A $1 million gift from Western Health Advantage (WHA) is expected to allow Sacramento State’s annual Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) to grow and flourish.

The gift was made public Monday, Nov. 18, on opening day of the 2019 event, now called Global Entrepreneurship Week presented by Western Health Advantage. WHA president and CEO Garry Maisel, '80 (Business Administration-Finance) made the presentation during a ceremony in the Carlsen Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. 

“Entrepreneurs are the backbone of innovation and business," said Maisel, also a member of the Carlsen Center's advisory board and longtime University Foundation board member. "And business creates jobs, and jobs lead individuals to prosperity, and prosperous individuals really are the backbone of a healthy economy.

"And people with jobs tend to be healthier and happier." 

Starting this year, the WHA endowment will fund GEW activities such as pitch competition prize money, speakers, receptions, and networking opportunities for student entrepreneurs.

GEW is scheduled to run through Nov. 22, with daytime and evening activities. Most events will be in the Carlsen Center in University Library.

Dale Carlsen, '84 (Business Administration), founder of Sleep Train Mattress Centers, and his wife, Katy, gave Sacramento State $6 million in November 2017 to create the interdisciplinary center that bears their name.

Sac State’s GEW was canceled in November 2018, when heavy smoke from the Camp Fire led to a prolonged campus closure. The event this year offers a robust lineup: For the first time, all seven academic colleges and the College of Continuing Education are participating and presenting special programs.

“GEW is representative of every college, demonstrating our interdisciplinary structure,” said Carlsen Center interim Director Cameron Law. “I believe this signals to our region that entrepreneurs aren’t just from one educational vertical or one walk of life, but represent the entirety of our student population.”

Law, former executive director of Social Venture Partners (SVP) of Sacramento, started his Carlsen Center job Oct. 17 with a goal of establishing Sac State as a regional hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.

“The $1 million commitment by Western Health Advantage signals a significant investment in our region’s entrepreneurial future,” Law said. “This investment will ensure that Sacramento State, a key talent pipeline for our region, will bring about a new wave of innovators and entrepreneurs.

“Additionally, it will unlock the University’s ability to build the entrepreneurial capacity of our region by elevating Global Entrepreneurship Week and the catalytic role it can serve in a student’s life.”

Some highlights of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019:

  • "So You Want to Save the Planet,” 9 a.m.-noon Monday, Nov. 18, in the University Union, Cottonwood Suite. College of Engineering & Computer Science and the nonprofit CleanStart present an “interactive learning journey” for students who are interested in creating a clean-tech business.
  • “Entrepreneurship in Sacramento – State of the Union,” 5:30-7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18, Carlsen Center. Showcasing Sacramento’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, with remarks by Dale Carlsen, and Cameron Law. 
  • “Startups and Educators in Partnership,” 3-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, Carlsen Center. SPARK Regional Venture Competition Demo, Educators’ Forum (participants include Sac State, Los Rios Community College District, Sierra College, UC Davis, University of the Pacific, and Shasta College), and Start-Up, Impact, and Educators Alley. 
  • “Mark Tank Pitch Night,” 5-9 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20, Carlsen Center. Presented by HaneyBiz founder Mark Haney. Winners of Tuesday’s SPARK Regional Venture Competition will be introduced. Registration is required for Mark Tank Pitch Night and can be done online, using the code NOVPITCH.
  • "From Undergrad to CEO,” 10:30 a.m.-noon Thursday, Nov. 21, University Union, Hinde Auditorium. Panelists include Pat McClain, co-founder and senior partner of Allworth Financial; Sandy Malaney, CEO of Big Hairy Dog Information Systems; and Ron Mittelstaedt, former CEO of Waste Connections. 
  • “Developing Wisdom to Manage Emotional Energy in Entrepreneurship,” 1:30-4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, University Union, Hinde Auditorium. The lineup of speakers includes comedian and Emmy winner Jack Gallagher; actress/director Elisabeth Nunziato (“Stolen Moments,” 2013), and three-time Super Bowl champion and former Sacramento State offensive lineman Lonie Paxton, ’00 (Communication Studies), now a marketing manager with GoPro. Presented by the College of Business Administration, College of Continuing Education, and Hornet Athletics. 
  • U-Nite!, 5-9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, Crocker Art Museum, 216 O St., Sacramento. The evening features Sac State’s annual celebration of arts and humanities, with a special session on entrepreneurism and arts management. Free for Sac State students, faculty, and staff.

“Entrepreneurship is experiential, and Global Entrepreneurship Week – through the many pitch events, networking evenings, and informational panels – will serve as the front door to many of our students’ entrepreneurial journeys,” Law said.

*This article was originally posted at Sacramento State News; by Dixie Reid

Ellen is the Director for U.S. Ecosystems with the Global Entrepreneurship Network. Her primary responsibilities include supporting the… About the author