An Entrepreneurial Life

Lawrence PetersenThe year was 1971, and Larry Petersen was feeling confident. He could see the individual pieces of his SDSU education fusing in a practical test of entrepreneurial ability.

Petersen had taken an extra year at SDSU, supplementing the requirements of his marketing degree with classes in psychology and industrial arts. Now it was time to put his knowledge to work on a senior project.

"This was a real test of entrepreneurship before there were any entrepreneurship majors," Petersen said. "We worked in teams—using all the skills and information we had acquired— to develop a viable company."

Petersen believes the brand of innovative thinking he learned at SDSU "stays with you for life." An entrepreneur, he said, "will understand how to move the company forward in a strategic way that CFOs and other managers aren't familiar with."

He should know. Before retiring, the Petersens received more than 100 national awards for sales and marketing excellence in the course of founding and developing three successful companies—LP Marketing, a representative sales and marketing firm for manufacturers of high quality consumer electronics; Bayview Distributing, an electronics distribution arm for 30 manufacturers; and Bayview Development, which buillt custom homes in the Oakland area.

In 1999, a gift from Petersen and his wife, Madeline, created SDSU's Entrepreneur-inResidence program. This program helps link the college to the local business community by providing the necessary experience to guide the college's students and faculty to those resources that connect classroom lessons and real-world business practices. In 2011, the Petersens made a planned gift to ensure its continued success in the future.

For many years, Petersen has been a judge for SDSU's Venture Challenge business plan competition, or-ganized by the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center.

It's important to the Petersens that SDSU continue to foster an entrepreneurial spirit in today's students. The couple's recent decision to bequeath $2 million of their estate to the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center will generate new opportunities for the center to expand and develop links with each of SDSU's seven colleges—in short, to teach every student to think like an entrepreneur.