May 15, 2014
David Pese can thank his mother-in-law for helping his high school dream of opening a restaurant become a reality. It was her yummy blend of Indian and Thai foods that helped him create the business plan for Deeya Cuisine, a unique Thai-Indian-Polynesian fusion cuisine.
The Mt. San Jacinto College student’s plan earned him $5,000 in start-up funds from the SOCO Institute during The Competition, MSJC’s first “Shark Tank” style event that allowed eight students to pitch their business ideas on May 5 before a panel of local industry leaders. Pese, 28, of Perris won The Competition and received the award during the MSJC Foundation Scholarship Breakfast on May 15 at the Soboba Country Club. He said the funds will help him open a vendor booth at two festivals this summer and set him on his way to getting a food truck. A brick-and-mortar location is about three years away, he said.
Pese, who works full time, praised his experience during The Competition and at MSJC.
“I like Mt. San Jacinto College a lot better than any other college then I’ve been to before,” he said. MSJC instructors “are definitely more interactive with their students and they are more willing to help you out. I’ve learned so much here.”
The SOCO Institute was one of the presenters during the Scholarship Breakfast. The institute is the charity arm of the SoCo Group, Inc., a petroleum marketer headquartered in Carlsbad, CA. SOCO supports economic growth through special projects.
SOCO partnered with MSJC for the Business Plan Competition. While loosely based on TV shows like “Shark Tank,” the Competition had its own unique format to ensure students get the most out of this learning experience by having community business partners serve on the judging panel.
"This competition is designed to provide MSJC student entrepreneurs a path to develop the foundation of their new or prospective business ventures," said Dr.Caren Hennessy, co-chair of the Business Department at MSJC’s Menifee Valley Campus. “The Business department is proud of all the competition participants. Competition participants were rated on three factors, the presentation, the viability of the business concepts and the written business plan. Mr. Pese excelled in all categories, the presentation was organized and informative; the business plan provided detail especially the Cash Flow Projections; and the judges believed that the $5,000 could be used immediate to launch the business venture.
One of the major goals of The Competition at MSJC is to give students a practical and applied understanding of the pitch meeting process and how entrepreneurs and financiers interact. During the spring semester, student participants were paired with a faculty advisor who coached them throughout the process to understand the elements of a good business plan and how to make a winning pitch.
Associate Professor Belinda Heiden Scott teamed with David and helped him refine his winning business plan.
“It was a joy to work with David Pese as his faculty advisor for the MSJC Business Department Competition,” she said. “Mr. Pese has an innate sense for business logic and is passionate about his business, Deeya.”
Other student participants were:
James Young, of Menifee, pitched his Cookie Tostada. The build-your-own dessert idea for fair-goers also includes a 10 percent donation to community churches.
Nancy DiPeitro presented Nature Supplyhouse. The San Jacinto resident creates a lotion called Scent of Distraction she would like to put on the market.
Brittney Romer, of Hemet, presented Once Upon A Time Events, a full-service event planning company that provides complete consulting services for weddings, quinceañeras, anniversaries and parties.
Mario R. Valerio Jr., of San Jacinto, wants to grow a company called CoCo Uniforms. It sells scrubs, men’s and women’s apparel and household items like soaps, napkins and deodorant.
Team members Hung Dang, Sydney Hunt and Anh Dang pitched SUPERSHADES, offering a manual car shade and a super automatic shade that rolls itself up with the car engine is turned off.
"This project is what Career and Technical Education is all about," Dr. Hennessy said. The mission of MSJC’s Career and Technical Education programs “is to engage, prepare, and educate learners, communities, and employees for careers in a global and competitive workforce.”
The program offers degrees, certificates and specialized programs to enable students to obtain the skills needed to be competitive in today's job market. Courses range from economics to nursing and more. The Competition project will allow faculty to help students become community business owners who may one day reinvest in other students’ businesses and future community projects.
Venture capital is one way to secure funding for a business in the startup phase. Often, venture capital investors will provide cash and other negotiated resources and support in exchange for an equity stake in the company. The Competition will give MSJC students a great way to understand the experience. In future years it is possible many of the students' projects will take shape in one form or another in the Inland Empire and become a vital part of the local economy.