This year’s Spirit of the Entrepreneur awards show honored the Inland Empire’s most successful entrepreneurs, in hopes of giving CSUSB students role models to look up to.
Held at the Riverside Convention Center, the event was crowded, with guests in black tie attire who mingled in the hall just outside the theater room.
Founder and producer of the show, Dr. Mike Stull, invited students from his class, who got the chance to network and follow in the footsteps of successful entrepreneurs.
“I’m looking to grow my business,” said licensed realtor and undergraduate student Adan Espinosa. “I’m just looking for some expansion and a couple of investors with some money.”
Inside the theater room, guests were treated to dinner and live entertainment before the awards show began.
Artist Gregory Adams, within minutes, painted portraits of musicians such as Prince and John Lennon singing with Paul McCartney. As he painted, music from these musicians played on the speakers, giving extra pizzazz to Adams’ spontaneous movements.
Awards were separated into eight categories, such as Eco Entrepreneurs and General Entrepreneur. Nominees also had a chance of winning in a ninth category, for the Best of the Best award.
Nominees are picked for their innovation, leadership, performance, character, and entrepreneurial mindset and vision.
CEO of Fox Transportation Inc. Michael Fox, won both in the category of General Entrepreneur and the Best of the Best award.
“You have to want it, you have to do whatever you need to do. Initially you’re working 20 or 15 hours a day. All your finances are on credit cards, and that is your life,” said Fox, describing what it takes to make a business successful.
CSUSB students were given a chance to win 4,000 dollars during the Fast Pitch competition on stage as well. With just ninety seconds, students needed to win over the audience’s vote with their entrepreneurial ideas.
Henessey Soto took home the 4,000 dollars for her Balm Strips idea. Balm Strips are individual strips of lip balm, which helps prevent the spread of germs that other lip balm products may spread.
The Spirit of the Entrepreneur was founded to give students role models within the local business community, and to recognize business leaders in that community.
One of those business leaders is CEO of Cal Micro Recycling Roy Dann, whose company contributes to a better environment by properly disposing e-waste.
“When I ask Cal State students who their role model is, they’d say Bill Gates. I would say you can’t touch Bill Gates, you can’t meet Bill Gates, but you can be incredible overall entrepreneurs,” said Dr. Stull.
Dr. Stull was also recognized for producing the event over the last fifteen years by President Morales, Dean Laurence Rose, colleagues, and others, with the Star Maker award; being the tenth award of the night.
The after party later commenced, where specially invited guests were treated to champagne and glitter-covered chocolate. Some took photos wearing the provided props in front of a white backdrop.
American Auctioneers celebrity Dan Dotson was present at the after party, auctioning
Mr. Adams’ portraits to guests. One bid of 5,000 dollars was by Associate Producer and Media Specialist Stacey Allis, who took home the John Lennon and Paul McCartney portrait.
Music played lightly in the background as guests mingled and networked late into the night.
The event will be held again next year in November.