Campus Resources Support Student Entrepeneurs

Alister Shirazi (’12, Economics) recently opened a repair business in Arcata for cell phones and wireless devices, thanks in part to support he received through HSU.

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Alister Shirazi (’12, Economics) recently opened a repair business for cell phones and wireless devices, thanks in part to support he received through HSU.

Located on G Street, the iPhone Surgeon provides iPhone, iPad, iPod and cellular phone repairs and accessories. Shirazi opened the store last month after winning $5,000 from Economic Fuel, the annual competition that awards business seed money to local students and recent graduates. Along the way, he took advantage of various campus resources for aspiring entrepreneurs.

A San Diego native, Shirazi always had an interest in business and a knack for electronic device repair. Last year, he began offering repairs to HSU students, faculty and the community, advertising his services through fliers, the Internet and word-of-mouth. He met customers at coffee shops and other local establishments.

“It was difficult because I didn’t have a physical space to meet people,” Shirazi recalls.

One of his earliest clients was Ann Johnson-Stromberg, communications manager for the Northern California Small Business Development Center region at Humboldt State.

“Anytime I come across a student who is motivated and interested in entrepreneurial pursuits, I try to help them out,” Johnson-Stromberg says. The SBDC is a national program that provides free mentoring and support to local entrepreneurs and small businesses. She told Shirazi he would make a competitive candidate for Economic Fuel and encouraged him to meet with a business mentor from the Eureka chapter of the SBDC.

Over the course of several months, Shirazi and his mentor worked together to draft and hone a winning business plan for Economic Fuel. He won $5,000 in business seed money from the competition this spring.

“Sometimes all I do is give a student a nudge in the right direction and something brilliant happens,” Johnson-Stromberg says. “That’s what happened in the case of Alister.”

Shirazi credits part of his success to that initial nudge he received from Johnson-Stromberg, and to support he received from his professors in the Department of Economics.

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Shirazi’s business logo — a simple black and white design with an iPhone — now adorns the exterior of his store at 1642 G Street.

At one point, he was struggling between two business logos. He reached out to marketing professor Sarita Ray Chaudhury, who agreed to help him decide which design would have a stronger impact.

“That is one of the things that I love about being an economics major at HSU,” Shirazi says: “Your professors take a vested interest in you.”

The logo — a simple black and white design with an iPhone — now adorns the exterior of his store at 1642 G Street. For more information on the iPhone Surgeon, visit https://www.facebook.com/iPhoneSurgeon.

Humboldt State provides various resources for aspiring business students. The HSU Entrepreneurs Club helps support and develop aspiring entrepreneurs. Advised by Business Professor Nancy Vizenor, the club partners with the Humboldt County Office of Education on Decade of Difference, a ten year initiative designed to prepare youth to become contributing members of the economy. In the spring, club members provide business plan mentoring to local high school students. The club also provides elevator pitch feedback to Economic Fuel contestants. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/eclubhsu.