The REC Innovation Lab

REC Logo| The REC Innovation Lab

At the REC, we strive to increase the accessibility of resources, especially in underrepresented portions of the population.  We believe that we can increase opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds to launch startups and become wealthy, thereby disrupting cycles of poverty and wealth inequality. 


All people should have access to cutting-edge technology, the latest tools, and a broad and diverse network of industry experts to support them in their entrepreneurial dreams!


The REC is proud to provide resources to founders from diverse backgrounds so they can follow their passion and use technology and innovative approaches to turn ideas into impactful startups that solve big problems in the world!


Due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, all meetings and events will be offered in a virtual format.


Click on the link below to register for a workshop

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Click on the link below to see our previous workshops and guest speakers

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Gazelle Path

  • Apply to Gazelle Path or join a team
  • 12-week program, 120 hours
  • 2 units $46/unit
  • 6 workshops minimum
  • 6 1:1 mentor meetings
  • 1 hour 1:1 legal counsel
  • Individual branding campaign
  • Coder/developer support
  • SBDC 1:1 advisor meetings
  • Feedback from VC’s & angel investors
What is a Gazelle Anyways?
What is a Gazelle Anyways?

All Students


  • Attend only the workshops you want
  • SBDC 1:1 advisor meetings
  • Digital badging
  • Network with like-minded entrepreneurs
  • Learn more about the REC 
  • Receive feedback on ideas



SD Miramar College Campus

C103 & 105, 1st floor Diesel Technology Building

10440 Black Mountain Rd

San Diego, Ca 92129


Wednesdays & Fridays

11:00 am – 7:30 pm         |  619 388-7933


Start a Gazelle!  

Very often the missing component that separates a small business from a scalable business is technology.   Learn how to start companies that are scalable by integrating technology into your business model. 


You don't need to be a "techie" to start a tech company.  We teach you how to turn a business into a gazelle by taking advantage of the latest developments in technology.  If you are a techie, we can help fill the skills gaps and turn your technology into a high-growth gazelle startup!


Ryan Vanshur being interviewed by Mike and Savannah at CourseKey HQ
Ryan Vanshur being interviewed by Mike and Savannah at CourseKey HQ


The Gazelle Path Includes:

  • Intensive Mentorship: Creators meet regularly to receive one-on-one advice and guidance from successful entrepreneurs who have been through the process and can get your startup launch-ready
  • Coding App & Web Design: From bricolage to bootstrapping, we make sure you have the tech resources you need 
  • One-on-one Legal Advice & Law Workshops: Free individual legal consultations with attorneys from New Media Rights, LLC & workshops
  • Branding & Design Clinic: SDMC Mgrfx Squad & SDSU Graphic Design students will work one-on-one to create logos, identity graphics, slogans
  • Startup San Diego: REC creators have the chance to attend 2020 San Diego Start up Week to network with thousands of entrepreneurs, developers, designers, students, and community leaders


Our regular events and workshops are always free and open to the public. All workshops are taught by subject-matter experts, CEO's, founders, educators, and other industry leaders.


Workshops are held weekly on Wednesdays and Fridays in afternoons and evenings and topics fall under four broad categories:


  • Characteristics & Mindset of Entrepreneurs
  • Idea-Stage Entrepreneurial Process
  • Early-Stage Entrepreneurial Process
  • Critical Skills for Success
Ryan Vanshur CourseKey CoFounder Speaking to Students
Ryan Vanshur CourseKey CoFounder Speaking to Students
Gregg Anderson 41 Orange Speaks to Students
Gregg Anderson 41 Orange Speaks to Students


REC Innovation Lab at SDMC Phases of Idea Development

visual representation showing steps 1-6 of idea development.
The 6 Phases in The Gazelle Path at The REC

Students submit applications and ideas are chosen based on the potential for the ideas to become gazelles (high-growth, high-value companies).  Applications are scored based on the students’ understanding of entrepreneurship concepts and principles of the lean methodology; their understanding of their competition, customer, industry, potential revenue streams, and market timing; their own knowledge, experience, personality, tolerance for ambiguity, their passion, and skills; the likelihood the model can be scaled; and finally the entrepreneur’s openness to feedback and willingness to lean.  Preference is given to students who have already completed BUSE 129, or another Entrepreneurship Fundamentals course, or have actual industry experience starting a business or working in a startup environment.
Those admitted to the program are expected to complete 60 hours of work on their startup per unit (summer session is one unit, Spring and Fall is two units), evaluating the feasibility and impact of their idea, meet with mentors (including student mentors) and advisors (at least four virtual meetings) to work on implementing curriculum and preparing for end-of-semester pitch competition, meet with Professor Hertz or Professor Suganya at least twice per month, attend at least two workshops per month, and meet with legal team, SBDC, branding and design team, and coding and development team, as needed.
In the REC Innovation Lab through course BUSE 270 we follow the Lean Methodology and explore idea feasibility and impact by validating assumptions using a system modified by Professor Hertz and outlined below. 
Through the incubation program students are tasked with progressing through six phases of assumption validation. In order of “riskiness”, those phases are…

  • G1.Problem Testing  - Customer Discovery: Finding Early Adopters
  • G2.Offer Testing: Reaching Early Adopters
  • G3.Payment Testing: Early Adopters Will Pay
  • G4.Solution Testing: Satisfy Early Adopters
  • G5.Scaling to Fit: Achieve Product-Market Fit
  • G6. Profitability Testing; Afford a G6

Based on the results of an assessment of the phases, students must identify in which stage they will start and then are placed with advisors to help them to build MVP’s that correspond with the six phases.  The majority of students will enter the program in the G1 Customer Discovery Phase.  The focus of the REC is on early-stage, pre-revenue, pre-funding startups and we work with other programs including SDSU ZIP and Lavin and UCSD Brink to supplement the resources available to the students.   Students may re-take BUSE 270 as many times as needed to support their businesses.  The students must continue to meet milestones to stay in the program.
Client matrix based on the 4 steps of Epiphany

G1.   Problem Testing  - Customer Discovery: Finding Early Adopters

The riskiest assumption, for every startup, is that there are people actively trying to solve the problem your product will solve for them – these are the people we refer to as your Early Adopters.
In particular, your goal during this phase of testing is to validate:
There are people already trying to solve the problem (Early Adopters)
You know how they describe the problem
You know the emotions they experience associated with the problem
You know where/how to reach them
The deficiencies of their current solution
Experiment to Run: The best technique for validating these assumptions is the customer discovery/problem interview.
Interviews will answer any questions you have regarding the assumptions above, and set you up for success in validating the rest of your assumptions.
Metric to Measure: What percentage of customers you interview report taking steps to solve the same problem w/n the last 6 months? Once 60% of your last 10 interviewees report actively trying to solve the same problem, you have found your Early Adopters.

G2. Offer Testing: Reaching your Early Adopters

During your interviews, customers will tell you where and how to reach other Early Adopters. Your goal in this phase is to validate what they told you.
In other words, you’re testing that you can find more Early Adopters; you know what to say to them when you find them, and that they’re eager enough for a solution to the problem that they ask you for more information.
MVP to Build: To validate this assumption, you’re going to test a combination of marketing channels and marketing messages based on the results of your interviews.
Potential MVPs:
Ad campaigns
Cold email outreach
Cold calling campaigns
Becoming member of forums/communities
Social media outreach
Attending conferences, meetups, etc.
Metric to Measure: Once your Early Adopters’ response rate to your “Solution Offer” (i.e. click on your ads, respond to your emails, etc.) is high enough that you can clearly see a path to Product-Market Fit, you’re ready to test the next assumption.


G3. Payment Testing: Your Early Adopters will Pay you

Once you’ve validated you can reach your Early Adopters, you need to test if they’ll “pay” you sufficiently to solve the problem.
In this case “payment” can be in the form of actual cash, or it can be something else that leads directly to your Product-Market Fit (e.g. usage of your product, personal data, etc.) depending on your business model.
MVP to Build: To validate this assumption you’re going to actually ask for “payment.” While you won’t usually take the payment (because your product hasn’t been built yet), you’re going to ask for it and measure how many Early Adopters try to pay you.
Examples include:
Landing page with pre-order functionality
Requesting a Letter of Intent after a solution interview
A mobile app w/ just enough functionality to measure the number of downloads and opens
Metric to Measure: Once your Early Adopters “payment” conversion rate is high enough that you can clearly see a path to Product-Market Fit, you’re ready to test whether you can start solving the problem!

G4. Solution Testing: You can Satisfy your Early Adopters

Now it’s time to test whether you can actually solve your Early Adopters’ problems. While it can be tempting to automate your first couple attempts at a solution, there’s usually a more efficient way to test this assumption.
MVP to Build: manual solutions are the best way to test whether you can solve an Early Adopter’s problem.
While they may take more of your time to solve a customer’s problem, manual solutions are much faster to build, and even faster to iterate on, than automated (i.e. software) solutions.

pretendo type talk to text example

Examples include:
Concierge MVP
(Pretendotype) Wizard of OZ MVP
Metric to Measure: Once you’re solving the problem sufficiently well that your Customer Lifetime Value and your Viral Co-Efficient are high enough that you’re tracking towards Product-Market Fit, you’re ready to start scaling your solution!

G5. Scaling to Fit: You can achieve Product-Market Fit

Once you’ve validated that Early Adopters exist, you can reach them, they’ll pay you, and you can solve their problems sufficiently, the only assumption left is that you can scale until you achieve Product-Market Fit.
MVP to Build: Automated testing; now is the time you get to automate your solution, scale to multiple marketing channels, and branch out to your second and third customer segments.
Examples include:
Beta version of your software
Software-based pilot for a large customer
Running outreach campaigns in multiple channels simultaneously
Multiple, simultaneous, landing page test targeting different customers
Metric to Measure: At this point you’re measuring that all your previous metrics (e.g. response rate, conversion rate, Lifetime Value and Viral Co-Efficient) are all still tracking towards you achieving Product-Market Fit.

G6. Profitability Testing; You can afford a G6

You don’t need to actually buy a Gulfstream G650 (or even want to), but you should be able to afford the yearly cost to operate one. The total annual budget for flying a Gulfstream 650 private jet for 200 hours per year is approximately $1,576,211.  This does not include the cost to purchase the jet, depreciation or the cost of capital (approximately $50 million). 
At the end of the program for each round, we will be holding a pitch competition to angel investors, directors of other incubators, your team mentors or advisors, and other subject matter experts.

REC Resources Available

The goal of the REC is to provide accessible resources to entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds so they can follow their passions and turn ideas into startups that use technology and innovative approaches to solve problems and make an impact in the world!
At the REC we remove barriers to success and provide entrepreneurs with support including: mentorship, workshops to develop skills, opportunities to expand networks, and access to resources.  Our 8-week intensive summer program takes teams from the back of the napkin to the front of angel investors and students learn how to turn their passion into a paycheck, and create startups that are truly impactful in the lives of customers.
The REC never takes equity and does not charge a monthly fee.  All are welcome to sign up for our classes, workshops, speaker series, and events.  Existing business owners are invited to use our free services offered in partnership with the SBDC and receive one-on-one guidance to manage and grow their operations.

Inductees into the REC will have access to the following resources: 

· Highly skilled Developers/Coders from San Diego Coding School complete their apprenticeships with the startups in the REC and provide coding and app development to those who need individualized support from developers.  They also provide guidance on existing technology resources that are available and how entrepreneurs can use them
Engaging and inspirational workshops from subject-matter experts
· Access to the Virtual Reality Lab in the REC, virtual and augmented reality training and digital badging
· One-on-one mentor meetings with subject-matter experts
· Free individual legal consultations with attorneys from New Media Rights, LLC where teams get 50-minute consultations twice per semesters
· Use of virtual prototyping tools 
· Winners of REC pitch competition will present at 2021 Angel Investors Conference where over $500K will be invested (entry fee, preparation and coaching provided)
· Branding and design clinic where company logo and other branding elements, and a brand management campaign is created with the help of experts
· Professional glossy business cards
· Workshops on app development, website design, customer interviews, legal structures, crowdfunding, networking, and LinkedIn for entrepreneurs
· Access to exclusive scholarships, grants, prizes
· After program completion entrepreneurs will earn induction certificate, and two (2) units transferable course credits
· Branded cords and stole for students earning a degree or certificate
· Advanced placement in other incubators, accelerators, and labs including the SDSU ZIP and Lavin Entrepreneurship program and UCSD Brink
· Innovation Showcase where teams will present to industry experts, CEO’s and founders of high-growth startups, other experienced entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and angel investors
·  One-on-one meetings with the SBDC every Wednesday

Here is a sample of some of the workshops we have had this semester in the REC Innovation Lab:

Ryan Vanshur, Rock Bottom Entrepreneurship and Forming the Team to Build the Brand

Martin Danner, An Introduction to Podcasting

Martin Danner, Advice from an Entrepreneur

Jennifer Barnes CEO Optima Office, Lessons Learned and Critical Accounting Discussion

Mysty Rusk, Sylvia Mah, & Jennifer Patel Ask an Angel

Lisa Schloss, Defining Customer Value with the Business Model Canvas 

Jacob Beall, Intro to Wix Website Builder

Ray Freiwirth, You Thought Choosing A Name Was Easy

Knowing Yourself as an Entrepreneur with Gwen Franco,

Law 101 for Entrepreneurs with New Media Rights, Shaun Spaulding

Resiliency, Pivoting, and Adapting in the Market with Regina Bernal

Operating in a Virtual World with Tanya Hertz and Karina Rivera,

Creating Promotional Materials with Canva and Adobe Illustrator with Rohan