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Students Foster On-Campus Innovation with CELL

February 14, 2014 9:17 AM

Students Foster On-Campus Innovation with CELL

A five-panel cap from Marketing student Darren Fong's clothing line, Off the Map SF.When Darren Fong borrowed his mom's vintage sewing machine to customize the brim of a hat, he had no seamstress experience, no intention of making money, and no idea that his creation would become a legitimate, thriving business. Only one year later, the Sonoma State student is selling handcrafted hats, shirts and sweatshirts all across the world with his clothing line, "Off the Map SF."

Inspired to help fellow student entrepreneurs achieve similar success, Fong joined the student arm of Sonoma State's Community for Entrepreneurial Leadership and Learning (CELL), a new campus movement with a mission to foster innovation in everyday endeavors across campus, the surrounding community and the North Bay Area. Through cross-disciplinary programs and partnerships, like providing student entrepreneurs with assistance and resources, CELL's goals are to support entrepreneurial careers, infuse entrepreneurial thinking in education and accelerate entrepreneurial action in the community (see sidebar for more).

"Our generation of students is graduating into a world and society that requires you to think more innovatively - taking risks, leveraging passions and pursuing hobbies," said Patrick Maloney, student lead of CELL. "It's not just for people who want to start a business. It's about thinking from different angles or perspectives, rather than what traditionally makes sense."

Maloney and Fong are working with the rest of the CELL student board to determine what types of services they can offer for student entrepreneurs seeking support.

"I've had my hands in every aspect of my business, from designing, manufacturing, marketing and shipping my products," said Fong. "There have been a few problems I've run into in the course of my business, but I learn from every single one. My experience makes it easy to think of what other student entrepreneurs would need help with for their businesses."

Over the past year, the students of CELL have partnered with local entrepreneurs, Sonoma State alumni and other organizations to demonstrate and inspire creativity, taking risks and pursuing passions.

The CELL student team wants to make it clear that entrepreneurship can apply to anyone. "Entrepreneurialism isn't just for business students - it's for art majors, science majors, math majors and everyone else," said Fong. "It's all about having an entrepreneurial mindset."

Maloney has big plans in the works for this semester, including student innovation awards, a Market Day to showcase student businesses, and a storefront in the Student Center to sell student-made products and creations such as items from Fong's clothing line.

As of right now, Maloney and the team are learning from their own successes and failures, taking risks to create a truly unique entrepreneurial community on campus.

"We want to see SSU as a center for innovation and entrepreneurial incubation throughout the North Bay," said Maloney. "There are new, exciting things coming out of SSU."

Interested in joining CELL? Find them on Facebook and learn more about Market Day.

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1801 East Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park, CA, 94928 • 707-664-2377 16931