by Larry
Bumgardner. “It was an extraordinarily challenging and stimulating class that
pushed us to work very hard,” says Yeoh. The class requirements pushed the
two study partners to create paper ﬂashcards and then record audio ﬂashcards
so they could study even during their commutes. “After the class, we went
back and professionally recorded and re-wrote all the material so it could be
used by any student taking business law at any university,” says Fisher.
The company now offers study material for business law and
using memorable characters and music. The production method helps students
learn and retain key concepts and deﬁnitions that are critical to being able to
apply their knowledge in analysis, implementation and decision making in the
The concept is a game-changer for the audio market, which presents an
interesting challenge to the two entrepreneurs. “When consumers ﬁrst hear
what we do, they think they understand what we offer, but automatically
assume something they are familiar with - an audio book,” says Yeoh. “We
need to carefully develop the description of what we provide. It’s not an au-
dio book, a book on tape or anything along those lines.”
Both Fisher and Yeoh have a natural bent for entrepreneurship. “I’ve always
had an instinct to ask, ‘Is this the best way this can be accomplished?’ If I
was really passionate about the challenge, I’d dive into ﬁguring out a better
solution,” says Fisher.
Yeoh discovered that his ennui in the various jobs he has held prior to this
venture was really pointing him to entrepreneurship. “It should have been
apparent to me early on. I’ve had jobs for most of my working life but always
felt something was missing,” he says. “As a result, I was constantly dabbling in
something. In one of my entrepreneur classes at Pepperdine, we went through
a discovery process to see if we would be comfortable being an entrepreneur
and then it hit me - that’s where I belong - in the challenging creative space
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Company Name: Jobonomics.com
Company URL: www.jobonomics.com
Location: Irvine, CA
Mission: Empower job seekers with the
tools and knowledge to
stand out and get noticed by
Business Idea: Apply the same technology
that recruiters and job sites use
to locate and hire candidates to
craft attention-getting resumes.
Target Customer: Professionals in a job search
Year Founded: 2010
Avg. Annual Revenue: Conﬁdential
Number of Employees: 5
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ameer Gupta (M.B.A., ’09) had no idea that helping his friends —
and friends-of-friends — ﬁne-tune their resumes would put him on
the course of entrepreneurship. He had never considered turning his
ability to get others hired into a successful business venture.
“I have always been interested in business but I never considered myself
an entrepreneur,” says Gupta, who had completed his master’s degree in
Software Engineering when he took the Entrepreneurship Program. “Taking
Professor Larry Cox’s class not only taught me how to be successful in business,
it ignited a passion for entrepreneurship that I never knew I had.”
Armed with a strong understanding of the technology that recruiters and
job sites use to locate and hire candidates, Gupta synthesized his experience
in editing and crafting resumes for friends into a viable business he named
Jobonomics. “We use tools and expertise to help people diagnose and ﬁx
what’s wrong with their resumes,” he says.
Early in the genesis of Jobonomics, Gupta and his team learned that most
job seekers are not skilled in ﬁne tuning and focusing their resumes on
speciﬁc job opportunities. “We started holding free resume workshops at local
institutions to educate job seekers,” he explains. Giving away expertise
proved useful in strengthening the business. “At these workshops we picked
up some valuable attitudes and perceptions of job seekers and applied that
knowledge to our overall communication strategy for the organization. The
results have been great!”
Starting his own business has beneﬁtted Gupta in many ways. “I believe that
there is something special about starting and running a business you are
passionate about. Being part of the foundation of a company and its overall
success is gratifying,” he says. “Being my own boss is a positive thing for me
and my family.”
Gupta is quick to encourage other would-be entrepreneurs to think
out of the box when it comes to developing a career. “I envisioned
retiring as an engineer,” he says. “My advice for other students interested in
entrepreneurship is not to be close minded about new ideas. Any idea can
be worked on and built upon to create a successful business. If you stop
dreaming you will be stuck at ‘Friendster’ or ‘MySpace’ stage and never get
to ‘Facebook’ stage.”
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Rules You Must Know!
By VIKAS KHANNA, PKE MBA Candidate 2011
f there is one person out there who knows the rules of engagement for a new start up, it’s Reid Hoffman. He’s the
co-founder of LinkedIn – the original business social media site that has become a part of our daily digital lives; which,
incidentally, has also recently ﬁled to go public. In addition, Reid is a partner at Greylock so he’s intimately familiar with both the
entrepreneurial and venture rules of success. Recently, I was able to hear Reid speak to his rules for building companies and
thought it would be great information to share.
SUMMER 2011 | PREMIERE ISSUE NO. 1 | LAUNCH! MAGAZINE | 15
Rule #1: Look for disruptive change.
If you are about to start on a new venture, ask yourself: What is
becoming possible or necessary that was not possible before? Is a new
product or service able to take over an existing market or create a new
When I co-founded LinkedIn, the tech industry was in a deep
depression. I looked at all the opportunities created by the Internet
and had the idea that eventually everyone would need a professional
proﬁle online. The disruption was that people were able to directly
reach the best candidates rather than hoping for responses from a
listing in the paper or an ad on a Web site.
Rule #2: Aim big.
Regardless of whether a start-up is targeting a big idea or a small one,
it will still require the same amount of blood, sweat and tears—so aim
What is “big?”
It is a new product or service that creates or dominates a signiﬁcant
Rule #3: Build a network to magnify your company.
People tend to think that behind every great start-up is a single
entrepreneur with a whiz-bang idea. The reality is great companies
are built by a number of people with talent who are surrounded by
amplifying networks. The most successful entrepreneurs bring in
advisors, investors, collaborators and early customer relationships.
Rule #4: Plan for good luck and bad luck.
You should always assume you will have both good luck and bad luck
with your new company.
Good luck is not as simple as “it worked out.” Rather, this is when you
discover a great opportunity and can quickly shift to go after it.
Bad luck is what happens when your ﬁrst idea doesn’t work. It doesn’t
mean failure; it means you need to pursue plan B.
Rule #5: Maintain ﬂexible persistence.
Very often entrepreneurs are given conﬂicting advice: “Be persistent!
Stay committed to your vision!” or “Pivot on key data! Know when
to change!” The challenge is to follow them both, but know which
advice is most appropriate for which situation. You must know how to
maintain ﬂexible persistence.
Rule #6: Launch early enough that you are embarrassed by
your ﬁrst product release.
With my ﬁrst startup, Socialnet.com, it took us nine months to launch
the ﬁrst product. That was a disastrous mistake.
We wanted to have all the detailed functionality right away, including
social controls so people could decide to connect or not with the
people in their networks. We wanted everyone to “Ooh!” and
“Aaah!” about how terriﬁc the product was.
We wasted a bunch of time and it put us months behind on more
important problems that needed to be solved, such as how to get our
product in the hands of millions of people. From that I learned, if you
are not embarrassed by your ﬁrst release, you’ve launched too late!
Reid Hoffman’s Ten Entrepreneurship Rules For Building Massive Companies
16 | LAUNCH! MAGAZINE | PREMIERE ISSUE NO. 1 | SUMMER 2011
Rule #7: Aspire, but don’t drink your own Kool-Aid.
Target excellence, but be very careful about blind trust or belief in your
It is important to launch as early as you can in order to learn how your
customers use your product or service. It is equally important to identify
metrics that tell you if your aspirations and vision are on target. You
should also get feedback from your network in order to iterate or pivot
on the target, the product and/or the service.
In other words, maintain your aspiration but always look for good
perspective on how you are doing. It is very easy for creative innovators
to get caught up in their own story rather than learning where they
should be headed.
Rule #8: Having a great product is important but having great product
distribution is more important.
I meet many entrepreneurs who think the best product is the most
important thing and that the best product should always win.
What many people fail to realize is that without great distribution, the
product dies. How will you get your product in the hands of millions or
hundreds of millions of people?
Rule #9: Pay close attention to culture and hires from the
Your ﬁrst hires set your culture, so make them good ones. These ﬁrst
people hire the next people and so on.
The old wisdom was that you needed people with a decade more
of experience in your start-up. The things a smart person learned a
decade ago won’t help you now – you’re doing things that have never
been done before, and the world and the competitive landscape are
changing at hyper speeds. What you really need are people who can
Rule #10: Rules of entrepreneurship are guidelines, not laws
Do not pay too much attention to rules set by other people. Entre-
preneurs are inventors. They are successful when they make some-
thing work for the very ﬁrst time. Sometimes in order to make some-
thing work, you will drive over the guardrail of one of these rules.
Entrepreneurs sometimes just make new rules.
Vikas Khanna is founder and managing director at Zooovee Ventures, an an-
gel investment and business adviisory ﬁrm.