Established in 2008, Dinner with a Winner affords Diamond in the Rough awardees and a few, select, highly-motivated entrepreneurial students the opportunity to interact with successful entrepreneurs over a wonderful dinner. In this relaxed setting, the honored entrepreneur discusses his/her business successes and failures, and answers questions posed by students.
Tom & Mike Leach - April 10, 2013
Tom Leach '08 and Mike Leach '11 are both graduates of LMU's School of Film and Television. With a strong entrepreneurial drive, the Leach Brothers were very close to Grampa Fred during their time at LMU and still consider him a close friend and mentor. In addition to teaching at LMU's School of Film and Television, Tom is Vice President, Development and Current Programming at Mark Burnett Productions (now One Three Media) where he's in charge of coming up with television's next big hit. Tom was recently featured on Forbes Magazine's annual "30 Under 30" list. Tom's younger brother, Mike, is also working in the film and TV development business. Several years ago, the brothers started their own media production company called Media Red LLC. They are certainly on their way to making a huge splash in the entertainment industry.
Gigi Pascual - March 12, 2013
Gigi Pascual graduated from LMU with a BA in Business Administration in 2005 and shortly after went to culinary school in NYC at The French Culinary Institute for Pastry Arts. She's interned at Nobu NYC and worked as the pastry chef at Bin 8945. She combined her business skills with her love for food (especially breakfast) and created Buttermilk, Inc. The Buttermilk Truck, a gourmet food truck, launched in LA in November 2009. Almost all of her menu items — pastries and other breakfast items — feature buttermilk as an ingredient and were created especially by her. Gigi is an entrepreneur with a passion for food. She strives to constantly grow and learn about the food truck industry and is working on expanding the current Buttermilk Inc brand.
Ted Kraus - Nov. 6, 2012
Ted received his MBA with an emphasis in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from LMU in 2010. He has won several Southern California venture capital and academic business plan competitions and received accolades for his work on NOGOS Saliva Alcohol Testing Strips. He is currently working on a number of solutions at 8 Rivers Capital in Durham, NC including NET Power, BuyStand, and Entasso. He was previously a Technology Analyst for Luis Villalobos, the founder of Tech Coast Angels. Ted has a sharp mind with a critical eye for what does and does not constitute a truly innovative idea.
Courtney Surls - Nov. 28, 2011
Courtney Surls received her master's degree in educational administration from LMU and previously served as director of development for LMU's College of Business Administration. She's currently the Vice President for Development at USC and has offices in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. Courtney is the epitome of a corporate entrepreneurial achiever - being entrepreneurial in the larger organization, taking controlled risk and doing things that matter.
Jamal Kinney - Nov. 14, 2011
Jamal Kinney is a 2007 graduate of LMU's Entrepreneurship Program, and one of the special Diamond in the Rough honorees who participated in many entrepreneurial events as a student. He is now successfully running a business in the digital media/internet industry and doing very well!!!!!
Mark Hoffman - Nov. 29, 2010
Mark Hoffman graduated from LMU in 1979 with a B.S. in political science with a business minor. He went on to graduate from Loyola Law in 1982. Mark is an attorney, judge, policeman and mentor to students!!! He is active on both sides of the law. For more than 20 years, Mark has been a volunteer reserve police officer, volunteering his time to work the streets and help people. He has won many honors as an attorney, a judge and an active reserve police officer. In the legal field, he is truly a triple threat achiever!
Marc Emmer - Nov. 1, 2010
Marc Emmer graduated from LMU in 1984 with a BBA in marketing. He founded his consulting and strategic counseling firm, Optimize, Inc., in 2002. His recent business book about strategic planning, "Intended Consequences," is a bestseller and garnered him tremendous national publicity, including coverage in Forbes magazine, and appearances on CNBC and Fox Business Network. He regularly participates in speaking engagements across the country, coaching and guiding business executives and owners on strategic planning.
Daniel Abas - Dec. 1, 2008
A true go-getter, Daniel Abas started his successful business while working on his MBA. His idea of a high-end concierge service took off quickly. The LA Times named his company one of the region's top 10 businesses. Abas recently changed the name to Red Butler, which is the envy of many copycat organizations. Red Butler can be the personal assistant everyone has always wanted... and at an affordable price!
Bert Lovitt - Nov. 17, 2008
After creating hundreds of items you may already own ("floating" basketballs and shoes that show movies in the heel), Bert Lovitt decided he could improve inline skates. He decided a bigger wheel for a better center of gravity would revolutionize the industry and viola! LandRoller was born.
LandRoller's radical wheel configuration outperforms inline skates on most surfaces with a smoother and more stable ride. "Size does matter! The basic physics of bigger wheels has clear advantages. For years, skate companies have tried to capitalize on those advantages by putting larger wheels on skates to improve versatility and achieve a smoother glide. Those attempts have failed because the skates were either dangerously high off the ground, or had limited manoeuvre ability because of a long wheelbase." he said.
Bryan Freeman - July 25, 2008
This time we took the "Dinner with a Winner" event "on the road." We took a road trip to Stockton, Calif., to visit Bryan Freeman at his Mollicoolz plant there. We were allowed to tour the entire plant, but only after donning white coats, hair nets, and hard hats. While wearing this awesome attire, we followed the whole process of creating the delicious,ice cream end product, Mollicoolz. Bryan is now shipping 250,000 units per day to over 14,000 stores across the US. We then gathered in the Board Room of the plant where Bryan shared the journey he has been on with this company. Later that evening we met with Bryan again for dinner. During dinner the group had a great conversation about the ups and downs of being a "Serial Entrepreneur." Bryan is working on his third "start-up," and he is only in his mid-30's!
Don Nores - April 22, 2008
Don and Joyce Nores met with students to discuss Digital Printing Systems that they have owned and nurtured over the past 37+ years. Don had worked in the ticket printing business as a salesperson for many years prior to starting his own firm. Don knew what the customer wanted and his attention to meeting and exceeding their expectations was the impetus to start Digital Printing Systems. He started small, with himself as salesperson and with a single pressman. The focus of the business was to provide the highest levels of customer service combined with innovative and quality products. Digital Printing Systems prints tickets that are used in parking garages, as well as tickets used for numerous commuter railway systems. He brought samples of the wide variety of tickets his company produces. None of us will ever look at a ticket in the same way after this educational evening!
Herb Zebrack - March 12, 2008
An eager group of Entrpreneurship students gathered for the inaugural "Dinner with a Winner" event. They met with Mr. Zebrack, and over the next 2 and a half hours he shared his entrepreneurial adventure. Mr. Zebrack literally began his printing career from the bottom up. He worked nights on a 41" cylinder letterpress while attending LA Trade Tech to learn the Lithographic process. After working his way up the "Print Ladder," Mr. Zebrack joined Lithographix As Plant Superintendent. Two years later, along with a partner, he was able to purchase Lithographix . Superior service, quality and tradition are trademarks of Lithographix. They strive to exceed the customer's expectations while simplifying the process. It is no wonder that they are recognized as the best high-end commercial lithographer in the country. What a great evening this was for the students!