Building a Business with UCI’s ANTrepreneur Center

For Jenelle King, a third-year civil engineering major and former athlete at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), the idea of building a business that united her academic and personal interests was an exciting proposition. After considering her possibilities, she decided to pursue a business dedicated to manufacturing sports equipment. 

She explains, “I used to run track, but since I’m unable to compete anymore, I wanted to find a way to contribute to the sport. I decided to focus on this business idea because it relates to my current major.”

Specifically, Jenelle was interested in creating a sports equipment manufacturing company that produced a variety of equipment to support athletes across different sports. Her main goal with the company is to increase access to necessary gear. 

Jenelle notes, “It’s mainly creating different types of equipment for different sports so all athletes have access to them and are able to use them.”

While Jenelle had a clear idea of what she wanted her business to do, she wasn’t sure how to translate her ideas into an actual business plan. Fortunately, she was able to turn to UCI’s ANTrepreneur Center for guidance.

Since 2014, the ANTrepreneur Center has been helping UCI’s student entrepreneurs, or “ANTrepreneurs,” as they explore the process of developing, launching, and managing their own businesses. Run by manager Jaune Odombrown, the ANTrepreneur Center’s mission is to promote innovative thinking and support students with educational materials, professional resources, skill-building workshops, networking opportunities, and much more. 

Currently, Jenelle is in the research stage of the entrepreneur process. Working with Jaune and the rest of the ANTrepreneur team, she is conducting relevant research to support her business idea. This includes investigating specifics about her business plan, studying other businesses in her target industry, and identifying potential markets for her products.

While she is still in the beginning phases of her entrepreneurial journey, the ANTrepreneur Center team has offered Jenelle the direction she needs to move forward with her plans. Speaking on her experience working with the ANTrepreneur Center, Jenelle reports, They have been really helpful in this process. I don’t think I would be able to get this far without the ANTrepreneur Center because I didn’t know where to start in creating a business.’

Helping students begin their entrepreneur journey is something that Jaune feels passionately about. As someone who had to learn and experiment with launching and running businesses on his own, Jaune understands how important it is for entrepreneurs to receive support at the outset of the process.

He explains, “We want to empower our students so they can achieve future business success. Oftentimes, this means providing guidance and a system of support that students can rely on. We want to be there from the very start, so they know that they can turn to us for advice, resources, and whatever else they might need along the way.”

While the idea of starting your own business while still in college seems overwhelming, Jenelle says the ANTrepreneur Center offers a welcoming atmosphere and a straightforward plan for developing ideas. This has made the whole process of building a business plan more approachable.  

Jenelle says, “Jaune has been really helpful and everybody there has been very nice and polite. Now I have a clearer vision of the steps I need to take to create this business.”

With all the support and guidance she has received from the ANTrepreneur Center team, Jenelle encourages other UCI students to stop by and explore the process of becoming an entrepreneur. 

“I know most students may not know how to start a business from the ground up, so it’s a very good place to start. We may think we know what business is but, in reality, we don’t. I think the ANTrepreneur Center is a very good place to start.”

If you are a UCI student Interested in kickstarting your entrepreneurial journey or learning more about the services offered by the ANTrepreneur Center, then visit their website here or connect with Jaune directly at jodombro@uci.edu. You can also schedule an appointment by emailing the UCI ANTrepreneur Center at antrepreneur@uci.edu or by filling out this form.