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Pepperdine Graziadio Celebrates National Entrepreneurs' Day

November 16, 2021  | 3 min read

Today is National Entrepreneur Day, created to honor the many individuals who, through their ingenuity, willingness to take risks, and hard work, have brought their ideas to life. Entrepreneurship is a fundamental part of Graziadio's identity. The entrepreneurial spirit of Graziadio is exemplified by two successful entrepreneurs. First, our benefactor, George L. Graziadio, founder of Imperial Bank; and Pepperdine's founder, George Pepperdine, a pioneer in the automotive industry.

"Entrepreneurship is not just about starting new businesses. It is essentially an approach for making progress in the face of ‘massive uncertainty.’” said Larry Cox, PhD, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Pepperdine Graziadio. “It is indispensable when the environment is unstable or unknown - when "strategic planning" is impossible. It is necessary when goals are unclear and options are indistinguishable from one another - If you consider all that, you’ll do things differently."

Having an idea is just the first step in an entrepreneurial journey. Turning that idea into a compelling opportunity requires analytical capabilities, passion, and determination - something all of our students and alums possess as evidenced by their various successes.

Some of our recent alumni success stories include: 

  • Bardia Dejban (MBA ‘12), CEO for KlickTrack - a cannabis retail ecosystem built by dispensary owners with point of sale, inventory management, and targeted marketing, and more.
  • Nicky Dodaj (BS '19, MBA '21) and her sister, Amy, owners of Malibu Juice Club - a clothing line made for go-getters, jet-setters, and laid-back loungers.
  • Sashi Edupuganti (MBA '12), Founder & CEO of ODE Holdings - the world’s first vertically integrated consumer data ecosystem.
  • JoAnn Fabrizio (MBA '10), Founder and CEO of J Fab Consulting - a company focused on helping clients drive operational efficiency, as well as business process improvements and transformations. 
  • Jennifer Johnson (MBA ‘20), who works with Eklund/Gomes of Douglas Elliman Real Estate - and maybe making an appearance in the final episode of Million Dollar Listings - LA.
  • Nathan Johnson (MBA ‘11) and Jake Wall (MBA ‘08), launchers of Avec Bloom - a company that produces libations that are the perfect blend of “California Cool” remixed with culinary creativity deeply rooted in the French tradition. 
  • Andrew Marr (MBA ‘20), life is featured in the docufilm “Quiet Explosions,” which portrays his recovery from a traumatic brain injury suffered while deployed in Afghanistan, and won the Most Important Film of the Year Impact Award for Excellence for 2021 at the TMIF International Film Festival in Las Vegas.
  • Steve Sanchez (MBA '11), launcher of Mad Penguin Skin Care - a line of all natural plant-based skincare products. 
  • Blake Terreri (MBA '11), Managing Partner of JDF CA MGMT, LLC, which has raised $60 million in capital within the cannabis industry, redeveloped a 120k square foot greenhouse into a state of the art light deprivation facility and built the first operational type 7 volatile hydrocarbon extraction manufacturing facility in Orange County all in the last four years.
  • Nirav Thakkar (MBA '12), Founder and President of eInnoSys an international company that offers automation products for semiconductor and related industries.
  • Lee Rankinen (MBA '10) and Justin Malik (MBA '10), founders of podcast platform Optimal Living Daily.

Here at Graziadio, we foster a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. Whether students are business owners or in a corporate setting, Pepperdine Graziadio wants to help students tap into their creativity, and help them translate their visions into real business ventures that are not only lucrative, but also allow for the expression of their personal values. It is no surprise then, that Bloomberg’s Businessweek recently ranked Graziadio’s Entrepreneurship Program #7 in the US, above USC, MIT and Harvard! This ranking is part of the Bloomberg Businessweek Best B-Schools 2021-22 Rankings in which the Graziadio Full-Time MBA achieved an overall ranking of 51st in the US. These rankings were based on 19,955 surveys collected from students, alumni and recruiters at 119 universities worldwide.

Pepperdine Graziadio is proud to provide a nationally recognized Full-Time and Part-Time MBA entrepreneurship program where students learn hard and soft skills that prepare them to become Best for the World Leaders. In the Graziadio entrepreneurship program, classes are designed to tap into student’s creativity and guide them on how to launch a company starting from the spark of an idea.