Starting Fall Quarter 2021, the University of California, Irvine (UCI) ANTrepreneur Center is launching a special speaker series highlighting the opportunities, challenges, and lessons learned from running family businesses. Open to UCI campus and community members, the Family Business Network will invite alumni and local entrepreneurs to speak about their experiences taking over or launching their family-run businesses.

“The goal of this series is to dispel the perception that there’s no upward trajectory for family businesses,” says Jaune Odombrown, Manager of the UCI ANTrepreneur Center. “We want our students to hear from the business owners themselves so they can get real-life insight on what it’s like to build, grow, and succeed as a family.”

The Family Business Network illustrates the UCI ANTrepreneur Center’s commitment to helping students explore the various entrepreneurship opportunities available to them. Located on UCI’s campus, the UCI ANTrepreneur Center offers a wide variety of services, resources, programs, and mentorship opportunities to students who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs. The Center is a collaborative effort between the UCI’s Division of Undergraduate Education and UCI Beall Applied Innovation, a department that aims to connect UCI innovators and entrepreneurs with the local business community.

Odombrown explains that the idea for this new program grew out of an interview he conducted with a UCI alumna who had left a position at one of the top investment corporations in the country to launch her own business. After hearing her story and learning more about the process of building a family business, Odombrown knew that these were important conversations to have at UCI. He says: 

“We want to communicate to students that family businesses are powerful. They are just as important to the entrepreneur ecosystem as these high-growth companies. It’s important that we discuss the value of family-run businesses and encourage students to consider building and sustaining their own.”

With support from community and business leader Carol Choi and UCI Beall Applied Innovation, the UCI ANTrepreneur Center plans to host guest speakers every two weeks starting in September 2021. Family Business Network events will take place in person with a live streaming component that will allow all interested members of the UCI and local communities to tune in as well.

Speaking on the importance of backing this new program, Matt Hanson, Director of New Ventures at UCI Beall Applied Innovation, notes:

“According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, approximately 90% of all businesses in the U.S. are family-owned or controlled businesses, making up over one-third of the Fortune 500. Such businesses create generational wealth and pass on business skills, insight, and wisdom. This is why it’s so important to spotlight these businesses that are crucial to our local economy and quality of life.” 

According to Michael Dennin, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning and Dean of Undergraduate Education, the Family Business Network represents the Center’s commitment to providing diverse learning opportunities:

“The UCI undergraduate experience isn’t just about learning complicated mathematical theorems or studying samples in a lab. One of our central goals as a campus is to offer educational experiences that prepare students for life post-graduation. The ANTrepreneur Center is dedicated to offering students practical training that empowers them to go off and become successful in the world of business. The new Family Business Network exemplifies this and reminds students that there are countless pathways that lead to entrepreneurial success.”

More information on the UCI ANTrepreneur Center’s Family Business Network will be released as we get closer to the start of Fall Quarter 2021. For the latest news and updates, check the UCI ANTrepreneur Center website here and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.