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Sunday, December 10, 2023

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SDSU’s Lavin Entrepreneurship Center and the Zahn Innovation Platform Launchpad were launched with significant gifts to The Campaign for SDSU. SDSU’s Lavin Entrepreneurship Center and the Zahn Innovation Platform Launchpad were launched with significant gifts to The Campaign for SDSU.

Campaign Impact: Entrepreneurship Initiatives

With donor support, SDSU ranks as a top entrepreneurial university.
By SDSU News Team

Innovative thinking and creative problem solving are skills highly prized by employers looking to hire recent college graduates. Whether these talents translate into new products or simply new ways of thinking, they signal an entrepreneurial mindset—the kind cultivated at San Diego State University.

SDSU’s Lavin Entrepreneurship Center and the Zahn Innovation Platform (ZIP) Launchpad work individually and collaboratively to help students turn their entrepreneurial ambitions into marketable realities. Both programs were launched with significant gifts to The Campaign for SDSU and have already fostered dozens of startups.

Not only are these programs benefiting students; they have also garnered SDSU national acclaim. The university is ranked among the top 25 most entrepreneurial colleges by Forbes, Fortune and U.S. News and World Report magazines.

“Innovative thinking is essentially imperative in today’s world; hence SDSU offers students countless opportunities to develop the entrepreneurial mindset needed for lifelong success and achievement,” said Chukuka Enwemeka, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “Thanks to our generous donors, the university has become a launchpad for entrepreneurial talent in Southern California.”  

The history

In 2012, Leonard Lavin, former chair of the company Alberto Culver, endowed SDSU’s Entrepreneurship Center, which was then renamed for him. Lavin’s gift helped to expand the scope of the center with new programs such as a speakers series, an entrepreneur-in-residence program and a micro- venture fund for student startups.

The ZIP, originally named the Zahn Innovation Center, was created with gifts from the Moxie Foundation and Irwin Zahn, founder of General Staple Company, which later expanded as Autosplice, Inc. The ZIP Launchpad helps SDSU students, faculty and staff from all disciplines to launch successful startups.

Both programs are scheduled to move into the Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences Complex when construction is completed in 2018.

Success squared

Junior Allison Langley developed her tech company, Chrysalis, in the Zahn Innovation Launchpad. Chrysalis’ product is a skin monitoring system designed to empower individuals to track changes over the surface of their bodies and aid physicians in the early detection of skin cancer. Langley took top prize in the 2016 Zahn Challenge.

Students mentored in the Lavin Center have launched successful companies such as SOLO Eyewear and Power Digital Marketing. The center was honored in 2016 for “Exceptional Activities in Entrepreneurship Across Disciplines” by the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers. Among its notable successes is the creation of an entrepreneurship minor available to students in all SDSU colleges.

Proven results

Through the ZIP Launchpad and Lavin Center, budding Aztec entrepreneurs can take advantage of a unique blend of coursework and experiential learning opportunities. Many students have launched companies prior to graduation, while others gain experience in the business world before creating their own startups.

Successful SDSU entrepreneurs include:
The Campaign for SDSU began in 2007 as an effort to generate philanthropic support for SDSU students, faculty, staff and programs. More than 68,000 donors have contributed to help SDSU surpass its campaign goal of $750 million and move toward $800 million.