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Sonoma State University showcases student entrepreneurs

  • Sonoma State University student Corynne Scott applies clown makeup for her business performing at children's parties, on April 4, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

During the week, Corynne Scott is a Sonoma State University music student. On the weekends, she is Gumdrop the Clown. Or Snow White. Or Cinderella. Or whatever your eight-year-old wants at her birthday party.

Scott, 22, is also her own accountant, human resources director and secretary. After working for a party entertainment company for a few years, she launched Gumdrop Parties Entertainment a year ago because she wanted to be her own boss.

“It's less stressful being in charge,” she said. “I definitely want to look into ways to grow my business. I'd like to know more about the business side.”

Corynne Scott

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Scott is one of a number of entrepreneurs getting advice from a new, unique student-run business incubator at Sonoma State University called Entreprenoma.

The group helps student entrepreneurs from all disciplines promote their businesses through workshops, competitions and exhibitions, said Kirsten Ely, the founder of Entreprenoma and an SSU professor of entrepreneurship and accounting.

“We're supporting student entrepreneurs by providing programs that teach them how to start a business,” she said. “We think this is new and revolutionary.”

The group on Tuesday is hosting its first Market Day, an event giving SSU students the chance to showcase their businesses and sell their products and services. Robert Brunner, chief designer of Beats by Dre, the maker of stylish headphones, is the keynote speaker.

Scott will be at Market Day promoting her party business alongside student artists, photographers, clothing designers and disk jockeys.

Some of the student-founded start-ups are inventive. Josh Disbrow co-founded a company called Eye Guide, which makes a system to alert visually impaired people of obstacles in their path.

The prototype is a headset with ultrasonic sensors that detect obstacles and emit a warning noise to the wearer.

Disbrow, 22, an electrical engineering student, said Entreprenoma helps his colleagues and him learn how to turn a business idea into a marketable product.

“It would be nice to get to the point where we can see it move towards an actual product that we can sell,” he said. “We want to see how people respond to this.”

Business student Patrick Maloney, the chief operating officer of Entreprenoma, said the group is excited to support student-run businesses at Market Day.

“Our students are doing all sorts of good stuff,” he said. “We work to shed light on it and celebrate what they are doing.”

(You can reach Staff Writer Matt Brown at 521-5206 or matt.brown@pressdemocrat.com.)

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