Next Le^el launches at Fresno State

Fresno State students, staff and community members who own or run a stagnated small business have encouraging news—a new program run through the campus will bring business experience and resources to individual companies in the hopes of growth.

At a launch party held Tuesday night in the Smittcamp Alumni House, officials introduced the organization to a crowd of around 25 business owners and employees.

Dubbed Next Le^el, officials said the organization looks to coach businesses that are already established in the process of expansion while combining two key factors.

“This group is really about trying to combine the resources of the university with experience from the business community,” said Glenn Patch, project manager for Next Le^el. “We apply that to businesses, maybe with new ideas, by coaching them on how to grow.”

To do that, Patch said that the organization teamed up with both the Young President’s Organization (YPO), a group comprised of high-level executives younger than 45, and the Lyles Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Fresno State.

“What the Lyles Center is doing is providing professional resources within the community and university,” Patch said. “For instance if there’s a professor out there doing something that needs equipment or whatever it may be we can hook them up with businesses that can provide that need.”

Michael Bouskos, a member of YPO and chief financial officer for Health Comp, a company founded in Fresno with approximately 315 employees in the greater Fresno area, said that YPO would bring the knowledge of getting a fledgling business off the ground.

“I am excited about this as a YPO member and executive,” Bouskos said. “If we had something to this extent when we were growing our business…well, you make a lot of mistakes. It would have been fantastic to have coaches and mentors at the infancy stages to help us.”

Patch, who has more than 25 years of experience in starting and running businesses, echoed that sentiment.

“It’s great to find people with ideas,” Patch said. “But ideas are the easy part. Turning an idea into revenue takes a lot of skills, a lot of diversity, and a lot of different perspectives.”

Because the organization is in its beginning stages, Patch said financial details had yet to be finalized.

“We’re thinking it’ll cost $2,000 a month, for five months,” Patch said. “But we’ll assess differently for each individual company.”

One of Next Le^el’s first clients, Tom DeLany, said he signed up his water conservation company, AquaCents, just 10 days ago.

“We’re humming along just fine in this economy,” DeLany said. “But if you’ve ever owned an old, sputtering Volkswagen— we’re getting to that point where we’re going to have issues and we’d like to see this develop.”

DeLany said he was happy Next Le^el will operate through Fresno State.

“It’s great,” DeLany said. “I’m an old Cal Poly guy but anything that’s local is really good to see.”

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