Lehigh Silicon Valley

LehighSiliconValley students at Boost VC, a startup accelerator in San Mateo, CA. In this session with Adam Draper, Boost VC's founder and managing director, students learned more about what the accelerator model is, what trends are happening in the sci-fi space and what Draper has learned since founding Boost.

Hybrid LehighSiliconValley 2022 Immerses Students in Entrepreneurship

A cohort of 27 students participated in the program, which combined in-person and remote-from-home sessions.

Lehigh’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity & Innovation continued its mission to immerse students in entrepreneurial action with its 11th installation of LehighSiliconValley (LSV) in the 2022 winter term. A cohort of 27 students participated in a hybrid program that combined remote-from-home and in-person sessions in San Franciscoan LSV first.

“We learned the value of the hybrid model,” said Baker Institute Executive Director Lisa Getzler. “Students got to know and trust each other by diving in head first on day one with an in-person live case at Factory LLC, three full days in the remote environment with guest experts and live cases from around the world, and four days to fully experience the live, in-person experience for which LSV is known.”

The hybrid model, which featured 27 guest instructors and experts and 14 companies, proved successful, allowing for students to form relationships and build momentum during the program’s remote days before joining together in-person ready to jump into a busy schedule.

“This group was committed to excellence, drove the program forward with their curiosity and proactive learning approach, and took advantage of everything LSV2022 had to offer,” Getzler said. “We were also incredibly fortunate that everyone involved on the ground in the Bay Area, from students to staff to guest instructors and visiting experts tested negative for Covid upon arrival, allowing us to safely hold our program sessions where masking and social distancing were practiced by all.”

From generating marketing strategies for an early-stage social app alongside its founder to driving conversations with innovation experts and entrepreneurs alike, students quickly found themselves not only thinking about entrepreneurship, but living it, too–and that was just the first half of the program.

In the four in-person days of sessions that followed, students deepened their understanding and practice of entrepreneurial thinking with longtime LSV guest instructors and experts: Sandy Stelling ‘91, Alaska Airlines; Tom Gillis ‘14P ‘16P ‘17P, VMware; Paul Martino ‘95, Bullpen Capital; Ann Lewnes ‘83, Adobe; and Tim Eades, vArmour.

“In my experience, it is great people that make great products and great products that make great companies,” shared LSV guest instructor Tom Gillis ‘14P ‘16P ‘17P of VMware. “Lehigh Silicon Valley connects highly talented students with the never ending swirl of opportunities in Silicon Valley. I’m really pleased to be part of it, and I see nothing but more engagement in the future.”

Lehigh Silicon Valley

Students at the Lehigh@NasdaqCenter in San Francisco during an "un-resume" session with Anne Lewnes '83, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Adobe (Wendy Fong).

The eight-day program actually feels as though it is a 24/7 experience. The days are fully booked with guest instructors helping participants more deeply understand the way the mind of a founder, CEO or investor works, as well as professional development experiences with guest experts from larger companies where innovation and entrepreneurial mindset are highly valued. Collaboration is constant with students working in teams to tackle real-time problems presented by startup founders, CEOs and investors through LSV’s signature live case model, which challenges students to innovate in real-time in a high stakes environment.

With a cohort representing more than a dozen different majors and minors across the university’s College of Arts & Sciences, P.C. Rossin College of Engineering & Applied Sciences, and the College of Business, the program’s live cases gave students valuable time not only to apply their strengths in solving real-world problems, but also step outside of their comfort zone and grow in areas less familiar, too.

“The live case allows students to test their knowledge with immediate and real feedback from founders, investors and CEOs,” said Chris Kauzmann, Baker Institute Innovator in Residence and faculty managing director for LehighSiliconValley. “This feedback loop is where the real learning occurs as students gain insight far beyond what anyone but the organization's leader can provide.”

We expect students to gain new knowledge in the program,” Kauzmann said. “But what inspires me each year is watching students realize how expansive their life paths can be. They see that as incredible as our guests are, they are just people with unique, but not unreachable paths. Seeing students envision their futures in this way is an unmatched experience for me in the ‘classroom’.”

Students have described the program as transformational.

“Silicon Valley has disrupted my life goals in the best possible way,” said LSV 2022 student Victoria Drzymala ’23, who is studying political science and international relations. “Before coming to San Francisco, I never considered thinking of myself as an entrepreneur. I’d never had the chance to entertain that idea, and I don’t think I ever would have had someone not encouraged me to read about the program and apply.

“No one could have prepared me for the whirlwind that was LSV,” she said. “I found that I was starved for a change of pace, and I eagerly seized the chance to learn from venture capitalists, CEOs, and big-time executives. I don’t believe that there’s anything that’s completely off the cards now and that, regardless of my destination, LSV has given me the confidence to recognize that I have the tools to succeed anywhere I go.”

Story by Brittany Pierzga

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