Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I get to learn about people who help mentor and support new and innovative ideas and companies. One of those people is Tim Shaw, special projects lead at UCI Beall Applied Innovation. Let’s see what he is doing to make a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Welcome Tim! You seem to be uniquely positioned to impact the lives of entrepreneurs. Can you tell me what challenges you are addressing to smooth out the path to entrepreneurship?
Tim: I’d love to, Spiffy. UCI Beall Applied Innovation helps brilliant researchers, students, and alumni from the Univerisity of California Irvine (UCI) start companies that can create jobs and better conditions for people all over the world. It’s important that the incredible, groundbreaking research at UCI doesn’t just sit on a shelf if it can make a real-world impact on health, education, clean energy, and the economy. Not everyone knows how to start and grow a company, though. So, we provide the funding, mentoring, and resources that entrepreneurs need at every stage of developing a company.
Spiffy: You’re right! Great ideas shouldn’t just sit on a shelf. What motivated you to help get innovations into the world?
Tim: I started my career in the nonprofit world working to end homelessness. I still do that work, but this allows me to approach the problem of economic development and opportunity for all from a different angle. I see so much suffering and untapped potential due to lack of opportunity. I get up every day excited about using my creativity to collaborate with amazing people about how to increase opportunities for everyone. Plus, it’s super cool to see innovations that will change the world from their very beginnings.
Spiffy: Access to opportunity is key! How else are you working to help make the world a more equitable place?
Tim: UCI is a Hispanic Serving Institution and has programs like Black Thriving Initiative and Latinx Thriving Initiative. We graduate more low-income students each year than the entire Ivy League. Applied Innovation’s Opportunity, Wayfinding & Networking (OWN) initiative ensures resources for low-income, first-generation and underrepresented student, faculty, and staff entrepreneurs. Our Inclusive Entrepreneurship Task Force of campus leaders, students, investors, and entrepreneurs serves as ambassadors to communities often left out of entrepreneurial opportunities.
Spiffy: That sounds phenomenal, Tim. Are there any new or exciting initiatives or milestones at UCI Beall Applied Innovation that you could tell me about?
Tim: Sure! We recently received a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration to expand opportunities for Black and Latinx women entrepreneurs. This is the second grant we’ve received to expand opportunities for women business owners to access millions of dollars in federal support. It’s wrong that only 2.3% of venture capital funds go to startups owned by women. That situation is even worse for Black and Latinx women. This program helps more women access money in the earliest stages for their startup businesses. We’re really excited about the possibilities!
Spiffy: So am I! Can you tell me about a startup or project you’ve worked with that exemplifies the impact you’re striving to make?
Tim: I’m a co-founder and partner with RevHubOC, a social enterprise incubator partnered with UCI Beall Applied Innovation. Social enterprises are normal businesses, but they don’t exist just to make money. They have to have a social mission, too. RevHub partners with UCI and others to help social entrepreneurs build businesses to solve homelessness, create sustainable food systems, address climate change and create jobs for people who want to make a difference in the world in addition to making a living. RevHub wouldn’t be possible without a strong partnership with UCI Beall Applied Innovation.
Spiffy: These kinds of partnerships seem absolutely key! Before we sign off, is there anything else you would love to tell our audience? Maybe some words of wisdom for those who are in doubt about being an entrepreneur?
Tim: You know, Spiffy, some people think entrepreneurship isn’t for them because they didn’t grow up with money and they don’t know how to start a business. I hope you can build the belief that you can be an entrepreneur no matter where you start in life. My family didn’t have a lot of money and I was the first in my family to go to college. But I became an entrepreneur. You can, too! Don’t be afraid to ask for help from successful business owners. You don’t need to be an expert in business. I’m not. You just need to be willing to use your creativity and be open to learning. There are people who will help you. Don’t let fear keep you from pursuing a dream.
Spiffy: That is the most inspiring message I’ve received all month, Tim! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me today. I’m sending this out into the universe for whoever needs to hear it! Over and out.
Tim Shaw is a social entrepreneur committed to building livable and just communities. He manages special projects for UCI Beall Applied Innovation and is a founding partner of RevHubOC. Tim has served as CEO of the Irvine Public Schools Foundation, vice president of Community Relations for Orange County United Way, and executive director of the Orange County Homeless Issues Task Force. He chairs the Orange County Continuum of Care Board, coordinating regional responses to homelessness. (Nominated by TomboyX. First published on the Ladderworks website on December 6, 2021.)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.