Monthly Archives: November 2014

Student entrepreneurship is ‘not a science’: Weiss Tech House panel

*This was first posted in my Technical.ly Philly Column 

Group photo of the student panelAs part of the Penn Innovation Week, the Weiss Tech House brought together a student entrepreneurship panel composed of Dan Fine, Aaron Goldstein, Christopher Gray, Roopa Shankar and Alina Wong — the founders of Glass-U, Fever Smart, Scholly and NOMsense Bakery, respectively.

Here are the lessons they hoped to impart.

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4 College Students Share Their Big Ideas in TEDxPenn’s “What Lies Ahead” Screening Session

*This was first posted in my column in the Huffington Post

Hosting TEDx talks are a powerful way to share ideas and inspire people to take action. Yet there are an abundance of ideas out there that it’s hard to give everyone the opportunity to share their big idea. At an institution like the University of Pennsylvania, there are countless of students out there constantly working on their ideas, and chasing the dream.

With a desire to highlight these ideas and get students to learn more about the TED ethos, the TEDxPenn team has recently decided to hold “talent search” and screening sessions every month leading up to the actual TEDxPenn event in Spring 2015. In these mini-events, Penn students get the opportunity to share their big idea to the rest of the Penn community in talks that last between 5 to 7 minutes.

‘Ask what if questions’

The first speaker Rajat Bhageria, a freshman at the School of Engineering and founder of ThirdEye, started out by explaining the Google Glass application his team created that helps blind people be able to see again. This application was inspired by Rajat’s teammate Joe, who had a grandfather who was blind. With a desire to help his grandfather live a normal life again, the ThirdEye image recognition application was born.

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He then highlighted how this only just the start, and went on to talk about the importance of asking “what if” questions and exploring the possibilities of technology. Bhageria went on to challenge the crowd to take advantage of all the open platforms we have today. He said, “Google didn’t make this application. We did. Three college freshmen did. We saw things that others didn’t see. We were able to ask the “what if” questions that Google wasn’t able to ask.” Continue reading

Connecting the Dots I’ve Collected in My First 3 Months in College

*This was first posted in my column at the Huffington Post.

It was three months ago when I first step foot on my college campus, but it seems as though so many things have happened already. The amount of things I’ve experienced in such a short period of time is unbelievable. The ability of college to expose you to a variety of fields that cover almost every part of every spectrum is unparalleled.

In these first three months alone, I’ve learned something new every single day. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with people from every continent, and interact with people, one year ago, I could’ve only dreamt of meeting. I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet and learn from multi-talented students, serial entrepreneurs, best-selling authors, venture capitalists, non-profit leaders, award-winning journalists, renowned professors and unique individuals who inspire me to carve my own path.

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At the same time, my definition of college has constantly changed every waking moment I’ve spent here in college. One day, I’m so set that college is supposed to prepare me for the workforce by teaching me practical skills. Then the next day, I read an article talking about college being the place where you should be taking advantage of the opportunity to learn things that genuinely interest you like philosophy, acting, art and other things that most people call “useless.” I then ask myself, “why can’t I just major in life?” Continue reading

Business while Doing Good: Social Entrepreneurship in Washington, D.C.

There has been a recent shift in paradigms when in the corporate and non-profit sectors. What previously has been thought to be in the opposite ends of the spectrum, the corporate and non-profit field has found an intersection in social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurship has been given many different definitions but at its core, social entrepreneurship is about creating sustainable enterprises that focus on dealing with a social problem or creating a social good through different models.

Having been exposed to the local scene of social entrepreneurship in the likes of Gawad Kalinga (GK) Enchanted Farm, Rags to Riches, IdeaSpace Foundation, and Kalibrr among others, I was excited to see what social impact ventures and innovations I could find in the US, and possibly introduce similar models to the Philippines. 

DC Trip Global Giving, DC Central Kitchen, GoodSpread

Given my interests in exploring different types of social enterprises, I quickly went ahead and joined the Penn Social Entrepreneurship Movement (PennSEM). One month later, and I got the opportunity to not only bond and learn from my fellow PennSEM members but also go on a “social enterprise field trip” in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. There we got to meet the founders and managers of four different social enterprises: DC Central Kitchen, Global Giving, Armani Ya Juu, and GoodSpread.

Bonding session with the PennSEM team

Bonding session with the PennSEM team

Empowering the poor through job training models

Starting out, we were quickly introduced to the very efficient and innovative operations of DC Central Kitchen, which recycles food, feeds the homeless and trains them in the culinary arts. DC Central Kitchen’s job training program for the homeless focuses on self-empowerment, developing a supportive community and professional skills training to help prepare the graduates to work either in a partner restaurant or go full circle by working in DC Central Kitchen.

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