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UCI ANTrepreneur Center Announces $ide Hustle Challenge

From Passion to Profit: UCI’s $ide Hustle Challenge Nurtures The Creatives of Tomorrow

UCI Side Hustle ChallengeThe UCI ANTrepreneur Center, a beacon for budding entrepreneurs at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), has successfully launched the $ide Hustle Challenge.

This initiative supports UCI students—affectionately known as “ANTrepreneurs”—in developing their entrepreneurial skills through practical experience and tailored support. By enabling students to turn their passions into profits, the challenge prepares them to transform innovative ideas into viable businesses.

The ANTrepreneur Center: A Hub of Entrepreneurial Spirit

Located at the heart of innovation, the ANTrepreneur Center helps students explore the multifaceted process of entrepreneurship by providing resources, mentorship, and access to industry insights. As part of the Blackstone LaunchPad network, the Center strives to close the opportunity gap for college students by equipping them with entrepreneurial skills and internship opportunities.

Structuring the Challenge

The $ide Hustle Challenge is meticulously structured to nurture the entrepreneurial journey from ideation to market:

  • Initial Workshops: Experts like Ruby Mejia-Perez (ANTrepreneur Center Unit Business Coordinator), Professor Daniel Alexander, (who runs the UCI Law Small Business Startup Clinic), Susie Yoon (Founder of Skinesque), and Melinda Pang (Executive Director of the Irvine Tech Hub) lead foundational workshops on financial management, legal considerations, monetizing user-generated content, and e-commerce strategies. All of the workshops are made available not only to the participants, but also to the public, via the challenge website.
  • Development and Mentoring: Students refine their business ideas with guidance from experienced mentors and utilize resources such as 3D printers and laser cutters in the ANTrepreneur Center’s mini maker room.
  • $ide Hustle Marketplace on May 31st from 2:30pm – 6:30pm: The challenge culminates with a public marketplace event where students showcase and sell their products, turning theoretical business ideas into practical, operational ventures. This event is open to the community, and we are hoping for hundreds of attendees.

Meeting Students Where They Are

The challenge is uniquely designed to resonate with students who may not initially see themselves as entrepreneurs. “Many of our students have side hustles they’re passionate about, but when you ask if they are entrepreneurs, they say no. We’ve created this challenge to educate and empower them. To show the viability of these ventures as serious businesses,” explains Stefani Rios, ANTrepreneur Center Program Coordinator.

Examples of Student $ide Hustles

The diversity of ventures in the $ide Hustle Challenge is a testament to the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of UCI students. From tech innovations to unique artistic & culinary treats, these ventures showcase the breadth of interests and entrepreneurial ambitions among the participants. Examples of student ventures include:

  • A budding magician ready to professionalize his passion.
  • A tech enthusiast aiming to expand a crypto mining venture.
  • A polyglot launching an English tutoring service, leveraging his multilingual abilities.
  • Creatives offering bespoke services such as haircuts, cooking classes, and piano lessons.
  • An entrepreneur creating and selling customized freeze-dried goods, from fruits to candies.
  • Students engaging in cultural entrepreneurship by teaching Korean, sharing Korean culture, and selling Korean products.
  • A health-focused venture fundamentally changing youth perceptions of health through VR and generative AI.
  • Eco-conscious students developing upcycled fashion items, emphasizing sustainability in the fashion industry.
  • Culinary students baking and selling specialized goods like chocolate tarts, brownies, and artisanal pastries.
  • A student-run initiative donating STEM project kits to elementary school kids, fostering early interest in science and technology.
  • Innovative students designing a productivity coach service to help peers manage their time and tasks more effectively.
  • Artistic students selling handmade items on Etsy, including unique jewelry and home decor.
  • Tech-savvy students developing an app to consolidate university events into a single comprehensive calendar.
  • Entrepreneurs focusing on niche markets such as allergy-friendly candies and customizable event-based treats like frozen chocolate-covered bananas.
  • Visionaries creating streetwear clothing combined with nutrition calculation services to blend fashion with health awareness.
  • Creation of slime for adults and children
  • Birthday Celebration Videos for Gen Z

Each venture not only provides a platform for students to earn income but also helps them to build real-world skills and networks that can propel them into future business success.

The Power of a $ide Hustle

Many of today’s largest brands began as modest side hustles that transformed into industry leaders. Estée Lauder Companies, for instance, emerged from a single homemade skincare product crafted by an immigrant in Queens, New York. This humble beginning blossomed into a global cosmetic empire. Similarly, Under Armour started with a simple idea to create a superior t-shirt for athletes, conceived in the founder’s grandmother’s basement, and is now a staple in sports apparel worldwide. Another iconic example is Apple Inc., which began in Steve Jobs’ garage and went on to revolutionize the technology industry with its innovative products.

“The $ide Hustle Challenge is more than a competition; it’s a foundational experience that teaches valuable entrepreneurship skills in an engaging and accessible way,” says Ryan Foland, Director of the ANTrepreneur Center. “These examples illustrate the potential of small beginnings and how they can lead to monumental success, inspiring our students to see the limitless possibilities of their own side hustles.”

Support, Sponsorship, and Enhanced Collaboration

The $ide Hustle Challenge is made possible through the generous support of sponsors including Siemens, GoZigZag, Blackstone Launchpad, Fodada, Skinesque, KeyPrintCo, KommonThread, the Hub at UCI, and significant donations from our leadership board and the broader community. These contributions fund prize money, provide food, and enhance the resources available to our participants, ensuring a comprehensive and supportive environment for all ANTrepreneurs.

Additionally, the ANTrepreneur Center is a proud member of the Blackstone Launchpad network. As part of the Blackstone LaunchPad network, the Center benefits from a rich culture of collaboration that extends across over 50 entrepreneurial centers at higher educational institutions. This network facilitated a pivotal partnership with Eric Garner, Director of Small Business & Entrepreneurship Development and Blackstone Launchpad at the College of Southern Nevada. By learning from their successful Side Hustle Expo, and particularly how they implemented a poster board presentation, we were able to incorporate these best practices into our own $ide Hustle Marketplace. This interaction not only enriched our quarter-long challenge but also ensured that our inaugural competition was shaped by proven strategies, enhancing the experience for participants and spectators alike.

Grand Finale: The UCI $ide Hustle Marketplace

Join us for the grand culmination of the UCI $ide Hustle Challenge at the UCI $ide Hustle Marketplace on May 31st. This vibrant public event at the ANTrepreneur Center is your opportunity to support and engage with UCI’s brightest undergraduate entrepreneurs as they showcase and sell their innovative products and services. Experience the transformation of creative ideas into market-ready ventures and witness firsthand how a simple side hustle can evolve into a thriving business.

Don’t miss this chance to explore an array of unique innovations and to celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit of UCI students. Whether you’re interested in technology, arts, culinary delights, or fashion, there is something for everyone at the marketplace.

Event Details:

Date: May 31st
Location: UCI ANTrepreneur Center
Time: 2:30pm – 6:30pm

We are encouraging the community, including UCI staff, faculty, Deans, Vice Provosts, alumni, undergraduate, and graduate students, along with the greater Irvine community, to join us in this celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship at the $ide Hustle Finals Marketplace!


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