A man speaks to a room of people



New businesses created here

Shaping entrepreneurial endeavors

Give to the I-CORPS

people sit and discuss in a group

Tyler Valentine [Political Science, Dec. 2019] thought he had the winning idea, and $20,000 in prize money in the bag when he entered the Bull Ring, a student business competition. He and business partner Adam Rodriguez were planning to use the winnings to launch their venture. When they came in fourth, they didn’t give up; they pivoted.

Tyler and Adam gained the support of I-Corps (Innovation Corps), a program that advances promising STEM and business venture opportunities with a goal of taking ideas to market. I-Corps funds viable businesses, allowing students to conduct customer interviews, beta test programs, and spend time honing their start-ups.

I-Corps has been generously funded by a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. The federal grant provides funds for as many as 30 teams to explore a STEM-related (science, technology, engineering or math) idea, product or service to determine its commercialization potential.

For Tyler, I-Corps has been a game-changer. His new business aims to solve an issue for many college campuses—how to increase graduation rates, engage with commuter students, and reduce student loneliness and depression. The result is TASL, a social network for students that improves their sense of community and belonging to each other and the university.

“The whole premise of I-Corps is to build something that you know people will buy,” Tyler says. “I-Corps gave us funding to conduct customer discovery, a process that incorporates customers early in the development process so we know in advance how much people will pay for TASL before it’s built.”

Funds for I-Corps sustain this program beyond the NSF grant, expanding it to include areas of focus outside of STEM fields. Funding supports student travel for customer discovery, networking events and conferences, and mentorship with industry experts.

Your gift to I-Corps ensures CSUN students have the proper foundation to become successful young entrepreneurs.