SRJC Kickstarts New Entrepreneurship Program

Nadav Soroker, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Santa Rosa Junior College redesigned its entrepreneurship program from the ground up into a sleek 12-unit start-up kick-starter, ready to prepare prospective business owners for any challenge they will face. It will be open to SRJC students, local community members and an excited international audience.

Roy Gattinella, a marketing professor, campaigned and worked to redevelop the business program after seeing that the Business Administration Department suffered from conflicting ideas being taught to students. He started composing a new program that came together with a soft introduction in the fall.

The program consists of 12 units worth of business and marketing classes combining into a single-semester “boot camp.” Students leave with a business plan, a marketing plan and what Gattinella stressed, knowing when to do something yourself and when to hire a professional.

Gattinella is excited for the program. “All kinds of crazy stuff is going on in the world of entrepreneurship and we want our students to be part of it,” he said.

Colleges across the country have already put together similar programs, though many are part of a graduate program, and SRJC incorporated some of the best parts to create a shorter program designed for the small business entrepreneur thriving in Sonoma County.

Sonoma County has a strong run of entrepreneurs such as the three sustainable beverage companies highlighted at the last SRJC INOV8 conference: Revive Kombucha, Guayaki Yerba Mate and Traditional Medicinals. Eighty-four percent of Sonoma County businesses employ nine employees or less, creating a tradition and environment ripe for the rise of small businesses.

The program is designed for those receiving a vocational certificate from SRJC who want to create a new business, high school students who have graduated from entrepreneurship programs, community members or anyone else getting ready to pursue a start-up and an interested international community who wants to find the entrepreneurial spark that California fosters so well.

Peg Saragina, Director of International Programs, worked with a number of international schools in Scandinavia and elsewhere. Three Scandinavian business colleges already have Memorandums of Understanding with SRJC, including the SvenEriksons Gymnasium in Boras, Sweden, which sent 19 students here for this spring semester.

They are all interested in sending more students to learn from California entrepreneurs, and develop their ideas in the entrepreneurship program.

“They want to know why is it that you think that way,” Saragina said.

Recently at SRJC a number of administrators from Scandinavia including representatives of five schools and the Danish Agency for Universities and Internaitionalism came to learn more about the program. According to Saragina they were all very excited both with the program and SRJC itself.

Gattinella is going to spend his fall sabbatical touring Scandinavian colleges and other countries yet to be decided on, pitching the program to the places he visits.