Businesses Launch with Help of Program at CSN

By Kalani Reyes

Business incubator program at College of Southern Nevada helps students start companies.

Any student at the College who wants to start a business can contact Kevin Raiford, a nationally-recognized business professor at CSN, to get involved in the program he created to encourage entrepreneurialism. Raiford along with other faculty in the business department run this program.

“The first thing we do is provide a format for [students] to be able to start a business,” Raiford said. “Number two, we partner the student up with other young entrepreneurs because starting a business takes a lot of fortitude and determination so it is important that when we have students who come to start a business they don’t give up. The third thing we do is provide a support network with actual businesses that are in their field so they have a formal and informal mentorship.”

Additionally those in the program get assistance with business plans, paperwork submission for licensing and State registrations and some get funds to help them start up. Local businesses including Cox Communications donated money to CSN Foundation and that helped launch the business incubator program, Raiford said.

Sharon Hauht

Sharon Hauht, a CSN student who recently launched a cake decorating business called Happy Trails Kitchen, said, “With CSN’s help I have completed all the paperwork to file for my registration as a limited liability company and for my State of Nevada business license as a sole proprietor. I doubt that I would have taken these next steps to start my own business without the CSN business incubator program.”

“Oftentimes not knowing what the steps are will stop a person from accomplishing a goal but Professor Raiford gave us the tools and directions to make it happen,” Hauht said.

CSN student Maria Haro Salgado said, “I think the business incubator is of great help and guidance. As a computer information technology major I didn’t have much knowledge on business. Most of what I knew was from Web research or from close friends. A friend of mine referred me to Professor Raiford and through the program I have found his guidance very helpful. We are currently working on getting all the licenses needed for our business and getting our brand name out there and I believe this program played a big part in this.”

Since the program’s inception in 2011 there have been 32 businesses that upstarted by CSN students ranging from clothing, streetwear apparel, specialty bakeries, photography and salons, among others, according to Raiford.

One of the first few businesses in the program was the recent winner of this year’s Get Started Las Vegas competition where seven chosen entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to a panel of experts in hopes of winning the competition’s cash prize of $20,000 sponsored by Cox Blue. Former CSN students Medin Gebrezgier, Jonathan Santos and Cesar Santos won for their company Revive Brand Co.

Their company’s staple product is the Game Bag, a carrying bag for a basketball. It was successfully funded on Kickstarter and was featured on ABC’s entrepreneur competition called Steve Harvey’s FUNDERDOME, which aired July 23, 2017, before the Get Started competition where they won the grand prize.

Gebrezgier said his company is enhancing their product lines by adding shirts and apparel in addition to their Game Bag. They are actively marketing their products by engaging high-school students and other organizations including the Las Vegas Girls Youth Basketball league to promote their products while community building.

When asked why CSN is a good school for student entrepreneurs, Gebrezgier said, “Because they meet them where they’re at, speaking from personal experience.”

When asked about future directions of the program, Raiford said, “I see it growing to the point where it becomes expanded where we do a lot more businesses, a lot more activities…where students feel a lot more empowered.” He hopes to get the successful entrepreneurs from the past to come back and work with current student to offer their wisdom and mentorship.

To get involved in the business incubator program contact Raiford at

Raiford with his CSN culinary students

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