Three Meinig School graduate students attend Silicon Valley Entrepreneurship Trek
In October, Meinig School Ph.D. students Mitch Pender, Madhur Srivastava and Ruisheng (Rick) Wang attended the Silicon Valley Entrepreneurial Trek to California. The Trek was organized specifically for select Cornell science and engineering Ph.D.s interested in careers in innovation and entrepreneurship. Pender, Srivastava and Wang were thee of eight Ph.D. students selected and sponsored by the Cornell BEST program and the College of Engineering.
With the objective to introduce students to careers in technology startups and large firms in Silicon Valley, including those led by Cornellians, the Trek included site visits to companies and organizations contributing to the vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Bay Area. The select Ph.D.s visited university spinouts, incubators/accelerators, venture capitalists, and large innovative firms, including start-ups working in artificial intelligence, biotechnology and material science. They also attended a networking dinner with Cornellians working in the area.
“These experiences, led under the guidance of Professor Roach, are impossible to replicate in a classroom,” said Mitch Pender, an MBA/BME Ph.D. student, of the trip. “We networked with entrepreneurial alumni from Cornell, gained understanding of the competitive technological landscape from the viewpoint of a venture capital partner, interacted with Stanford graduates commercializing technologies at the Start-X incubator, and met with founders and scientists at a successful therapeutic company who had recently attained series-A funding.”
Madhur Srivastava, a BME Ph.D. student in the Freed Lab, agreed. “It was an excellent experience to see the similar and distinct approaches followed by different start-ups based on their technology, market and funding source. Visiting StartX and Canaan Partners provided insights on their selection process before investing in a company and what additional resources they provide to help a company to succeed.”
Another key feature of the trek was to learn how Cornellians transitioned to their current career after graduation. Srivastava also enjoyed meeting a former Cornell Computer Science Professor who is now a co-founder of a start-up and a full-time entrepreneur, leading as an example for careers outside academia. And Pender especially appreciated the networking dinner, where, “Through interactions with [Cornell alumni at the networking dinner], I was able to gain some key insights into the importance of properly filed and protected intellectual property, as well as some essential tips for navigating the process associated with technology licensing”
“The trek was an invaluable learning and networking experience,” agreed Rick Wang, a BME Ph.D. in the Erickson Lab. “It was great meeting like-minded individuals – fellow trek members, alumni, founders, facilitators – who all share a passion for entrepreneurship and startups.”