UCI’s Top Research and Information Resources for Student Entrepreneurs

In recent years, UCI has seen a new trend sweep across campus—students from all majors have become increasingly interested in starting their own businesses. Recognizing the opportunity to better support students, UCI Libraries jumpstarted an effort to provide library research and instructional services to meet this growing demand. In 2019, they welcomed Sara Heimann as Innovation and Entrepreneurship Librarian. Her goal? To offer UCI’s entrepreneurial community the tools and information they need to bring their ideas to life.

To introduce student entrepreneurs to the specialized opportunities available to them, we sat down with Sara to discuss her partnership with the ANTrepreneur Center and to highlight some of the amazing resources offered by UCI Libraries.

Q: Can you tell us about your role as Innovation and Entrepreneurship Librarian and your work with the ANTrepreneur Center?

A: In my role, I support the research and information needs of UCI’s innovation and entrepreneurship community, including students, faculty, staff, and community partners. Specifically, I provide one-on-one and team research consultations, teach library workshops, and liaise with relevant campus departments, groups, and programs.

Helping students is one of my main focuses, so partnering with the ANTrepreneur Center has been a great opportunity! I serve as a resource for the ANTrepreneur Center when it comes to research. Jaune Odombrown (ANTrepreneur Center Manager) and the ANTrepreneur Center team refer students to me during the research phase of the entrepreneurial process to learn about the various resources and tools the Libraries has to offer. In turn, I share information about the ANTrepreneur Center in an effort to increase awareness of the programs and services available to student entrepreneurs. 

Q: What do you find most exciting about working with the ANTrepreneur Center?

A: I get to play a small part in helping students turn their ideas into reality by connecting them with the resources and information they need to develop viable ventures. Last year, before the pandemic, I held weekly office hours at the ANTrepreneur Center where I got to meet student entrepreneurs, learn about their ventures, and show them how the Libraries’ resources could help them with their research. I love working with students who are so creative and passionate about their work!

Q: Speaking of the resources available to student entrepreneurs, what are some of the resources that you recommend exploring?

A: A great place to start is with the Entrepreneurship Research Guide. You can think of the Entrepreneurship Research Guide as your online research portal for information that can help at any stage of the entrepreneurial process. The guide serves as a central place for students to access the Libraries’ resources along with helpful information about things like off-campus access (VPN), how to cite your sources, and explanations of entrepreneurship research strategies. I’m constantly updating it with new resources, helpful tips, and other information in an effort to help students research efficiently and effectively.

Students can use the Entrepreneurship Research Guide to find credible information on industries and markets, competitors, funding activity, and use this data to strengthen their assignments, business models, and pitch decks.

Q: Of the resources available through the Entrepreneurship Research Guide, which do you think are most important for UCI’s student entrepreneurs?

A: PitchBook is a database, licensed by the UCI Libraries, that contains data on the private investment market, including venture capital, private equity, and M&A transactions. PitchBook allows students to research and analyze companies, deals, funds, and investors across the entire private investment lifecycle. This data can be used to establish benchmarks, identify competitors, and research investor history and details. It is also especially useful for finding up-and-coming companies in emerging industries.

Q: How does PitchBook work?

A: PitchBook’s advanced search tools allow users to generate custom lists of companies, deals, and investors based on a robust set of criteria, such as industry, location, deal/investor type, and year founded. Company and investor profiles offer valuable insight into funding activity and emerging markets and allow students to answer questions such as “Who might invest in my startup?,” “Who are my up-and-coming competitors?,” and so on.

PitchBook is only available to current UCI affiliates, so students will need to authenticate using their UCInetID and password in order to access the database. Additionally, PitchBook requires users to create their own accounts using their UCI email address. Having your own personal account allows you to save searches and lists and customize the platform according to your preferences. 

Q: What are some of the other key resources UCI Libraries has to offer?

A: In addition to PitchBook, the two resources that I think are most useful for students are IBISWorld and Mintel. These are two of our most popular databases for researching industries and markets, and students often find their reports to be a treasure trove of information!

IBISWorld is an industry research database that has reports on over 1,000 established and specialized industries in the United States. Each report consists of 30 to 40 pages of key statistics and analysis on market characteristics, operating conditions, current and forecast performance, trends, key players, and more. IBISWorld is a great starting point for students, and I always recommend checking out IBISWorld first because the database is simple and easy to navigate and covers a wide range of industries. IBISWorld reports provide students with a high-level overview of an industry without overwhelming them with too much detail. 

Mintel is a market research database specializing in retail and consumer industries in the United States. Mintel reports address prominent brands, trends, and customer decisions. They also give strategic recommendations for companies to improve their market position. With its focus on demographic and behavioral consumer research, Mintel reports provide information that can help students identify target markets as well as offer insight on how to market a product or service to various consumer segments. Students can also use Mintel to evaluate a market’s performance and growth potential.

Students can access both IBISWorld and Mintel from the Entrepreneurship Research Guide. To access Mintel, students will also need to authenticate using their UCInetID and password.

Q: This is a lot of great information! Where can students go to learn more?

A: While students can always explore the Entrepreneurship Research Guide on their own, I encourage them to reach out to myself or the team at the ANTrepreneur Center for more personalized guidance. Students can contact me at sheimann@uci.edu or use the “Schedule Appointment” button on the Entrepreneurship Research Guide’s homepage to book a one-on-one research consultation over Zoom. I look forward to working with student entrepreneurs and introducing all of the ways that UCI is here to support your success!

While UCI is operating remotely amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, students can continue to access UCI Libraries and ANTrepreneur Center resources. To access UCI LIbraries resources off-campus, students must connect to the Virtual Private Network (VPN). For more information on connecting using the VPN, click here. Check out the Entrepreneurship Research Guide here and the ANTrepreneur Center here.