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Growing in a Strong Community


Luciano Hernandez

Marketing major and Environmental Studies minor, Luciano Hernandez, Class of 2018, started his journey to success his freshman year when he went door-to-door in his dorm trying to sell t-shirts he designed to fellow classmates. One pulled him in and asked him if he’d heard of Grand Valley’s CEO club. “It’s the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization. It’s for any student who has a business idea that they want to get started and who want to be around people who are thinking bigger.”

Luciano joined the CEO club, and after his first year, he was offered a leadership position, which lead him into experiences like event planning, recruiting, and leadership development. All of these skills prepared him for business pitch competitions, which he began entering as a sophomore.

In September of 2016, Luciano entered 5x5 Night at Start Garden, a group which provides a base for young entrepreneurs. “5x5 Night is a business pitch competition. Five judges, five minute pitches, five competitors, starting at 5 o’clock.” He had pitched his company, Tiger Tech, and their solar powered motion censored lights the year before and came away with second place. This year, he had perfected his pitch by working with his mentors Tim Syfert, Kevin McCurren, and Zoe Bruin at the DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. The mentorship paid off, as Luciano won the $5,000 for first place.

Luciano is most thankful that his win in the 5x5 competition has inspired his classmates to see that they can make something happen for themselves, too. “Giving these opportunities to students makes a stronger community because when people are growing themselves that grows others.”

Luciano feels that the Grand Valley community has done just that for him. “Grand Valley’s Seidman College of Business has been an integral part of what I’m trying to do because it puts you right here in Grand Rapids. I can go right to a business meeting and then to an interview and then to an event and take my classes in between all of that. It’s everything that you want as a business student.”

To Luciano, giving back is like fertilizing the soil that our plants needs to grow.  He says to donors, “I feel like I’m a part of something bigger because of people like you who give GVSU students the best soil to grow in.”

With the money he won, Luciano is continuing to develop and expand his company. He feels like the Seidman College of Business has given him the connections and mentors he needs to succeed with his business and continue in the path of a leader.

“I hope my Laker Effect will be making a change in a community. One day, I want to develop some sort of education system like a library where people in areas with high crime rates can go to be around positive people and influences.”