Entrepreneurs of the Year

Jonathan Hirshberg, President/CEO of ENI-JR286 is the Greif Center's 2017 Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year.


Celebrating achievement: The Greif Center spotlights excellence with two annual awards: Entrepreneur of the Year and Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year. The recipients celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit and its power to transform society. 

Katie Rodan & Kathy FieldsKatie Rodan and Kathy Fields, Co-Founders of Rodan + Fields and Proactive, were awarded the Greif Center's 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the inaugural ATHENA: Women's Entrepreneurship Summit in November. 


Greif alumnus Jonathan Hirshberg ('94) received the 2017 Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year Award in recognition of his entrepreneurial career and accomplishments. Hirshberg’s company JR286, and its affiliated group of companies, is a global leader in the design, development, manufacturing and distribution of branded and licensed sports equipment and accessories. Historically, JR286 has worked with top brands such as Under Armour, Fila, Speedo, K-Swiss and Red Bull. Hirshberg’s primary company, ENI-JR286, is a global licensing partner with NIKE responsible for a broad range of product categories developed under the NIKE brand. Headquartered in Torrance, California, with operations in Canada, China, Southeast Asia and Europe, JR286 is well-positioned to expand its impact as a global sports equipment and accessories company with a team of dedicated employees who “Enjoy the Journey” along the way. For more information about his company, please visit www.jr286.com.
An active philanthropist, Hirshberg founded the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research after losing his father to the disease. With high-profile events like the Cancer Challenge, a Westside walk/run, and the Tour de Pier, a Manhattan Beach spin cycling event, the foundation has raised more than $95 million to fight pancreatic cancer.  

In accepting his award at this year's Marcia Israel Awards Banquet, Hirshberg recalled the day he sat in on an entrepreneurship class at USC and immediately changed his major and never looked back. You can watch Hirshberg's remarks here.

A select list of past honorees:

Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year

Jonathan Hirshberg, ENI-JR286
Brandon Beck, Mark Merrill, Riot Games
Marc Benioff, Salesforce
Christopher Cabrera, Xactly
Kim Camarella-Khanbeigi, Kiyonna
Chris DeWolfe, MySpace, Jam City
Shannon Gans, New Deal Studios
Anthony Geisler, LA Boxing, Club Pilates
Marco Giannini, Dogswell
James Hart, Star Software, Senn Delaney
Girish Jhunjhnuwala, Hind Group
Thomas Knapp, Club Sportswear
Aaron Levie, Box
Paul Orfalea, Kinko's
Craig Pollard, Cancer for College
Michael Singer, Cherokee Uniforms
Fred and Michael Uytengsu, Alaska Milk, Brookstone Holdings

Entrepreneur of the Year

Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields, Rodan + Fields, Proactiv
Thomas Barrack, Colony Capital
Janice Bryant-Howroyd, Act 1
Scott Cook, Intuit
Mark Cuban, Broadcast.com, Dallas Mavericks
Sky Dayton, Earthlink
Robert Greenberg, Skechers USA
Lloyd Greif, Greif & Co.
Wayne Huizenga, Waste Management, Blockbuster, AutoNation
Marcia Israel, Judy's 
Steve Jobs, Apple, Pixar
Ray Kroc, McDonald's
Pamela Lopker, QAD
George Rathmann, Amgen
Fred Rosen, Ticketmaster
Howard Schultz, Starbucks




Shannon Gans, CEO & Co-Founder, New Deal Studios - Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year 2000

Shannon Gans ('95) wrote the business plan for New Deal Studios while a senior at USC and launched it after graduation with her partners. New Deal has become a leader in special effects and virtual reality, involved in such high-profile films as Inception, The Departed, The Dark Knight Rises, and Interstellar, which won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.


Best advice for entrepreneurs? Never doubt yourself. Your gut is stronger and more reliable than you think. Trust it. What moves you? Helping, empowering, and inspiring others and, in the process, doing the same for myself. Critical skill? Being adaptive, willing to change. When our industry made a seismic shift, we adjusted and huge opportunities came our way. What lesson did you take from USC? Think big and go after your dreams. Have the courage to be bold.