Sacramento Eco Fitness is California’s first gym powered entirely by electricity generated by its exercise equipment. Jose Avina launched the business at the end of 2016. An alum of California State University at Sacramento, Avina’s goal is to “one day make eco fitness a household term.”
When I started developing my business, I wish I had known to take better advantage of all the assets that universities offer. It would have made being a startup much easier.
For example, I remember when I’d talk with someone about my business idea. We’d end up meeting in a coffee shop. The person would ask, “Where’s your office?” And I’d have to tell them I didn’t have one.
I’d end up having to spend $800 for a little office just so we could have meetings. That’s money that gets taken away from the initial investment. When you’re a startup, every dollar counts.
About eight months into starting up the gym, I heard about Sacramento State’s Center for Entrepreneurship and its startup leadership program. I couldn’t believe what was available to students and alumni, and it was all free. I lost more than half a year getting ready to launch the business, but I could have spent a lot more time – and money – if the program hadn’t been brought to my attention.
I wish I had known to take better advantage of all the assets that universities offer.
To enter the program, all you have to do is apply and give them your idea. They evaluate it, and if they like the idea, they give you an office and an intern to help you get things started. You get six months of business planning experience, and you can extend it for up to six more.
But there’s a lot more. Tutoring, mentorship, free help with your business plan, computer labs that are available to you in study halls, opportunities for you to just sit down with your staff and have a meeting, even a place for you to meet with potential clients. Someone is walking you through how to start a business, and it’s happening while you’re still in school.
So I wish I would have known all that back then at Sac State. I could have used my business idea as some of my senior class assignments, and get help developing websites and getting placed on social media. I also would have taken courses that could really help me run my business.
I tell anyone I know who has a startup or is thinking of one to take full advantage of what you can from the university. If you feel like you have a good idea for a startup, find this program and submit your idea. What do you have to lose?
Follow Jose Avina on Twitter at @avina_antonio.
Pictured: Jose Avina. | Crain National photo by Alan Naditz.