ROHNERT PARK -- A gift of $25,000 to establish an entrepreneurs society at Sonoma State University was announced today at the 2011 Seed Round Business Plan Competition, organized by the North Bay iHub.

School of Business and Economics dean William Silver, Ph.D., announced the gift to establish the Weiss/Caldwell Entrepreneurs Society.

“I can’t imagine a better place to announce this gift, which is not just an investment in the university and our students, but in our region and its future,” said Dr. Silver.

The Weiss/Caldwell Entrepreneurship Society will help launch new businesses in the North Bay by providing mentoring, business planning support and entrepreneurship education to faculty and students considering a commercial venture.

“The North Bay is a place that deserves an excellent business school to encourage great talent, seed entrepreneurial efforts, infuse our economy with best business practices and help shine a light toward the unique way the North Bay goes about its business,” Dr. Silver said.

Steve Weiss and Mary Caldwell, and their respective careers in the health care, technology, and investment fields are filled with examples of success and how mentoring was an asset.

Mr.  Weiss, now chairman emeritus of the North Bay Angels, holds patents on cataract and neurosurgery technology he developed with sales in excess of $10 billion, and has invested dollars and leadership in dozens of young companies over the years.

Dr. Caldwell has held positions in marketing management for medical device firms, as a senior healthcare analyst for a large consulting and research firm, and in venture capital, in addition to holding numerous leadership positions in professional associations and community initiatives.

“As a scientist, as an entrepreneur, and as an investor I’ve learned that success often has as much, if not more, to do with people and with mentoring along the way as it does with the product," Mr. Weiss said. "Seeding an Entrepreneurship Society is a way to invest in developing both new talent and innovative businesses."

The Weiss/Caldwell Entrepreneurship Society will be comprised of members of the North Bay Angels and other volunteers who will share their expertise with students and faculty across the Sonoma State campus.  This seed investment will launch the Sonoma State University Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program and help lay the foundation to build a permanent Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center.  Other aspects of the Program will include the development of an entrepreneurship class, the creation of hands-on learning experiences with student-run enterprises, establishment an annual business plan competition, and funding for research projects that explore entrepreneurial success, innovation, and business strategies for growth.

Mr. Weiss, Dr. Caldwell and their yellow lab, Yogi, live in Healdsburg and La Quinta.