Entrepreneur-in-residence and UC Riverside instructor Jay Gilberg has enjoyed using the Creat’R Lab to mentor aspiring innovators who are part of the NSF I-Corps Startups for Innovators Program at UCR.
“I love helping people to achieve their dreams by creating a business,” Gilberg explained. “It’s important to nurture entrepreneurship in a university setting. The average person at a university is brighter and their ideas are more original and creative and perhaps more world-changing than the people who are just trying to create their own job.”
Through mentoring, he also wants to set the record straight on what the path to entrepreneurship really looks like. “There’s so much misconception and misrepresentation on TV about what goes into starting a business. You don’t start out doing something like Shark Tank,” Gilberg chuckled. “Startups are a lot of work. I’ve done a few of them, and it’s not for the lazy.”
In 2009, Gilberg sold his staffing industry company ABCOW Services, Inc., which he had built from the ground up and grown into an Inc. 500 company, a designation granted to the 500 fastest-growing, privately owned companies in the US over a five-year period. Currently, he owns a real estate business, in addition to his work with UC Riverside.
Gilberg sees the Creat’R Lab as the on-campus starting point for students who are interested in dipping a toe into UCR’s entrepreneurial culture, a place where people from all fields of study can mix and mingle to forge new relationships that support innovation, exploration, and collaboration.
Recently, Gilberg, Interim Director of EPIC (Entrepreneurial Proof of Concept and Innovation Center) Mark Leibowitz, and entrepreneur-in-residence Alexandra Orozco have decided to offer weekly “ask an expert” drop-in office hours in the Creat’R Lab’s Mentoring Room for students who think they have an idea worth exploring. In the near future, Gilberg hopes to see the Creat’R Lab enhance its technology to facilitate live group webinars with off-campus guest experts and distance mentoring.
If students enjoy their experience at the Creat’R Lab, then Gilberg says their next step in the entrepreneurial journey at UCR could be the Startups for Innovators workshop, which he teaches with Leibowitz to bridge the gap from theory to practice in business development.
UCR's NSF I-Corps program was established in 2017 thanks to a $500,000 five-year grant awarded to Associate Vice Chancellor for Technology Partnerships Rosibel Ochoa and Interim Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development Gillian Wilson by the National Science Foundation. Before coming to UCR, Gilberg, Leibowitz and Ochoa had previously worked together at UC San Diego’s I-Corps site.
After completing the I-Corps workshop or other academic coursework, Gilberg explained, students can apply to work with either EPIC, which provides one-on-one mentoring with the entrepreneurs in residence, or ExCITE, a 6-12 month accelerator program that nurtures new technology startups and creates more high-tech jobs in the county of Riverside.
The Creat’R Lab opened in Orbach Science Library in April 2017.