Cohorts of MBA students from Fresno and Visalia attended an international conference by Startup Grind (, part of a global startup community that inspires, educates and connects entrepreneurs. In partnership with Google, Startup Grind hosts events in 200 cities, including Fresno, in 85 countries that feature founders, innovators and educators. Trips such as the February 20-22 event in Redwood City, CA, are a regular component of the MBA program, part of the Fresno Pacific University School of Business.

During the conference, more than 50 entrepreneurs shared stories on stages while tents featured startup companies seeking investors and displayed cutting-edge products and services. “Hearing successful entrepreneurs discuss management and leadership practices was a great learning experience since the speakers were open about the many failures they encountered along the way requiring non-stop hard work and great determination,” said Dan Flores, MBA student and controller for Betts Manufacturing. “A key take away for me is to keep on fighting because you could be become a unicorn one day.”

Students heard from well-known entrepreneurs like Eric Yuan (Zoom), Hamdi Ulukaya (Chobani), Sean Rad (Tinder), Vladamir Tenev (Robinhood) and Patrick Collison (Stripe) who taught himself to code at age 10, as well as Ben Horowitz (Andreessen Horowitz) who used the story of Toussiant L’Ouverture, 18-century Haitian patriot, as the example of how to change culture. “The energy, hope, creative and passion is very contagious and could possibly lead one to a higher calling,” said John Stone, MBA student and manager of pharmacies for Save Mart Supermarkets.

The cohorts began their Silicon Valley adventure with a private meeting with Vince Siciliano, CEO of San Francisco-based New Resource Bank. The bank focuses on a triple bottom line of prosperity, the planet and people. His deep faith shapes his daily decisions, making the bank a preferred lender for individuals and companies committed to social and environmental business standards.

The students were accompanied by School of Business faculty Andrea McAleenan, Ph.D., and Andrew Shinn, MBA, who look forward to seeing the original business plans the students will create for their MBA signature project.



Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations