Finalists announced for 2020 Spirit of the Entrepreneur Awards

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– The Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) at Cal State San Bernardino announced the finalists for this year’s Spirit of the Entrepreneur Awards program. Eight entrepreneurs were selected from a pool of over 200 nominees.

Forty-seven semi-finalists participated in a virtual reception on Oct. 7 sponsored by Roorda, Piquet & Bessee, Inc. (RP&B, CPAs), where they interacted with the event judges. Following the reception, the judges convened to select the finalists, who will compete as part of the 18th annual awards program.

Due to the unique circumstances of 2020, the awards program focused on recognizing entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs in two unique categories: the COVID Innovator Entrepreneur and the COVID Hero Entrepreneur.

Due to the restrictions for in-person events during the coronavirus pandemic, the event will not be the typical live black-tie gala with over 1,000 people attending; the awards will be presented as part of a broadcast on KSCI Channel 18 on Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. The winners will be announced during the broadcast.

The event is presented by Cal State San Bernardino and produced by the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship and the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration in partnership with the Premier Sponsor, City National Bank.

Mike Stull, founder and producer of the Spirit of the Entrepreneur Awards, said, “It became very clear that the 2020 event would not be possible if we approached it from a business-as-usual standpoint. Like the entrepreneurs of our community, we have adapted and pivoted to deliver this Spirit event with a new format and focus. Our typical black-tie gala with over 1,000 attendees has transformed into a broadcast program, with a focus on recognizing those entrepreneurs who have been innovators and community heroes in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.”

The 2020 Finalists include:


  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Inland Empire Jennifer O’Farrell – Riverside
  • C.H.A.N.T. Training Academy/ G.S.M. Management & Consulting LLC Vincent Garrett – Rancho Cucamonga
  • RPP Products, Inc. Eric Zwigart – Bloomington
  • SoCal Face Shields for Frontline Workers Zubin and Tenzing Carvalho – Hemet


  • Another Brilliant Idea, Inc. – Brilliant Mobile Messaging Mary Barnett – Corona
  • Inland SoCal United Way Lisa Wright – Rancho Cucamonga
  • Murrieta/Wildomar Chamber of Commerce Patrick Ellis – Murrieta
  • Victor Valley Rescue Mission Bill Edwards – Victorville

The award in both categories will be presented as part of the broadcast on Nov. 21 on KSCI Channel 18, and the program will also include:

Special Emcee – Janice Bryant Howroyd, founder and CEO of The ActOne Group, the largest privately held, minority-woman-owned personnel company founded in the U.S. Howroyd is the first African American woman to build and own a billion dollar company.

A special “Where Are They Now” segment – featuring past winners of the Spirit of the Entrepreneur Award from the past 17 years.

The Garner Holt Student Fast Pitch Competition – Presented by IECE and sponsored by Garner Holt Productions, along with supporting sponsor City National Bank, this competition features 90-second business pitches from CSUSB student finalists vying for top cash prizes for their startup ideas.

Entertainment – This year’s entertainment, presented by City National Bank, is Vintage Trouble! The L.A.-based quartet is known for their uplifting blend of rhythm and blues and classic rock. Since forming in 2010, Vintage Trouble have quietly become rock ‘n’ roll’s best kept secret. The quartet has logged 3,000 shows across 30 countries on tour with divinities such as The Who, The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Lenny Kravitz, and Bon Jovi, to name a few. Along the way, they also performed on Later… with Jools Holland, Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!, Conan, The View, and The Tonight Show in addition to receiving acclaim from New York Times, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, Billboard, Rolling Stone, and more.

A portion of the proceeds from the Spirit of the Entrepreneur event benefit the Spirit of the Entrepreneur Scholarship established by Stull, director of Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship at California State University, San Bernardino. The scholarship is awarded to vetted and deserving entrepreneurship students in order to assist them in achieving their degree.

EVent sponsors

The Spirit of the Entrepreneur event is presented by California State University, San Bernardino and produced by the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship and The Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration, in partnership with Premier Sponsor, City National Bank. In addition, the event is supported by a wide range of local organizations including:

  • PLATINUM SPONSORS Best Best & Krieger LLP, Southern California News Group, Bank of America, Inland Empire Magazine, Wells Fargo, and Inland Empire Business Journal
  • GOLD SPONSORS San Bernardino County EDA, US Bank, Wilson Ivanova CPAs, Altek Media Group, Riverside County EDA, and Varner & Brandt
  • SILVER SPONSORS JPMorgan Chase & Co., CDC Small Business Finance, Pacific Premier Bank, Inland Empire Community Foundation, SmartSyt, City of Ontario, Roark Financial Solutions, and Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG)
  • VIRTUAL JUDGING RECEPTION SPONSOR by Roorda, Piquet & Bessee, Inc. (RP&B, CPAs)

For more information about the program, contact Mike Stull (909) 537-3708 or via email

About the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) Established in 1999, the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) supports and celebrates entrepreneurship and small business through innovative programs and educational resources. IECE delivers experiential learning and student support programs such as the Fast Pitch Competition. In the local community, IECE offers existing and aspiring entrepreneurs a wide array of business advisory and mentoring services and entrepreneurial training programs that help them achieve greater levels of success in their business ventures.

IECE was recognized internationally by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and received the Entrepreneurship Spotlight Challenge award for demonstrating leadership in creating (and incubating) cutting-edge business innovations through enriched student learning and experiential education, which ranked them among the top 35 entrepreneurship programs globally.

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