On January 31, UC Merced Career Services Department launched the “Conversations with Entrepreneurs” speaker series, and introduced the participants of the Mobile App Challenge.
Career Services created the “Conversations with Entrepreneurs” speaker series as a forum for eminent guest speakers, where they can share their experiences from the world of entrepreneurship with both students and the greater UC Merced community. Guest speakers come from sectors such as tech, media, entertainment, and business.
The UC Merced Mobile App Challenge is a student mobile device and social media application contest to promote innovation across campus.
“UC Merced seeks to foster the entrepreneurial spirit of our students through the Challenge by encouraging the development of new applications for mobile devices and social media platforms,” as organizers of the contest indicated. Participants of the Contest compete to receive part of a $2,500 grand prize.
Supporters of the Mobile Contest, however, will receive their own prize, in the form of meaningful sponsorship offerings, including “visibility and recognition of company logo on print materials, press releases, web sites within the competition, physical company presence at the final presentation and access to resumes of participants.”
The initiation of the Series was marked with the presence of Dan Gordon, Co-Founder of Gordon Biersch Brewery and widely considered one of America's leading brewing engineers. After graduating from UC Berkeley, Gordon became the first American in more than 40 years to graduate from the prestigious 5-year Brewing Engineering Program at the prestigious Technical University of Munich in Weihenstephan, Germany.
During his lecture, Gordon recalled many times that he “lived off nothing.” Likewise, he remembers facing opposition and criticism during the initial project. As a recent graduate, his lack of credibility in the business world brought challenges, such as estimating the high cost of the company and facilities.
However, Gordon claimed that such experiences helped him to start the company with no fear to fail or loose investments. In 1988, Gordon and his partner Dean Biersch opened the first brewery restaurant in Palo Alto, California.
As an undergraduate student, Gordon had the opportunity to be part of a study abroad program in Germany, where he expanded his cultural knowledge of the beer industry. As he directed to the audience, he emphasized the importance of studying abroad, no matter the career. Now, part of his job, he says it is “to supervise the state-of-the-art brewing” and bottling in Gordon Biersch facilities, which includes tasting beer from the industrial tanks on a daily basis. Gordon shared with his audience his passion and excitement when creating all the recipes for each of the company’s beers, which he claims have a “unique flavor not found in any other beer.” Finally, he accentuated that Gordon Biersch products are made for quality consumption, rather than quantity production model found in cheap beers.
A UC Merced Trustee, Chairman of Gray Cloud Technology, and creator of the Mobile App Contest, Rani Yaday-Ranjan, served as the moderator of the event. Yaday-Ranjan shared his personal interest in giving back to the community through this contest, while working to bring back a more employable America.
Throughout the event, the Mobile App Contest Participants were able to present their projects and receive feedback from the successful entrepreneur with an additional audience of about 120 students.