When Ivan Galvan ‘20 MBA ’21 transferred to Dominican University of California, he attained many goals as a soccer player and business major. Driving a taco truck to a tailgate party on campus in October may have blended the best of both worlds.
Ivan, along with his older brother Omar, created their own enterprise -- Galvan’s Eatery – that has evolved into a popular food truck business featured in Sonoma Magazine. Their trucks have visited Dominican several times, including the recent Family Weekend and Chilly’s Fall Fest.
It has become Ivan’s pleasure – and business – to help bring good food and lots of fun to the Penguins.
“I still have a great relationship with my former coach, Dave Frank, at Dominican,” says Ivan, who earned his MBA degree in 2021. “Having catered summer camps last year, we’ve kept in touch for the possibility of working on campus again. This summer we talked about bringing Galvan’s Eatery on campus for an event and the Chilly Fest seemed like the perfect weekend to be there. Getting our food in front of new faces is always exciting and being able to do that at Dominican is a special feeling.”
Ivan’s business ambitions began in his youth when his parents opened a small family-owned grocery store in Windsor where, he says, “my brother and I saw them turn a dream into reality and that showed us at an early age, if we ever had an idea for a business, it would be possible.”
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The idea for Galvan’s Eatery was the brainchild of Omar, but Ivan helped with the development of the business whenever he could, as he was still studying at Dominican when the first food truck opened in October of 2020.
Ivan transferred from CSU Monterey Bay in 2018 to play for Dominican and says its Athletics program was the initial attraction.
“Playing soccer for Dominican was the initial attraction to come here, but the school’s academic excellence was felt right off the bat,” Ivan says. “I remember on my recruiting visit, I met with coaches, athletics staff, business school advisors, and some professors. Everything from athletics to academics at Dominican felt in sync because I had all the resources to develop as an athlete and perform in the classroom.”
As a student-athlete Ivan, a Business Administration major, had success on the field. He was named All-Pacific West Conference Northern California and PacWest Northern California Player of the Week in 2021; about the time he had successfully transitioned from Barowsky School of Business graduate to BSB MBA candidate. The rigors and regiment of practicing and playing soccer and going to class at Dominican helped prepare Ivan for his next step into the real world of business.
Ivan now compares life as a student-athlete to being a business owner.
“Being a student-athlete in general definitely helped shape my business philosophy,” he says. “Although there were a lot of early mornings, tough practices, and long days of class, it was all worth it because I got to pursue a passion of mine and compete at a high level. Owning a business is no different. We operate in a highly competitive market, work longer hours than a conventional job, and have skin in the game, whether it be a financial or personal responsibility to the business. Doing something I’m passionate about for a living, alongside my brother, outweighs the sacrifice it takes. There was no guarantee of success but having the drive to outwork and outsmart the competition certainly helped turn a passion into a career.”
Ivan’s undergraduate experience at Dominican with a management concentration was so rewarding that he decided to stay and pursue his MBA. Upon graduating, Ivan worked in finance at Keysight Technologies yet, with the success of Galvan’s Eatery experienced in its first year of business, the brothers talked about opening a second truck. That’s when Ivan joined Omar full time and decided to expand their business venture together.
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“I helped Omar wherever I could during the process, but he was the one who took the big leap and opened up our first food truck while I was still in college,” Ivan says. “I really admire his ability to have carried the weight of our business during its most critical stage. He’s taught me so much along the way.”
Now they make a great team with a growing business in Sonoma County. Their long-term goal is to open their own tap room where their customers can sit and eat Galvan’s crispy shrimp tacos, birria grilled cheese sandwiches, loaded carne asada fries, and meaty quesabirria with a local beer.
“We are so much more than a food truck. Our business is an extension of my family, everyone on our staff, and all our die-hard customers,” Ivan says. “We express that by providing a unique menu that was developed with the help of our following and by revolutionizing how our community sees tacos. It’s humbling to receive recognition for our efforts from local publications and be nominated for Best Food Truck and Best Tacos in Sonoma County, but nothing beats the smile on our customers’ faces when they eat our food.”
It’s all going according to plan. Ivan and Omar come from a family of first-generation immigrants who have put a stamp on their community with small businesses across Sonoma County. Galvan’s Eatery gained momentum during the pandemic by parking their trucks at local breweries that were restricted by COVID-19 indoor eating regulations. Omar, Ivan says, is the true entrepreneur and has a sales background. Ivan lends his experience on corporate finance and his expertise with an MBA degree.
“I received a well-rounded education at Dominican that prepared me for life after college. Whether it was applying for jobs, getting that first internship, or starting a business, I felt well prepared in all aspects simply because the education here is tailored for students to feel confident entering their early careers,” Ivan says. “My biggest takeaway from receiving an MBA is being able to analyze everyday situations and problem solve. I enjoy providing value by making sound decisions that will keep us on this trajectory we’ve been able to create.”