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Carlsen Center to host a robust Global Entrepreneurship Week

Trong Nguyen '72 (Biology), founder of La Bou and other businesses, said skills he has acquired through the Carlen Center have been “very useful," even though he is long established and successful in business and is “an old man.” (Photo courtesy of Trong Nguyen)

Trong Nguyen ’72 (Biology) would seem an unlikely student for Sacramento State’s Carlsen Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which becomes the epicenter of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) in the Sacramento region Nov. 8-12.

GEW, an international celebration of “makers, innovators, and job creators who bring ideas to life,” features more than 30 events scheduled, both in person and virtual. The schedule rivals last year’s GEW, which found the Carlsen Center ranked fourth in the nation for number of events by a partner organization.

“We’re hoping to top the charts again this year in terms of number of events serving students, entrepreneurs, ecosystem-builders, and beyond,” said Cameron Law, Carlsen Center executive director and the community organizer for Sacramento’s GEW.

“Although GEW is just one week, the connections, learnings, and inspiration that is fostered throughout will undoubtedly create positive ripple effects in our community,” Law said.

“Entrepreneurship and ecosystem-building thrive on connectivity and momentum, and I believe GEW does just that as it creates a space for partners to come together and celebrate the role entrepreneurship plays in building a thriving region.”

Nguyen, 72, calls himself a “hacker, innovator, maker, and brewer,” with an impressive record of achievement.

Forty years ago, he parlayed his recipe for buttery French croissants into the La Bou Bakery & Café chain. Later came another culinary success, the popular upscale restaurant Lemon Grass. Nguyen also holds several patents for his inventions.

His latest startup is a product he developed while part of a Lean Innovator cohort at the Carlsen Center.

The “Champagneur” bottle stopper with its patent-pending flow-reducer, he said, prevents carbon dioxide from escaping bottles of sparkling water and champagne/sparkling wine so that future pours are as fizzy as the first – for up to a week. Nguyen plans to price the Champagneur at $29.

“The Carlsen Center has helped me in many ways, teaching me about the entrepreneurial process and matching what the marketplace needs and wants,” Nguyen said. “And I learned how to pitch my product and present it in the right way. The Carlsen Center teaches all of these processes, which are very useful, even for an old man like me.”

GEW brings together entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, researchers, and support organizations such as the Carlsen Center in more than 180 countries to advance economic growth and innovation.

Among the variety of events scheduled for GEW at Sacramento State is the Mentor Sacramento Office Hours Sprint, which is like speed dating for start-up founders in need of expert advice, and 1 Million Cups, which lets entrepreneurs present their early-stage companies to their peers for advice and feedback.

Dana Kivel, professor of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration and former director of Sac State’s Community Engagement Center, will talk about the experience of being a social justice advocate and innovator.

Fay Horwitt, president and CEO of Forward Cities, will present the Sacramento Entrepreneurial State of the Union address.

The Carlsen Center has collaborated with several Sac State colleges to run their own student pitch competitions for ideas and innovations. Students competed for cash awards of up to $1,000 from their colleges.

“Global Entrepreneurship Week serves as a catalyst for many people to start engaging in the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Law said. “I position the week to serve people no matter where they are on their journey, ensuring we have opportunities for people to plug in and get value out of it.”

The four GEW 2021 themes are: Ecosystems (looking at the support around an entrepreneurial scene); Education (including workshops and knowledge transfer); Inclusion (building an ecosystem that is equitable to all who want to participate); and Policy (how to foster ways to limit barriers for entrepreneurs and start them toward success).

Sacramento State’s GEW is sponsored by Western Health Advantage (WHA), which gave the Carlsen Center a $1 million gift in 2019 to facilitate the event’s growth and success.

“WHA is honored to support the Carlsen Center and especially Global Entrepreneurship Week,” said Garry Maisel ’80 (Business Administration-Finance), WHA president and CEO.

“Entrepreneurs are the backbone of America’s economy and will no doubt lead us into a future of innovation and increased prosperity,” he said. “The Carlsen Center’s work in this area is outstanding and in a short time has become nationally recognized as an incubator for young entrepreneurs. I look forward to a robust GEW program in 2021.”


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About Dixie Reid

Dixie Reid has been a writer for Sac State since 2012 after decades as a newspaper reporter. A Texas native with the accent to prove it, Dixie is crazy about “dear friends, big dogs, good books, great food, day trips, baking cookies, California sunshine (and fog), and kind people.”

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