CSU, Chico News

New Course Explores Strategies of Successful Tech Companies

Date: 01-15-2014

Sarah Langford
Public Affairs
Gary Sitton, Professor Emeritus
Department of Computer Science

The dos and don’ts of launching a successful technical startup business will be revealed in a new course offered at California State University, Chico this spring, with help from some of the region’s most notable entrepreneurs.

Technology Startups (TECH 598) shares best practices and pitfalls to avoid with students looking to start their own technology-based businesses. Taught by CSU, Chico computer science professor emeritus Gary Sitton, founder of Bi-Tech Software Inc., the class boasts an exciting lineup of lectures from industry professionals who either started their own successful tech companies or got in on the “ground level.” Topics to be covered include working with technical professionals, customer service and client relations, quality assurance, sales and marketing, preparing budgets and business plans, acquiring funding, working with attorneys and surviving an acquisition.

Among the featured speakers are Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. President and CEO Ken Grossman; Chico City Council member Sean Morgan; California Mechatronics Center CEO Nick Repanich; Exit Row Solutions CEO Michael Reale; and Bi-Tech founders Gary and Judy Sitton. Each of the course’s 15 entrepreneur speakers will share industry tips and secrets and speak from their own experiences and areas of expertise.

Sitton, who taught computer science at CSU, Chico for 17 years, left teaching in 1980 to run his software application company, Bi-Tech, with his wife, Judy Sitton, out of their Butte County home. When he sold the company in 1995, Bi-Tech had more than 200 employees, nearly 300 clients, and both national and international distribution.

The CSU, Chico Distinguished Alumni (’97) taught a similar course in 2004 and said he wants to support students and community members in pursuing their dreams – and help them avoid some of the setbacks he encountered.

“There were a lot of things I’d wish I’d known when I started, a lot of things I learned the hard way,” Sitton said. “This is a great chance to interact with people who have actually started their own companies, and to learn from them.”

TECH 598 is a four-unit class and meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 7:50 a.m. The course is open to enrolled students and to community members through Open University. The spring 2014 semester begins Tuesday, Jan. 21; more information may be found at http://www.csuchico.edu/eece/announcements/tech598sp14.shtml. To register, please visit http://www.csuchico.edu/schedule/.