FORTIS and Kira Bruno Recognized at Center for Entrepreneurship’s 10th Anniversary Celebration

It was a great honor for both FORTIS Resource Partners and Kira Bruno to be recognized at the 10th Anniversary Celebration for the Center for Entrepreneurship.

A little bit more about the center…

Founded during the Fall semester of the 2001-02 school year by Dr. Michael Ames, the Center for Entrepreneurship is a self-sustaining entity funded through program fees, individual donations and corporate sponsorships. In the Entrepreneurship Program we have 180 full time and part time students studying Entrepreneurship as a major and 44 students minoring in Entrepreneurship. We also have 15 MBAs who are concentrating in Entrepreneurship.

Each of these students is taking on a huge task by studying Entrepreneurship at CSUF because the courses in the Entrepreneurship Program require a massive time commitment. In each course in the Entrepreneurship Program there is a semester long project. In two successive courses students form teams and create a business plan and then in the next semester they launch that business. The other Entrepreneurship courses feature semester long student consulting projects where our students develop reports to help local businesses improve in various areas including: operations, marketing, accounting and leadership.

For each class volunteers are need to coach our student teams. These volunteers have extensive business knowledge and each of them selflessly give dozens of hours of their time every semester to help guide our students through these semester long projects. Others volunteer their time for special projects the Center for Entrepreneurship undertakes.

The celebration event…

That is why on Wednesday, May 30th the Center for Entrepreneurship celebrated its 10th Anniversary with all of those people who make the Entrepreneurship Program such a vital part of CSUF and the local business community. In attendance were volunteers, Board Members, students, alumni, professors, CSUF staffers, local businesspeople, scholarship winners and assorted family members.

Networking was the first part of this event and was a good opportunity to catch up with those who hadn’t seen each other in a while. During the networking portion a couple of our student entrepreneurs showcased their wares. Diana Ho of Diana Ho Designs showed off her handcrafted shoes and Chris Aaron handed out his delicious kettle corn.

And the awards…

After that we dove into the presentation of awards. Each of the volunteers in attendance was presented with a certificate and personally thanked for their service. Dave Kinnear was singled out as the 2012 Volunteer of the Year for his exemplary dedication to the Entrepreneurship Program at CSUF. All of our volunteers are great people and we sincerely thank them for their contributions.

Next we recognized two of our most successful student consulting teams. Each year our program enters two of our student consulting projects into the Small Business Institute’s competition. Over 200 universities are a part of the SBI consulting process and our MBA entrant won 3rd place on the national level and our undergraduate team won the national competition.

Dr. Dmitry Khanin led the graduate team to third place nationally with their project forConnection III Entertainment. John Bradley Jackson, professor and Director for the Center for Entrepreneurship, led the undergraduate team to the national championship with their project for Fortis Resource Partners. CEO Kira Bruno ’89 was in attendance for the award presentation and Chuck Pavia was the team’s volunteer coach.

Next, Dr. David Obstfeld, one of our great Entrepreneurship professors, presented the Steve Keller Memorial Scholarship funded by Bill Bemus to Diana Ho (she had a busy day!).

After that, a special award sponsored by volunteer Jack Hayden was presented by Dr. Atul Teckchandani, another one of our great Entrepreneurship professors. The recipient of this award was the student team called Titan Motor Sports and it is for one of the team members to travel to a national competition. Titan Motor Sports is a special team that was created to partner up with a CSUF team comprised of Computer Science and Engineering students who have created an open wheel racing vehicle for a national competition. Titan Motor Sports’ contribution is an excellent business plan that is a crucial part of the competition. Good luck guys!

Next, Jerry Conrey presented the Conrey Insurance Brokers and Risk Managers Entrepreneurial Scholarship to Brian Fainzimer (Incidentally, Brian has some great pictures of the event. Check them out.) After that, the State Farm Scholarship, sponsored by Ellen Williams, was presented to Samantha Stuber.

A group of awards was presented to three of our students. Michael Sawitz, volunteer and client of our student consulting services, has created a Business Incubator that helps early stage companies grow by providing them with space, contacts and coaching. Thanks to his connections with our Entrepreneurship Program Michael decided to award tuition in his Business Incubator,, to three groups.

The second runner up, was Thank Skinz, founded by Shawn Way, who was the winner of our inaugural Business Plan Competition. The first runner up was StatRev Legal, founded by Laura Schmitt. And the winner of the one year, all inclusive Accelerator Program valued at $54,000 was Gamer Comps, co-founded by Steve Schoenhals. In total, $69,000 worth of tuition in Fast.Start.studios was awarded. That’s an amazing gift, thank you Michael!

Concluding the proceedings Director Jackson thanked all of the faculty including: Dr. David Obstfeld, Dr. Atul Teckchandani, Dr. Dmitry Khanin, Robart Kovacev, Zack Dafallah, Tom Miller, Barbara Samara, Guy Knuf and Brent Evans. Director Jackson also recognized the amazing contributions of Charlesetta Medina who is responsible for acquiring all of the clients for the Entrepreneurship Program and me, Travis Lindsay, for doing most of the administrative tasks for the Center for Entrepreneurship.

Want to get involved…

If you want to become a part of our award winning program you can learn more about becoming a mentor by contacting us at and if you are considering hiring a CSUF Student Consulting Team go here.

(Credit for this article goes to CSUF. This post was an excerpt from the original article posted here.)

What do you think of the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act?

This is a guest post from Kimberly A. Porrazzo at Wobwire. Be sure to check out this great site for Women Owned Business.  


Earlier this week President Barack Obama signed into law the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act 2010 (H.R. 5297). The bill aims to boost small business – the sector most agree is the economic engine of this country – by providing incentives and tax credits. Good news for most small businesses, although some say the bill is just another hit to our already strained budget.

Whatever your position, the new legislation has some hard-to-ignore benefits. They include:

– $30 billion in funds that will be funneled to community banks to lend to small business, thus easing the credit crunch

– Higher loan limits for SBA loans and loan fee waivers

– 100% capital gains tax exclusions for those investors that fund small business ventures

– Double the allowable deduction for startup expenses, from $5K to $10K

– Allows self-employed individuals to deduct their own health insurance costs

It’s time to get your tax accountant involved because there are more technical tax incentives than this blogger can adequately explain (or understand!).

So, what do women business owner think? How will this impact their businesses?

Kira Bruno, president, Fortis Resource Partners

Kira Bruno says that the type of business you run will determine if you will benefit from the the legislation.

“There is not much in this Act for me as a small business owner of an employee intensive business,” says Bruno. ” Companies that are more asset intensive will have a greater benefit from this new tax law. The cell phone is a small benefit, but most people have been disregarding the listed property rules anyway. The new equipment, etc. rules will help companies that buy assets to grow their businesses.

On another note, and something that is not part of the new federal law, my company gains the greatest benefit from hiring individuals that have been out of work more than 6 months; we get a new employee tax credit on the federal side and if we have net greater wages as a result of new employees on our total payroll over prior year we gain a tax credit on the state side.”

Cathy Daugherty, owner, Trademark Insurance

Cathy Daugherty suggests those that are impressed with the increase in SBA loan limits should check the latest statistic about the amount of SBA money NOT taken currently because of the strict bank regulations. She calls this ” … a frequent PR opportunity” by the Feds to raise the amount offered to the SBA. ” It really does not matter,” she says.

Second, Daugherty stresses that while credit may be easier to obtain, “I still need to consider paying it back with current business volume (which is) very unstable.”

If you’re a woman business owner, what are your thoughts?

Proud to be a Big for a Day! – Supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County

As a business owner and community leader, I am very proud of my association with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County, where I serve on the board and had the chance to mentor a little for a day. You can see a picture of us here. 

Last week Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County held its 3rd annual “Doorways” mentor recruitment event. It was a big success and since it was a hot day, the water rides became a main attraction.  Check out the group shot of all the littles.

The event is designed to match business and community leaders with children waiting to be mentored through Big Brothers Big Sisters. The event also coincided with a Facebook campaign aimed at increasing awareness about the need for mentors and donors for the program.  Users who become a “fan” of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County at will receive special discount offers from all participating partners.  Big Brothers Big Sisters matches adult mentors with children in need. 

Additional volunteers and donors are always welcome; call (714) 544-7773 or visit

You can also check out the video from last year’s Doorway event

A special thank you to our event sponsors Panda Express, Knott’s Berry Farm, Aquarium of the Pacific, Wahoo’s Fish Tacos and Wienerschnitzel.

20 year anniversary: – love what you do!

It’s hard to believe that I stepped lightly and yet seriously into this profession 20 years ago today: November 6, 1989. Lightly, because I was excited about my first job, and seriously, because it was my first job.  Little did I know how much I would enjoy this industry, make an impact in it, and now 20 years later actively lead my own company.Kira

Being involved in this service industry I am proud of our core values and how they line up to serve others.  Some critical things that I have discovered over the twenty years are that success comes down to two things: our relationship with all parties involved and providing exceptional service with the willingness to do what it takes to get the job done right and to do it that way consistently every time.

This profession has been and still is at many firms notorious for the long hours that staffing firms require.  I know, I lived it.   I am excited to provide an environment where our colleagues can lead well balanced and purposeful lives.  Working to eliminate stress and pressure helps us provide and deliver the highest levels of service and top talent. 

Enjoying what you do in your profession is very important and knowing that it fulfills your life’s purpose is icing on the cake.  I go to work every day, loving what I do…I have found that I am a living example of when you love your work, you will never work another day in your life.  Part of what we do at FORTIS is help others find that perfect role, that they will enjoy, find purposeful, and fulfilling. 

Through understanding our clients, we are able to provide professionals that are perfectly suited for their companies.  We add value to their departments and assist them in succession planning at all levels. In the end we add tremendous value and simply make everyone’s lives easier.

All success lies at the heart of relationships.  Over the years as I served as a consultant, recruiter and executive in the staffing industry I have come to the conclusion that nothing is more valuable than the relationship with your clients, candidates and colleagues.  Focusing on the relationship is the foundation upon which FORTIS was created.  I am happy to say that my years of experience have led me to places where I can confirm this time and again.  I look forward to my continued years of service to those who call upon us to impact their lives and their companies.