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Ladder is a platform for publishing various picture books and online programs with the mission of empowering over one million children to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews from our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring social entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship ecosystem builders, who advance the UN SDGs.

Spicy here! I’m back with the scoop on the CEOs of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I discover people who help frame and support new and innovative ideas and businesses. One of those people is Tim Shaw, Special Projects Manager at UCI Beall Applied Innovation. Let’s see what he does to make a positive impact in the world.

Spicy: Welcome Tim! You seem to be in a unique position to impact the lives of entrepreneurs. Can you tell me what challenges you face to smooth the path to entrepreneurship?

Tim: I’d love to, Spiffy. UCI Beall Applied Innovation helps brilliant researchers, students and alumni at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) create businesses that can create jobs and better conditions for people around the world. It is important that the UCI’s incredible and groundbreaking research does not sit on a shelf if it can have a real impact on health, education, clean energy and the economy. However, not everyone knows how to start and grow a business. Thus, we provide the financing, mentorship and resources that entrepreneurs need at every stage of a business development.

Spicy: You’re right! Good ideas shouldn’t sit on a shelf. What motivated you to help launch innovations in the world?

Tim: I started my career in the nonprofit world working to end homelessness. I still do this job, but it allows me to approach the problem of economic development and opportunities for all from a different angle. I see so much suffering and untapped potential due to the lack of opportunities. I wake up every day with enthusiasm at the thought of using my creativity to collaborate with amazing people on how to increase opportunities for everyone. Plus, it’s super cool to see innovations that will change the world from their very early days.

Spicy: Access to opportunities is the key! How else do you work to help make the world a fairer place?

Tim: The UCI is an institution serving Hispanics and offers programs such as the Black Thriving Initiative and the Latinx Thriving Initiative. Each year we graduate more low income students than the entire Ivy League. Applied Innovation’s Opportunity, Wayfinding & Networking (OWN) initiative secures resources for low-income, first-generation and under-represented students, faculty and entrepreneurs. Our Inclusive Entrepreneurship Task Force of campus leaders, students, investors and entrepreneurs serves as an ambassador for communities often left behind from entrepreneurial opportunities.

Spicy: Sounds phenomenal, Tim. Are there any new UCI Beall Applied Innovation initiatives or milestones that you could tell me about?

Tim: Sure! We recently received a grant from the US Small Business Administration to expand opportunities for black and Latin women entrepreneurs. This is the second grant we have received to expand opportunities for women business owners to access millions of dollars in federal assistance. It is wrong that only 2.3% of venture capital funds go to startups owned by women. This situation is even worse for black and Latin women. This program is helping more women access money early in their business start-up stages. We are really excited about the possibilities!

Spicy: So I am! Can you tell me about a startup or project you’ve worked with that illustrates the impact you strive to have?

Tim: I am co-founder and partner of RevHubOC, a social business incubator in partnership with UCI Beall Applied Innovation. Social enterprises are normal businesses, but they don’t exist just to make money. They must also have a social mission. RevHub partners with UCI and others to help social entrepreneurs start businesses to tackle homelessness, create sustainable food systems, tackle climate change and create jobs for people who want to make a difference in the world in addition to earning a living. RevHub would not be possible without a strong partnership with UCI Beall Applied Innovation.

Spicy: These types of partnerships seem absolutely essential! Before signing, is there anything else you would like to tell our audience? Perhaps a few words of wisdom for those who doubt being an entrepreneur?

Tim: You know, Spiffy, some people think entrepreneurship isn’t for them because they didn’t grow up on money and don’t know how to start a business. 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 also! Don’t be afraid to seek help from successful business owners. You don’t have to be a business expert. I’m not. You just have to be ready to use your creativity and be open to learning. There are people who will help you. Don’t let fear stop you from chasing a dream.

Spicy: This is the most inspiring message I have received of the whole month, Tim! Thank you very much for taking the time to speak to me today. I’m sending it out into the universe for anyone who needs to hear it! More and out.

Tim Shaw is a social entrepreneur committed to building just and livable communities. He manages special projects for Applied innovation from UCI Beall 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 Council, which coordinates 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. Illustration of Spiffy by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews with founders who are building a fairer world here.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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