Penn State Student Trades Pen for Ford 250 Truck in 8-wk Trader Challenge


Update 3/20 11:20am: We have a picture of Joe and his new red truck! Way to make your daddy proud.


The culmination of the much-anticipated Trader Challenge yielded an undisputed win by Joe Marcus whose most recent trade was a Ford 250 Truck for a Bowflex PR3000 Home Gym.

According to reports in the campus paper, Penn State’s Daily Collegian, “His goal was to get a more reliable four-wheel drive car for his father to drive in the winter.” He traded the Bowflex Gym to an out-of-shape elderly man to achieve his goal, the paper reports. Read the entire article: Ultimate Trader Challenge at Penn State reveals award winners. We hope to have a picture to post soon.

Congrats to Penn State Student Ambassador John Oliver and his team for a successful Trader Challenge! Later this week, in Washington D.C., twenty student ambassadors (9 new trainees and 11 current), along with close to 300 OPEN Conference attendees will have the chance to hear directly from Oliver about the affects of this challenge on the Penn State Innovation and Entrepreneurship ecosystem in a panel moderated by Epicenter’s own Tom Byers of Stanford University.

~ Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming, T: @ihumera

Bottling the Bay Area and Stanford Magic

Student Ambassadors travel to Bay Area, attend Stanford E-Week

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Nine top-performing Student Ambassadors had an immersive experience in Silicon Valley last week to bring back best practices to their campuses. Some may say, “What happens at Stanford can’t be replicated in our region!” Perhaps not in its entirety. But, we think by breaking down the constituent parts of the magic that is at Stanford and its surrounding area, Student Ambassadors learned valuable new tools that will enhance their own Entrepreneurship and Innovation (E&I) ecosystems.

Student Ambassadors reported that the trip was life-changing for them and as one student described, it was a “completely tremendous experience, exceeded literally every other leadership/entrepreneurship event I’ve ever had the chance to attend.” They learned about several key-ingredients in the secret sauce at Stanford, including the importance of optimizing SPACE for creative thinking, to “unencumber the mind from constraints”. They learned about being EMPATHETIC, which allows them to get at the root of the source of the problems for people instead of just treating symptoms of assumed problems. They were involved in 2-hour and 12-hour DESIGN CHALLENGES saying, “it was cool to work with a team of strangers to get something done.” They attended a lecture with Tom Byers that “broke down entrepreneurship” and spent some one-on-one time with Byers who inspired them to lead an E&I movement on their campuses.

Off-campus, they met examples of rising-star INTRAPRENEURS at Google and EBay/PayPal and saw first-hand how Google’s open workspaces, casual atmosphere, and amenities like free food and laundry service maintain happy/healthy/productive people who foster an their inherent culture of design thinking, creativity and innovation. Students returned to the d.lab to have a one-on-one with CEO Rick Klau of Google Ventures who imparted words of wisdom like “beware of small successes”, and kicked-off roundtables with 12 portfolio company CEOs. Student Ambassadors also attended lectures and signature classes like the Entrepreneurship Thought Leaders Series (top download from iTunes U) with the four founders of SkyBox Imaging, followed by a discussion of their backstories with the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Class, taught by Draper Fisher Jurvetson Partner Heidi Roizen.

All-in-all, the trip was amazing, exhausting and inspiring. Students Ambassadors are all digesting the experience and returning to their campuses having bottled a bit of the magic. Stay tuned for more as we develop step-by-step materials that teach Student Ambassador how to implement the implementable on their campuses. In the meantime, recruit a Student Ambassador to attend our Spring Training, which begins at the OPEN Conference on March 21st of this month (register here: Apply).

~ Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming, T: @ihumera

UPDATE 3/26/13: View additional photos at the Epicenter Facebook Album.

Nine Top Performers Announced! Trip to Stanford E-Week.

Nine Top Performers Announced! Trip to Stanford E-Week.

John Oliver, pictured above in blue, is one of nine recognized as a Top Performer.

John Oliver at Penn State is one of nine students who is being recognized as one of our 2012-2013 Top Performers. He is called out amongst the 27 Student Ambassadors not for the 2 concurrent SPARKs he led during Global Entrepreneurship Week, nor for the awards event that culminated, but rather for the Ultimate Trader Challenge that is taking off with more thrust than the Space Shuttle! Inspired by the Canadian who traded up a red paper clip to a house over a year and 14 trades, the Challenge at Penn will start with a blue pen and has been featured in this week’s campus paper, The Collegian, and on radio B94.5 The Morning Zoo Crew.

Now THIS is student-led impact… for a first-time competition, there are 110 already signed up to trade up from a blue pen to goodness knows what else! Even if it only engages 110 traders, that’s countless others who will trade with them and watch from the sidelines. What does trading have to do with entrepreneurship? Well, this exercise in particular teaches participants about the value (or perceived value) of an object. It teaches people to get behind your entrepreneurial vision and support you in your quest to trade up to something meaningful. It teaches you that you don’t get what you don’t ask for AND you’ll never attain a goal by watching on the sidelines. That is entrepreneurship. To generate value, get behind a goal, inspire people and hustle. Now, imagine a huge campus like Penn State bit by the entrepreneurial bug… That is what movements are made of—go John! It’s no wonder that you are one of the 9 top performers we are rewarding with a trip to Stanford’s E-Week.

Aside from John Oliver of Penn State, the top performers include Sean Maroni of NCSU, Michelle Zwernemann and Nishant Kumar of Johns Hopkins, Lucas Arzola of UC Davis, Jack Goodwin of UCSD, Alexandra Halbeck of Tufts, Blake Marggraff of University of Washington St. Louis and Elliot Roth of Virginia Commonwealth University. They will spend five days and four nights in the Bay Area attending E-Week events at Stanford, meeting Google Ventures, meeting start-up founders and other luminaries.

If you are interested in becoming a Student Ambassador, or having one to lead an entrepreneurial movement on your campus, and would like to have a shot at prizes like the trip to Stanford E-Week, act fast! Registration for the Spring Training closes on March 21st. Students trained this spring and next fall hold their Student Ambassadorship for the ’13-’14 Academic Calendar (the spring training gives you the advantage of coming to NCIIA’s Open Conference and to learn from incubent student leaders on their campus, before some graduate and leave campus). We believe students can change the world. Join us in starting a movement on your campus.

~ Humera Fasihuddin, Manager of Student Programming, T: @ihumera