Indian Fellows in the Global Spotlight

Fellows from India have conducted design thinking workshops at several large global conferences. JSSATE Fellow Shivanika Shah shares reflections from several of those events.

By Shivanika Shah, Fellow, JSS Academy of Technical Education, Noida

The UIF program welcomed its first Fellows from India in Fall 2016, thanks to an international initiative supported by Google. Since that time, more than 300 Fellows from 40 institutions in India have joined the program. 

Fellows have been very active at their universities, holding workshops, creating organizations, and honing their facilitation skills. In 2017 and 2018, the UIF program team invited several groups of Fellows to help conduct design thinking workshops at large global conferences. Below are reflections on just a few of these events.

Google Developer Days, Bangalore

Google Developer Day events are web developer-focused gatherings around the world held annually by Google. They include seminars and codelabs focused on building of web, mobile, and enterprise applications with Google and open web technologies such as Android, HTML5, Chrome, App Engine, Google Web Toolkit. These events give participants an excellent chance to learn about Google developer products as well as meet the engineers who work on them. 

“This was the largest conference I’ve been to and it certainly didn’t disappoint!” said Fellow Asher John Sathya at CMR Institute of Technology.

Google conducted the GDD event on 1-2 December, 2017, in Bangalore, India. At the event, 16 Fellows conducted a design thinking workshop with the UIF Team. In order to take part in this opportunity, Fellows completed a challenge set by the UIF program to conduct a series of design thinking workshops at their own schools.

Attendees showed an amazing level of excitement and interest for the event. “I still remember that the seating capacity in the hall was for 120 and we had the longest queue of about 400 candidates waiting in advance to attend our workshop,” said Priyanka Srivastava, a Fellow at CMR Institute of Technology.

In addition to students, many tech enthusiasts and professionals were part of the 3-hour-long workshop.

At the end of the day, Fellows learned, networked and collaborated with tech professionals of various different companies and domains. 

“We acted as knowledge transfers to the working professionals.” said Fellow Siddhartha Mondreti of Godavari Institute of Engineering and Technology. “The most exciting part was that we learned tech opportunities from them and we gave them design thinking skills.”

The Fellows made the best use of this opportunity to create an impact.

“There are many people who are using design thinking as a part of their daily lives in different ways,” said Suchitra Nidiginti, a Fellow at Madanapalle Institute of Technology and Science. “After the workshop when all the participants in my team came and shared that his workshop had taught them different ways to implement design thinking, I felt happy.”

“Conducting a workshop for the experienced attendees was the hardest part,” said Fellow Sameer Ahmed M N of Madanapalle Institute of Technology and Science. “But after conducting the workshop, I learned that it’s not about age. Everything depends upon the worth of knowledge that you are sharing and the energy of positivity that you are passing on with confidence. Then everyone will be ready to accept what you are sharing with keen observation.”

“I feel that design thinking will surely help them in their fields, because in programming it’s 90% design and 10% coding,” said Fellow Sai Kiran of Madanapalle Institute of Technology and Science.

Developer Students Club Summit, Goa

Google India conducted the Developer Students Club summit for the first time February 23-25, 2018, in Goa. The goals of the event were to broaden access to world-class technology curricula for students and to make it easy for students and developers to gain the skills they need to be successful in the changing technology landscape.  

The attendees learned about various emerging technologies through a series of engaging sessions from experts from Google and industry as well as through one-to-one mentoring activities.

11 Indian Fellows had the opportunity to conduct a 4-hour design thinking workshop with UIF team member Ghanashyam S in Goa as part of the event. The workshop participants were 200 students from 98 cities across 170 colleges in India. 

During the workshop, attendees collaborated with a wide range of professionals from industries such as retail, travel, fitness, music, body art, and shipbuilding. The participants used design thinking on real life problems and designed multiple, scalable and reliable solutions for the professionals. 

“In my team, they were trying to solve the problem of a musician who’s passionate about passing on his knowledge in music to others,” said Sai Kiran, a Fellow at Madanapalle Institute of Technology and Science (MITS). “He was not able to find ways of doing so. He said that teaching music to others is what makes him happy.”

“My team interacted with a gym instructor whose major problem is advertising,” said MITS Fellow Suchitra Nidiginti. “The solutions for the same ranged from giving free gifts to customers developing an app for the gym. Students felt very happy when they figured out solutions to a problem.”

In general, the Fellows had a great experience conducting the design thinking workshop. It was a unique opportunity for the Fellows to learn, collaborate and create impact.

“As we are dealing with the actual problem solvers, the thing we have to do is to show them the path to find the best possible solution. From that point, the ball will be in their court, said Fellow Sameer Ahmed M N of MITS. “Teaching that proper and effective connection to bridge the gap taught me how to understand the recipients’ requirements and to model the teaching methodology.”

“I was thrilled and super excited by the idea that people use coding to make a difference in the lives of others,” said Sai Kiran.

Fellow Priyanka Srivastava was impressed with participants’ desire to tackle and solve real world problems. “The feedback I got from the attendees at the end of the workshop was that his is an  innovative approach, and an interesting and interactive way of prototyping for real world problems.”

Deshpande Foundation, Hubballi

Indian University Innovation Fellows had a chance to facilitate a design thinking workshop in the prestigious Deshpande Foundation’s Development Dialogue on the 3rd and 4th February, 2018 at Hubballi, Karnataka.

Development Dialogue is an international social entrepreneurship ecosystem conference that brings together numerous social entrepreneurs as well as those who believe in and are involved in creating ecosystems to nurture innovation and entrepreneurship. The conference is attended by participants from for-profits, global visionaries, impact investors as well as local communities to share proven models, innovations, and transforming perspectives.

The Fellows held 5 sessions, each 2 hours long, for diverse groups of people like leaders of the Deshpande Foundation, participants of conference and students from various organizations.

“I facilitated for groups of 6 to 22 students!” said Fellow Asher John Sathya. “Each group was unique. There were groups of college students, high school students and other groups had members from the various programs run by the foundation.” 

The Fellows familiarized attendees with the design thinking and then asked them to apply the methodology to the various problems they face in their daily lives.

“Students came up with different problems like communication, stage fear, pollution, lacking practical knowledge, smart village, etc. They came up with crazy solutions to the problems they defined,” said Fellow Sindhu Bhonsley. 

The Fellows faced the challenge of communication as a barrier while interacting with the attendees, as some of them spoke local languages which Fellows weren’t fluent in. But being the true Fellows, they didn’t stop; they adjusted and collaborated with the attendees and made the event a success.

“I was able to explain to them in Telugu and Hindi very well, but my Kannada was not that fluent. Somehow I managed to explain them in Kannada and they helped me to explain to them in their language.” said Sindhu Bhonsley.

At the end, the event was a success and Fellows experienced both a challenging and life changing event.

“This event is one that has totally changed the way that I look at people and the way I think,” said Kollu Nishkala. “This is a place where I met students from different educational backgrounds. There were some students among them who can not even understand what others speak due to lack of basic communication skills and lack of basic knowledge on things. After this event, I have started going to some government schools in my locality and started interacting with students and teaching some spoken English and technical classes.”

“Though it was a bit difficult to conduct workshop for almost 80 students for each session, I got inspired by their energy levels. They were very happy about the workshop and most of them said that they have come out with great insights and learnings related to leadership. Overall it helped me connect with the people’s problems and get to know more about the issues they are facing in their lives,” said Anitha Narnavaram.

“Facilitating design thinking is always a fun learning for both the facilitators and also for the participants because it always makes us to learn how to deal with many different types of people. We received a good feedback from the attendees who participated in the workshop we could also see the zeal in them to learn more about design thinking,” said Sindhu Bhonsley.

Learning to Lead Change Together

University Innovation Fellows and faculty explored new ways to reimagine higher education during the Silicon Valley Meetup in March 2017.

by Laurie Moore

A team of Fellows brainstorming at Google during the Silicon Valley Meetup, March 2017. Photo by Patrick Beaudouin.

On a sunny afternoon in March at Stanford University, several hundred students designed experiments to test out new learning opportunities at their schools. An hour later, they listened, rapt, as Stephanie Santoso shared with them what it was like to help create the first ever White House Maker Faire. An hour after that, they were dancing to Bollywood music. They had breakthrough insights, forged new friendships with students from other countries, and listened as their peers shared their personal stories of struggle. This is the University Innovation Fellows Silicon Valley Meetup.

Nearly 300 Fellows and 30 faculty sponsors from 77 universities in 8 countries traveled to the San Francisco Bay Area on March 9-13, 2017, for the University Innovation Fellows (UIF) program’s signature event, the Silicon Valley Meetup. Attendees took part in immersive experiences at Stanford University’s, Google, Microsoft and other Silicon Valley organizations.

The Meetup was the culmination of the 6-week, video conference-based online training for Fellows who joined the program in Fall 2016 and Spring 2017. This training helps Fellows understand their campus ecosystems and design educational opportunities for their peers. At the Meetup, Fellows took part in experiential workshops and exercises designed to inspire them, give them opportunities to collaborate with different schools, and provide them with tools to take action when they return to their home institutions. The activities focused on topics including movement building, innovation spaces, how to design and facilitate learning experiences, and new models for change in higher education.

The event kicked off on Thursday night with registration and dinner, where students sampled some of Silicon Valley’s best food trucks below strings of outdoor lights. During registration, attendees met their super-hero-themed teams and team leaders. These team leaders were 24 Fellows who acted as mentors to the participants, facilitated workshops, and gave short talks throughout the event.

On Friday morning, the Fellows hopped on charter buses and headed to their first Meetup location: Google. The group was hosted by Dr. Frederik Pferdt, Chief Innovation Evangelist. They took part in hands-on activities and learned about the innovation culture at Google, research on effective teams, and Google’s People Development group — a fresh take on the role of a human resources department.

Fellows prototyping a game at Google. Photo by Patrick Beaudouin.

They also heard about the University Innovation Fellows program’s expansion into India from William Florance, Google’s Head of University Programs for Developer Training. Thanks to Google-funded expansion, 77 students from India have joined the program; 38 of those Fellows attended the Meetup. Three Fellows from CMR Institute of Technology in Bengaluru also shared their stories and experiences in India.

“Technology brings us into the future, but our creativity decides how this future will be shaped,” said Pferdt. “Every year, I am excited to be able to experience that contagious creativity the Fellows bring to Google and how they are tackling challenges as change agents at universities across the U.S. and now the world. It has been a great honor for me to host the Fellows for the last 5 years. Every time, I am confident that our future is in good hands.”

The Fellows visited the program’s home at Stanford University’s for the first time on Saturday, March 11. They spent the day taking part in activities to help them reimagine learning, including sessions on storytelling and the ways space influences behavior. For one session, on how to leverage different thinking styles when working in teams, attendees wore t-shirts representing the colors of their default thinking styles. The result was a rainbow of students and faculty filling the to the brim, demonstrating the diversity of approaches that they can take when working together.

Participants also heard from several speakers. Stanford professor Tom Byers hosted a panel of education and entrepreneurship thought leaders: Steve Blank, often referred to as the father of the Lean Startup movement; Errol Arkilic, who was instrumental in the creation of the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps (Innovation Corps); and Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Obama.

Tom Byers hosts a panel discussion at Stanford’s with Steve Blank, Errol Arkilic and Tom Kalil. Photo by Patrick Beaudouin.

Another speaker at the event was Daniel Seddiqui, known for his journey of working 50 Jobs in 50 States when he struggled to find a job after college. Seddiqui shared his wildly entertaining story with Fellows about his “job prototyping” experience, which included roles like a stilt walker at an amusement park in Florida and a coal miner in West Virginia. He encouraged Fellows to find the drive within themselves to overcome the challenges and rejections that they will face as they explore the world.

On Sunday, the Fellows visited Microsoft, where they were hosted by Jeff Ramos, manager of The Microsoft Garage, a project division that helps Microsoft employees solve problems in innovative ways. Innovators at Microsoft shared their insights on how to shift culture within an institutional setting and urged Fellows to push themselves out of their comfort zone to pursue different experiences.

Following the talks, Fellows took part in an unconference, during which Fellows set the agenda and organized around topics of interest. The topics ranged from “How might we create and promote diversity and inclusive excellence on our college campuses?” to “Rethinking freshmen orientation to promote I&E [innovation and entrepreneurship].” View photos of all the topics and ideas here.

Fellows discuss ideas during an unconference at Microsoft. Photo by Patrick Beaudouin.

The Fellows came back to the for the final stretch of the event — an exploration on leading change. They were asked to pick a goal and brainstorm quick experiments that would help them test out their ideas. During the workshop, several community members provided inspiration and shared how they applied design thinking to their projects of reimagining philanthropy, tackling homelessness and reforming K-12 education.

After creating their experiments, Fellows heard from Stephanie Santoso, who served as the Senior Advisor for Making at the White House under President Obama. There, she helped develop the Nation of Makers initiative, the first White House Maker Faire and the National Week of Making. Santoso spoke about inclusion and challenged Fellows to spread the experience of the maker movement to communities that lack access.

A panel of Fellows discuss makerspaces with Stephanie Santoso (far right). Photo by Patrick Beaudouin.

“Constantly thinking about who else should be at the table, who should we be talking to, whose voice should be represented here is super important,” Santoso said. Her last piece of advice: “Always have fun!…It’s important to remember in the work you’re doing.”

There was one surprise left: a tradition upheld at every Meetup. Participants were each given sheets of colorful paper and asked to write an insight or takeaway from the meetup. They folded the paper into airplanes and launched them into the air. Each person caught an airplane that wasn’t theirs, read it, and shared it with others around them, spreading the insights from one person to many.

Fellow Mahshid Jalalian shares her takeaway from the Meetup before folding it into a paper airplane. Photo by Patrick Beaudouin.

“Being at the UIF meetup this year was really life-changing. It was empowering to be surrounded by so many people who care about changing the world for the better and are actually taking steps to do that,” said Kelly Rodriguez, a Fellow at Pepperdine University. She tweeted a video of the flurry of paper airplanes, writing “Do you ever have those moments where you just knew you were supposed to be ‘here’? That’s what happened this weekend.”

It’s hard to describe the general feeling in the room as hundreds of people launched their brightly colored paper insights into the open space of the atrium. Some smiled, some laughed, some shielded their eyes from the downpour of paper, some wiped tears from their eyes. But whatever they felt— inspired, tired, excited, sad, hopeful— everyone belonged.

View all photos, videos and resources from the Meetup at

A Weekend of Fashion and Creation

Sometimes you’ll make stuff that’s crap and people will applaud it, and sometimes you make something that you think is brilliant and no one cares. You just have to keep creating. — Kevin Wolfgang, Director of TechStyle Lab at Kent State

Originally posted by Zack Jones on

I had the pleasure of spending a weekend in the Kent State University Fashion TechStyle Lab with the University Innovation Fellows Program. As an entrepreneurship major, creation is something I’m strongly interested in, but physical making and hands-on work have never been in my skill set.

We were first given a tour of all the cool tech in the lab. There was a laser cutter, a weaving machine, a body scanner, and a 3d printer, to name a few. Then, there was a demo time for us to learn basic skills that we might need during the makeathon. I chose to learn how use Adobe illustrator for the laser cutter and the basics of arduino. Next, we were sent off to create anything wearable.

My Arduino set up and ready to blink an LED

After fumbling around trying to make magnetic shoelaces for about 2 hours, I pivoted to making a scarf. This is when the magic happened. I looked at this clean piece of fabric and tried to picture the end product. This was the toughest part. I had to think not in three dimensions, but FOUR! How can anything be conceived like this? Not only did the piece have three physical dimensions, but I had to envision what it would look like after I flipped it inside out and factored in this motion associated with the time dimension!

Luckily, the lab was full of experts who were willing to help to no end. This, to me, was the beauty of the experience. The willingness for people to share their knowledge and pass on their expertise was evident. With this help, it truly felt like anything was possible. I had no idea what I was doing at any given moment, but the people that surrounded me completed me and helped me achieve a final product.

The scarf I made on display at Kent State University

Here are a few takeaways from my first Makeathon/Hackathon experience:

Creation is amazing: conceiving something, putting in the work and seeing it come to be is extremely rewarding. It’s always a learning experience because unforeseen obstacles always arise.

Focus is powerful: You’d be amazed at how much you can accomplish in a few focused hours that you devote to a single project.

You have more time than you think you do: We’re all busy. No one feels like they have free time and newsflash: you’re never going to feel ready to start something new! (For more on that, check out this Ted Talk.) You need to set time aside in the future to get out of your comfort zone and you will not regret it.

More people need to try this! I’ve come back to campus with a renewed enthusiasm for encouraging innovation on here at University of Delaware.

Overall, the Hackathon/Makeathon environment was incredibly inspiring. Not only was I able to create something, but I was able to witness everyone around me turn their ideas into reality. I feel gifted to have had this opportunity to travel and learn from so many talented people.

Thank you to all that made this possible and I’m looking forward to Delhack this weekend!

Zachary_Jones_Headshot_Square_small.jpegWritten by Zack Jones, University of Delaware
Zack Jones is studying entrepreneurship and technology innovation at the University of Delaware. To learn more about him and his priorities for campus, click here:

Tags: UIF Events

UC Berkeley Ambassador Speaks at Smithsonian, Washington D.C.

Jared Karp, Student Ambassador from University of California Berkeley, spoke at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in an event entitled, “Spaces of Invention.”


The six-speaker event, held as part of the NCIIA Open Conference in Collaboration with Epicenter and was delivered Pecha Kucha-style (also known in some circles as an Ignite talk). In 15 slides that auto-advanced every 15 seconds, Jared Karp, a 3rd year Mechanical Engineering major at Berkeley, captivated the audience with his team’s quest to bring a Stanford d.School and IDEO-esque design space to the Engineering School at UC Berkeley. The result of their work, the Design Engineering Collaborative is a space now claimed by the Engineering Department as their own and is used by student clubs and faculty alike. Less lecturing and more hands-on making will create more inventive and innovative engineers, is the premise under which Jared Karp, Adam Eastman and other core team members are operating. NCIIA has seen many faculty espousing this belief in its 17 year history, but it’s the first time we’ve seen a student-led effort to make it so. Student Ambassadors joining the program will learn catalytic strategies like these to institutionalize a maker culture within their STEM Colleges and Universities. To see Jared’s 3.5 minute talk, advance to 32:40 of the following YouTube video of all six talks.

The five other speakers include faculty who describe their Design Kitchens and maker spaces from the collegiate through K-12 arenas. They include:

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

Robert Tercek Delivers Riveting Address at 17th Annual OPEN Conference

tercekphoto(38)Twenty Student Ambassadors sat at the edge of their seats for today’s lunch keynote by Robert Tercek who spoke about the future of many of today’s companies driven by change sin mobile and information technology. Ten Student Ambassadors waited in line to meet Tercek, run an idea by him or invite him to keynote their campus events. His premise is that anything that can be ‘vaporized’ – miniaturized or made into software – will be vaporized.

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

Record 4,500 Submissions to U-Michigan 1,000 Pitches

1000pitchesThe 5th annual University of Michigan drew a record 4,500 submissions to its 1,000 Pitches Competition. Organizers announced winners in each of the nine categories. The competition, led by campus organization M-Powered, invites undergrad and grad students to submit 3-minute videos of their technology or business pitch online.

From the organization’s website, the competition was conceived in 2007 by two U-M students and MPowered’s founders, Ashwin L. and Israel V., when they were attending a conference in Silicon Valley. They realized the lack of entrepreneurial passion within their university compared to those in the Bay Area and knew quick changes were needed if Michigan was to keep up. The competition has had the quite the impact. Says Jeremy Klaben, “the 1,000 Pitches competition generates lots of buzz and excitement about entrepreneurship at U-Mich.” We should think so given the entire student body is 45,000 in enrollment!

To read more about this year’s results, visit the U-Mich website. To see the video submissions, go to the 1,000 Pitches website.

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

Huffington Post Article on Cooper Union’s Invention to Venture (I2V)

I2V Mention

Cooper Union I2V Covered in Huffington Post

Congratulations to Cooper Union Student Ambassador Sharang Phadke who held his first Invention to Venture (I2V) and received a terrific mention in a Huffington Post blog piece, In the End, We Are All Entrepreneurs, by John Pavley. I2V is a day-long event is a crash course for University-based scientists and engineers interested in seeing their innovations commercialized or pursuing an entrepreneurial venture.

Pavley, who also spoke at the event, reaffirming what we know about Cooper Union’s commitment to Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In describing the energy at Cooper, the CTO of Huffington Post says “The engineering students, educators, and alumni I met this Saturday proved to me that the I2V idea is working. Even at 8 a.m. the students were wide awake and asking tough questions. In fact, it was the students who setup and ran the event. The Cooper Union professors spoke to me about how focused they were on creating an environment for innovation and making sure their students graduated with the business acumen needed for starting and running their own businesses. The alumni told great stories about how they tried and failed again and again until they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams at solving real world problems — while building businesses.”

With students as committed to this vision as Sharang Phadke and his team, Cooper Union has a promising future in producing the nation’s brightest problem solvers. For the entire blog post, click here.

Sparking Entrepreneurship at UC Davis

On Monday October 8, 44 students and 2 professors came together for the first ever Engineering and Technology Entrepreneurship Club (E-TEC) general meeting at UC Davis. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, and graduate students from all engineering disciplines on campus were represented. Students from chemistry, biology, and business also attended the meeting. The event consisted of an overview of E-TEC’s mission to provide a space for engineering, science, and technology students at UC Davis to learn more about technology entrepreneurship, become aware of university and national resources available for student entrepreneurs, exchange ideas, form teams that can participate in the entrepreneurship programs on campus organized by the UC Davis Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and ultimately help create more student startups. Attendees watched a video about leadership, and participated from 2 exercises that sparked their entrepreneurial thinking. These “sparks” stimulated individual creativity, teamwork, and idea generation in students, while providing them the opportunity to practice pitching ideas to an audience. The activities were well received by the students. Participants had fun while learning more about entrepreneurship and innovation. Nine students have volunteered to become officers of E-TEC and help catalyze entrepreneurship and innovation among engineers and scientists on the UC Davis campus. These leaders are: Michelle Lozada, Gil Benezer, Eric Berg, James Hawkinson, Sebastian Anaya, Virgil Zhang, Natalie Qabazard, Karthika Pai, and Nick Mahoney. E-TEC’s faculty advisor will be Dr. Bruce White, Associate Dean of the UC Davis College of Engineering.

Next event: Invention to Venture UC Davis on October 29.


– Lucas Arzola

Epicenter Retreat, Sierra Camp at Lake Tahoe

A discussion of online courses by the lake at #epiRetreat on Twitpic

NCIIA Staff are together with Stanford partners at the Epicenter Retreat where close to 75 Engineering Deans, Faculty and Administrators are engaging in an ‘Unconference’.

Participant tweets reveal teams engaging in prototyping, discussion of online courses and more. Tune in to the hashtag #epiretreat for more.

UT Austin – Student Entrepreneurship Conference

UT Austin – Student Entrepreneurship Conference

On Saturday September 15th the Technology Entrepreneurship Society and Scientific Entrepreneurship Society are teaming up to co-host the first ever UT Student Entrepreneurship Conference to provide the student body with exposure to the startup community at UT. The event will consist of two panels, a student startup showcase and free lunch thanks to the Austin Small Business Development Program. We have recruited the best faculty, staff and private sector startup experts to share opportunities available to undergraduate and graduate students on-campus and around Austin. Click on the link for more information about the panelist and to RSVP. Yours truly will be there to assist the hosting organizations and find potential NCIIA grantees.

– Isaac Daniel Sanchez

Students find Pathways to Healthcare Innovation

Harvard successfully hosted its second event on Student Pathways to Healthcare Innovation last Wednesday, April the 25th.  Four speakers talked for fifteen minutes each on their experiences and advice for traveling in the biotech entrepreneurial world.  Dr. Youseph Yazdi, the Executive Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design, inspired the crowd and especially professors with the innovative approaches his initiative is taking to teach medical design.  He believes firmly that the widely regarded saying “bench to bedside” is missing a fundamental step: the inspiration for medical technology must come from a medical need thus changing the saying to from “bedside to bench to bedside”.  Eric Elenko explained how his company, PureTech Ventures, takes an incubator style approach to the venture capital model.  He hopes through using his own team as the initial board and organizing body they can faster start and develop new ventures before handing the company off to a new leadership.  John Simon of General Catalyst Partners explained the nuances of being a medtech entrepreneur and taking a company that he started through to the public sphere.  He emphasized the importance of taking the high risk leap to start a company as it is is hugely rewarding and stressed that the only failure is failure of trying.  Lastly, Ravi Pamnani of the Stanford Biodesign Program discussed the process for becoming a medtech entrepreneur and especially the importance of having a world class team each with more than one expertise.  The event was a wild success in the eyes of the audience who found it to be one of the most insightful speaker showcases on the topic at Harvard thus far.

Startup UCLA and TEC-Bruins Spring Networking Night!

Where: Young Research Library (YRL) Room 11348 (North Campus), in the Northeast corner of YRL, behind Cafe 451
When: Wednesday, April 18th, 2012, 6-9pm

Register Now

Do you want to join a startup? Or are you starting a company and looking for people to join your team? Or maybe just interested in meeting other members of LA’s start-up scene? Startup UCLA and TEC Bruins can help with our Spring Networking Night! The event will run from 6-9 p.m. Wednesday April 18 and will feature food, a mixer, a panel presentation on networking tips and tricks, and a recruitment fair for UCLA start-ups. No matter where you are in your plans, this is your chance to really connect with people who can help you achieve your start-up goals.

Space at the event will be first-come, first-served, so please register as soon as possible to make sure you’ll get a space.

Event Details
6-7 p.m.: Reception (free food!) in YRL Presentation Room
7-7:45: Networking panel presentation by Alex Capecelatro ( and Nick Davis ( and Q&A in YRL Conference Room
7:45-9: [Track A: Recruitment Fair] in YRL Presentation Room: Startup companies will have table space and will be able to talk to interested recruits. Startups can use our RSVP form to register for their table.
7:45-9: [Track B: Mixer] in YRL Conference Room: For those who don’t need to recruit people to their startup or aren’t at the stage where they’re ready to join a team, they will have a chance to practice their networking skills and techniques in a mixer immediately following the panel.

Eric Ries (author of The Lean Startup) to Speak at UCLA

Eric Ries is the creator of the Lean Startup methodology, author of The Lean Startup, and the author of the popular entrepreneurship blog Startup Lessons Learned. He previously co-founded and served as Chief Technology Officer of IMVU. In 2007, BusinessWeek named Ries one of the Best Young Entrepreneurs of Tech and in 2009 he was honored with a TechFellow award in the category of Engineering Leadership. He serves on the advisory board of a number of technology startups, and has worked as a consultant to a number of startups, companies, and venture capital firms. In 2010, he became an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Harvard Business School.

Eric Reis will speak at Shoenberg Hall. NCIIA and the Technical Entreprenuerial Community will be showcased at this event.

Janet Zhou Inspires at First Startup UCLA Event

Janet Zhou filled the room at the first Startup UCLA event last Thursday evening. More than 100 members of the UCLA community attended, and most stayed well past the official ending time. Janet started her talk with this point: it used to be that when you graduated college you could either get a job or go to graduate school. Now there is another option: start your own venture. Based on her own experiences, Janet discussed four lessons she has learned – ones we all would be well advised to attend to.

Lesson 1: Choose your partners carefully. Who you work with is much more important than your business idea, according to Janet.

Lesson 2: Learn to fail. Being able to recognize the shortcomings of your own idea, and then quickly revise and improve it, is critical for success.

Lesson 3: Take advantage of “the golden years.” Many of the most successful startup teams (think Larry and Sergei) met as students. Being a student not only gives you access to an incredible talent pool, but also gives you license to do things – and approach people – you cannot do as easily once you are older.

Lesson 4: Learn to tell a good story. Getting your idea off the ground will depend to a large degree on your ability to explain, in stories, what you idea is, and how it can connect with all kinds of people.

UCLA – High Technology Market Segmentation with Prof. Bob Foster

The Technical Entrepreneurial Community (TEC) and the Engineering Graduate Student Association (EGSA) present an entrepreneurship seminar on market segmentation featuring Prof. Bob Foster, a distinguished professor in the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Prof. Foster will discuss how to define and segment target markets, gauging the competition, and winning strategies that maximize resources. This seminar will also provide information about niche markets, and what it means to be a be a big fish in a small pond.

University of Tennessee Health Science Center – Invention to Venture Tennessee 2011!

Just imagine a room filled with entrepreneurs: tall ones, short ones, rich ones, poor ones, experts, and novices… the list goes on and on. These entrepreneurs travelled from all over—Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Texas, and Arkansas. All of these entrepreneurs united for Invention to Venture: Tennessee 2011! Sessions were lively with questions and discussion! Topics included:

Idea Validation & Opportunity Assessment by Mike Sherman of MB Venture Partners

Sales & Marketing in the Life Sciences by Patrick Wilson of Medtronic

Building the Team by Jan Bouten of Innova and Allan Daisley of Memphis Bioworks Foundation

Finding the Funds Panel by Andrew Seamons of Pittco Capital Partners, Eric Mathews of LaunchMemphis and Brad Silver of Computable Genomics

Intellectual Property & Licensing by Susan Fentress of Harris Shelton Hanover Walsh, PLLC

FDA & Regulations by Michael Meagher of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Business Planning in the Life Science by Michael Graber of Southern Growth Studio

The highlight of the event was the Experiences in Entrepreneurship Luncheon featuring Pitt Hyde, Founder of AutoZone. The event even attracted media attention from The Commercial Appeal (check out the article at Overall, Invention to Venture: Tennessee 2011 was a huge success. Thanks to all of the speakers and the organization team that made it happen!

~Dee Helton, Student Ambassador at UT Health Science Center

UTexas – Talking Startups with Michael Dell

It has been an exciting month at the University of Texas.  Just in time for National Entrepreneurship Week,  I hosted Michael Dell at an interactive event discussing his experiences beginning a startup in college and becoming the youngest CEO of a fortune 500 company.  It was a full house!  477 excited students, faculty, and community members crowded in to hear Mr. Dell be interviewed by Dr. Bob Metcalfe, inventor of ethernet, founder of 3Com Corp., former partner at Polaris Ventures, and current professor of innovation at UT-Austin.  After a lively 45 minute interview, the floor was opened up to students for questions.  Afterwards, Mr. Dell joined students at the reception for more intimate interaction.  He was an engaging, genuine speaker and excited to interact with young budding entrepreneurs.  Read further coverage of the story here.

Dr. Bob Metcalfe interviews Michael Dell

Dell talks to students

Pitching the upcoming NCIIA Social Innovation Bootcamp on UT Austin Campus

Another very exciting development is the joint hosting of a VentureLab on UT-Austin’s campus.  The Dell Social Innovation Competition (DSCIC) has been a part of the UT campus for a few years.  Last year they had over 1400 applicants from all over the world.  The winner of the competition receives $50K to accelerate work on their venture.  Last year, Dell donated $5M to support the initiative and keep the program running.  This year, the NCIIA has teamed up with the DSIC to host the Social Innovation Bootcamp January 12-16.

On Tuesday Nov. 29th, the first ever Made In Austin career fair was put on by the folks at Campus2Careers and the Austin Chamber of Commerce.  The job fair brought together 350 students and 93 of central Texas’ fastest growing startups.   The event was the first focused entirely on connecting talent with startups.

Thursday Dec. 1 was the 1 Semester Startup Demo Day – the culmination of the work the 72 Longhornpreneurs have been doing on their 20 startups in the 1 Semester Startup class.  The teams pitched to a room of about 200 attendees – investors, media, follow classmates, and instructors.  Read more coverage by the Silicon Hill News and The Daily Texan.

Great end to a great year.  Hook ’em!

1SS Showcased on the jumbotron while UT Longhorns practice

Hindsight: Successes and Mistakes

Everyone who attended TEDxBU “Students Startup America” said is was great – informative and inspirational. However, as an organizer I could tell you everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. The 150 attendees witnessed a sliver of the chaos, but luckily our strong lineup of speakers saved the day.

Looking back, I now understand SO much more about what it takes for an event like this to be successful. The three things I wish I had done a better job on were:

  1. More central location – The engineering building was a great location, but it did not attract as large a range of students as we had intended. The venue I picked was not common knowledge among the BU student population. Next time, the Entrepreneurship Club will check out a larger and more central location.
  2. Start with a bigger team – I cannot stress this enough. I wish I had reruited more team members early on. We had 3 very talented people on our team, but the workload was still too large for us to execute it effectively. I wish I had recruited 6 people.
  3. Raise more money – Having seen the costs associated with this project firsthand, I would like to raise much more funding for the next event. This would allow me a better venue, more food, and a better technical staff.

Despite having been warned about these pitfalls during training, there is nothing like experiencing them firsthand to really understand them.

On a positive note, there has been support at BU for sending me and perhaps one other student to a TED Talk so that our next TEDxBU can be larger and more influential. Very exciting!

– Joseph McMahon, Boston University

Columbia University – TEDxColumbiaEngineering

TEDxColumbiaEngineering focused on the theme of “Innovating Social Change” will be held on November 29th, 2011.

It will be a day devoted to spreading great ideas and inspiring innovation at Columbia University. We are planning for a crowd of more than 1,500 attendees for the three sessions. Although registration is not open yet, we are inviting interested students to add their email address to be notified about our publicity events and when registration is open:

Also, please like and follow us!/TEDxColumbiaEng.

– Dmitriy Timerman

TEDxEuclidAve at UC Berkeley


Cal students are spreading the word about how to positively transform the world through entrepreneurship. In this trying times, it seems like all we ever hear is negative news. We are pummeled with the debt crisis, the decline of public education, the spread of HIV aids and so forth. It is enough to make you want to run for cover and give in to nihilism.

Well, I am crazy enough to believe that this moment with all its accompanying woes presents a unique opportunity for us to craft new solutions that are both economically sustainable and social redeeming. Sometimes things have to fall apart so that we can build it anew.

TEDxEuclidAve speakers are examples of people who are well aware of the problem and have crafted various solutions to ameliorate it. All of them have done this through entrepreneurship, some through non-profits and others through for profit.

Hopefully this event empowers the attendees by displaying tangible examples of what happens when science, engineering and technology meets entrepreneurship and social good. TEDxEuclidAve hopes to change the metaphor “Business is War,” to “Business is Community.” Lets go forth and invent the future.

Omoju Miller, UC Berkeley

BU eClub is raising up a storm

The Boston University eClub really has its act together. I met with president Max Veggeburg to discuss TEDxBU “Students Startup America” and he was all for it. He and other eClub board members have organized the Boston Startup Weekend, to be hosted at BU! For a small fee, students spend the weekend meeting influential entrepreneurs and working in teams to push a product towards market. Any full time Boston student can pay $25 for 7 meals and a 54 hour crash course in entrepreneurship.

Check it out:

Aside from that, there are plenty of opportunies hosted by the club to learn and grow. Last night I met with COO over pizza to discuss VC funding. There I ran into several underclassmen who are ready to start their own businesses and were eagerly taking notes. Before I knew it, Ryan Durkins and I were talking about a mutual friend and are scheduled for dinner Friday night. I cannot express the amount of opportunity there is for entrepreneurs here.

There is also a talk this Thursday: “10 Mistakes First-Time Founders Make, But Don’t Have To”. Highland Capital’s Alexander Taussig will be speaking. What a fantastic chance for Boston students to learn.

The other remarkable thing about the BU eClub is the amount of interconnectivity they have with other similiar student organizations: the Graduate Entrepreneur’s Club, Engineering Entrepreneur’s Club, etc. The advisors to the eClub are known far and wide and they are constantly hosting great events.

I have noticed, however, there is little to no attention paid to businesses and technologies with social impact. The more I talk about NCIIA grants, the more eyebrows I see being raised. Before we know it, the NCIIA will be well intertwined with BU and its brilliant student organizations.


Joe McMahon – NCIIA BU Student Ambassador

Art Center College of Design • $50 Challenge



The $50 Challenge at the Art Center College of Design was an event created to bring designers together to be entrepreneurs by combining their skills and creativity to build a small business in 24 hours. The challenge began with an inspirational talk about the spirit of entrepreneurship by Errol Gerson and an introduction to creative strategies by Fridolin Beisert . The joint forces of these two motivational instructors paved the way for teams of students to go out and experience fast and spontaneous entrepreneurship.

Teams were given $50 and asked to go out and make as much money as they could in 24 hours. The rules were simple: make as much as you can, return the $50 investment and keep the profit or cover the losses. 24 hours later teams reunited for story telling, pizza and prizes.

Well, but what did the teams do? There was a lucrative bookbinding course, making sandwiches, distributing sodas, making a music video, creating “provocative” water, drawing portraits, selling smiles and even selling wishes. This last group called “Popwish” sold wishes and popsicles for a dollar. This idea turned out to be a great success and they are now in the process of continuing the project beyond the challenge.

The Art Center College of Design is a school full of genuine curiosity, sparking creativity and directed passion, which makes it an incubator for potential young entrepreneurial spirits. The $50 Challenge was an event created to highlight these qualities and inspire the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

This event was organized by Impact • Design for Social Change and sponsored by NCIIA (National Collegiate Inventors & Innovators Alliance)




— Mariana Prieto •  NCIIA Student Ambassador for Art Center College of Design

Wake Forest University- Jumpstart Innovation

So where does one start?…

For those who are entrepreneurially minded, itching to create a venture but sans ideas or previous experience in start-ups, the whole entrepreneurial process may seem extremely daunting. There are several basics that every aspiring entrepreneur should learn about, including how to: generate innovative ideas, analyze and target specific markets and industries, synthesize business models, create sustainable financial models, and pitch effectively. Take a look at the following NCIIA- sponsored workshops at Wake Forest University to get an idea of entrepreneurial essentials for jumpstarting innovation

Upcoming Entrepreneurial Workshops at Wake Forest University:

The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Process: Sources of Innovation | Date: 9/7/2011 | Time: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm | Location: Innovation Station, 230 Reynolda Hall | Link: http://entrepreneurship.wfu.ed…

This workshop kicks off the NCIIA-sponsored program of workshops and speakers, culminating in the Innovation to Venture Conference to be held in the spring. More details on this workshop will be forthcoming soon.  In the meantime, follow the link above to learn more about the series.

Grant Writing Workshop 1 – Industry & Market Analysis and Targeting | Date: 9/13/2011 | Time: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm | Location: Innovation Station, 230 Reynolda Hall | Link: http://entrepreneurship.wfu.ed…

The first of four grant writing workshops for students planning on applying for a new venture seed grant. In order to be successful, a venture needs to have a clear and compelling competitive advantage.  To identify that competitive advantage, it is important to understand the industry and where the market potential is and to know specifically who the intended target is and why they would be motivated to buy.  This workshop will help you understand how to perform this analysis.
Grant Writing Workshop 2 – Competitive Advantage and The Business Model | Date: 9/20/2011 | Time: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm | Location: Innovation Station, 230 Reynolda Hall | Link: http://entrepreneurship.wfu.ed…

If you are wondering…How does the basic business model go together? How do I identify the resources I will need? How will I source and deliver my product or service? What are the key success factors? … then don’t miss this workshop. This workshop will consider the basic elements of the business model and how they work together.

Grant Writing Workshop 3 – Financial Model & Pricing | Date: 9/27/2011 | Time: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm | Location: Innovation Station, 230 Reynolda Hall | Link: http://entrepreneurship.wfu.ed…

This workshop will help you understand how to put together the financial model so that the business is sustainable. If you have an idea and are wondering…How much money do I need to get started? How should I set up the model so I have cash to operate the business? How will I ensure that the venture is sustainable? How should I price my product or service to be both competitive and profitable?… then this workshop is for you.

Grant Writing Workshop 4 – The Proposal and Pitch | Date: 9/29/2011 | Time: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm | Location: Innovation Station, 230 Reynolda Hall | Link: http://entrepreneurship.wfu.ed…

Often entrepreneurs have great ideas and have a sound business model, but their proposal is not well written and the funding pitch is weak.  Being successful at raising funds is a learned skill and requires training and rehearsal.  This workshop will help you hone your pitch so you will be more successful in getting the funds your venture idea deserves.

For more information, contact Lucy Lan (

– Lucy Lan, Student Ambassador at Wake Forest University

Anderson student’s start-up company competes for investors in Fast Pitch Competition

Anderson graduate student Jonathan Lehmann represented UCLA at the Fast Pitch Competition. He had 90 seconds to present his idea and earn funding for his company, KarmaGoat.

For the sixth year, UCLA hosted the Fast Pitch Competition apart of National Entrepreneurship Week, which is organized by the Los Angeles investment group called the Tech Coast Angels. Since founded in 1999, TCA has invested $100 million and received over $1 billion in returns from these investments, said Robert Jadon, co-chair of Fast Pitch. The competition consists of 8-10 entrepreneurs giving fast pitches to a panel of investors and other members of Southern California’s entrepreneurial community. Pitches are judged on the quality of the CEO’s presentation and the company’s investment potential.

Johnathan Lehmann, a UCLA Anderson Business School graduate student presented his idea to investors for funding. As Jonathan Lehmann prepared to move from Paris to Los Angeles, he compiled a bag of items he no longer wanted, but he felt they should go to people who would appreciate them as much as he did. Lehmann’s dilemma inspired him to create a Facebook-integrated website that would allow users to sell items on an online marketplace and give 85 percent of the proceeds to a charity of the seller’s choice. Lehmann spent the summer developing the business model for his new company, an online commerce site with proceeds going to charity, which he decided to call KarmaGoat. The name of the company represents two concepts. The cycle of rebirth defines karma. Quote: “The goat represents a commodity that, while not useful to the donor, acts as a source of food and clothing to the recipient”.

Boston University – Working with other Event Organizers

First things first, you need a team to make your event happen. In a city like Boston, students looking to break into the entrepreneurial world are very willing to lend a hand. Sometimes they have a commercially successful graduate student in mind, sometimes they are excited by your event and want to help, other times they will know someone else looking for help with their event.

After you speak with the graduate students to get them to show off their start up and after you rally a few students to help you out, it is vital to seek out other events that are taking place in your area. People running these events are helpful and knowledgeable. If you lend them a hand, they will return the favor. Maybe they know of a good location for your 100 person event, maybe they know where you can get discounted name tags, and in all likelihood, they will leverage their network for you. Both of you can have successful events by helping each other make them happen.

Here are my top four most important questions to ask other event coordinators:

  • Here are my skills and resources. How can I help?
  • What do our events have in common? How are they different?
  • Is your event before mine? Can I advertise at your event?
  • Who is sponsoring your event? Who might sponsor mine?
Getting these questions answered is crucial because you cannot devote all of your time towards an empty investment. As much as you may like the person you are helping, you are still a student, you may have a job, and you still have your own event to plan.
Remember – experienced event organizers have been through this before. They are the most helpful people when it comes to hosting your own event.
Joseph McMahon at Boston University

Columbia University – Resources for Inventors and Innovators

Photo via Jonathan Bell/flickr. Original photo at

So you’re a student with an idea for a start-up or invention. What do you do next?  The technology transfer office at your university will be one of your most valuable resources. At Columbia University, Tech Ventures helps launch an average of 10-12 start-up companies each year and can provide students and faculty with entrepreneurial resources. They can answer specific questions about your proposed idea or work with you to brainstorm about a potential business model. The Columbia Technology Ventures office ( will help you get started and will connect you to a wide array of resources at Columbia and in New York City. For more information about Tech Ventures at Columbia University, visit

What do you do after that? Get involved in local networking and entrepreneurial events to exchange ideas and potentially meet future investors.

Upcoming entrepreneurial events in New York City and Columbia University:

NYC Department of Defense (DoD) SBIR/STTR funding proposal workshop | Friday, September 9, 2011 | 8:30AM – 3:30PM | Levin Institute, 116 East 55th Street

Riverside chats: Anthony “Tony” Coyle, Pfizer Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of the Centers for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI) | Tuesday, September 13, 2011 | 6:00PM – 7:30PM | Location will be provided upon registration

Columbia networking night for entrepreneurs | Thursday, September 15, 2011 | 6:30PM – 8:30PM | Columbia University Club of New York, 15 West 43rd Street, New York City

Patents 101: Everything you always wanted to know about patents | Wednesday, September 21, 2011 | 12:30PM – 1:30PM | Columbia University, Morningside Campus, Uris 333

~ Dmitriy Timerman, Student Ambassador at Columbia University
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