Category Archives: Events

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.

2014-11-17-RajatBhageria.JPG

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

YCombinator at Penn: Do things that make you uncomfortable

Last Tuesday, October 7, 2014, YCombinator partners Dalton Caldwell, Qasar Younis and Kat Manalac and YC Alumni Reham Fagiri visited Penn today to talk to students about their startup experiences and answer questions in the fire-side chat.

YC Partners with Nilesh during the fire-side chat

YC Partners with Nilesh during the fire-side chat

YC Alumni Reham Fagiri kicked things off by talking about her experience building her startup AptDeco, and what her stint at YC taught her. The inspiration for AptDeco came from her own experience of having a hard time selling her furniture after she graduated from college. She then did some market research and talked to different people. Before she knew it, she had developed a prototype and beta-tested it. After the private and public beta, the idea of applying for YC came about.

It was through YC that they realized how important there customers truly are. Fagiri candidly admitted, “We thought just because we ran an online marketplace, we didn’t need to be where our market was. We were completely wrong.” Having said that, Fagiri and her team needed to fly back and forth from NYC to San Francisco during the duration of YC. Continue reading

Erik Kimel at Penn: Preparing you for what’s next

The Penn Social Entrepreneurship Movement (PennSEM) recently invited Erik Kimel, the Director of Brand Activation for Harry’s, to the University of Pennsylvania to talk about his experiences starting his own social enterprise in high school Peer2Peer, his current role in Harry’s and their up and coming initiative, “H’University”.

Members of PennSEM listening to Erik Kimel

Members of PennSEM listening to Erik Kimel

The Peer2Peer Days

With a desire to find a way to connect students with each other, and at the same time create value for both himself and his consumers, Kimel just one day decided to post a $50 ad on a newspaper to see if anyone needed a tutor. After spending time and really working with his first tutee, word spread around, and the Peer2Peer tutoring service was born during the start of Kimel’s senior year in high school. Continue reading

Paul Graham’s Best Advice to Aspiring Entrepreneurs: JUST LEARN! (Notes from CS183B: How to Start a Startup Lecture 3)

Paul Graham was the guest speaker for this week's lecture

Paul Graham was the guest speaker for this week’s lecture

Not as many people showed up for this week’s viewing lecture for “CS183B: How to Start a Startup” but nonetheless, the discussion group proved to be really interesting and insightful as we not only discussed key points in the lecture but we also talked about problems we faced and how we could solve them. It was really interesting how we ended up talking about very diverse fields from machine learning to education to media and journalism to weather, wearables and smart fabric to networking and starting a startup in college. (You can jump straight to our discussion group’s points by scrolling down to the last part).

You can view resources for the class here: http://startupclass.samaltman.com/

My overall takeaway from today though was that there’s no set-way or formula to starting a startup. There are certain things that worked for some entrepreneurs that didn’t work for other entrepreneurs. At the end of the day, starting a startup is really just about having an idea, getting cofounders, building a product users love, getting feedback from users, committing your time to your startup then just LEARNING every step of the way.

Continue reading

Notes, Insights and Takeaways of an aspiring college entrepreneur from CS 183: How to start a Startup by Sam Altman

Everything that you’ll be reading in this document are notes taken down from CS183 which is a Stanford course being taught by the President of YCombinator Sam Altman. Moreover, I will be injecting a few of my own insights and insights of other people from my discussion group.

The first UPenn class session was held at the First Round Capital

The first UPenn class session was held at the First Round Capital

As an aspiring entrepreneur and avid journalist, I’ve decided to take notes, write about the experience and the different discussions points from this class and publish it to the public. I hope that people can find these notes and insights as a way to either learn more about the class and entrepreneurship (some people might not have enough time to watch the lecture) or as a way to start discussions about this growing startup culture.

I will be starting out all my posts with 4-6 key takeaways, the overall experience and then the full notes along with discussion points raised in my group.

The lectures for this course are being recorded and are posted on Youtube. You can find the lectures here: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxIJaCMEptJjxmmQgGFsnCg

You can read more about the reason behind the class here: http://www.newsweek.com/y-combinator-teach-stanford-class-available-online-271275

Interestingly, a lot of Universities from all over the world (even all the way back in the Philippines! Shout-out to Jaime Young who is leading the ASES Philippines discussion group for this class!) have decided to start discussion groups and turn it into an actual class where students discuss the content of what is taught afterwards. The University of Pennsylvania recently had its first class lecture video showing on September 25, 2014.

6 Key takeaways:

  1. “You should never start a startup for the sake of doing so.”
  2. “The best companies are always mission oriented.”
  3. “Build something that a few users really really love.”
  4. “Recruit your first set of users by hand/manually and ask for feedback.”
  5. “The life of an entrepreneur isn’t as easy and glamorous as what media portrays it to be.”
  6. “The best reason to start a startup is because YOU CAN’T NOT DO IT.

The Overall Experience

More than the lecture, which I could’ve just watched online in my dorm room, what I really enjoyed from the first session was the community participating in this class. Everyone was just so passionate about startups and entrepreneurship and was eager to learn more. Everyone was really looking deep into the ideas discussed and questioning whether one practice is better than the other. It was honestly really refreshing being in this environment, bouncing off ideas and opinions with one another and simply meeting new people with similar interests and new insights. Definitely can’t wait for the next session! Continue reading

Re-engineering Journalism at Stanford

Repost from my Philippine Daily Inquirer Article: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/162227/reengineering-journalism-at-stanford

“What I think people should take away from Silicon Valley is a great sense of openness, optimism, a sense of possibility, a willingness to try and to learn by doing and a willingness to experiment. Don’t be afraid to fail and I think that’s a really important lesson to take away from Silicon Valley.” – John Temple, former managing editor of the Washington Post

With the JSK Director

With the JSK Director

Each year, around 20 journalists are chosen to become John S. Knight Fellows. The Knight Fellows take on the challenge of pushing boundaries and creating products that will help improve the quality of information reaching the public!

By taking advantage of the different classes and opportunities in both Stanford and Silicon Valley, the Knight fellows are able to explore a variety of fields and be exposed to new ways of approaching journalism.

When I found out that these fellows would be presenting their yearlong projects in an event called, “Re-engineering Journalism”, I knew I couldn’t miss this chance to attend an evening of innovation!

Re-engineering Journalism

In the past few years, technology has changed the way we consume information. A lot of people now get their news from social media platforms on their smartphones and on a go. As a result, journalism has continued to evolve. Continue reading

The Heart at Play Foundation: Healing Through Dance

Repost from my Philippine Daily Inquirer Article: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/160701/special-people-can-dance-too

“It takes a special kind of heart takes a special kind of heart, a renewed sense of purpose and hope, our innovative spirit and strong affirmation that no child should be left behind.”

Volunteering at THP is about becoming part of a family

Volunteering at THP is about becoming part of a family

It was three years ago when Dance specialist Ana Rivera, along with her daughters Therese and Patricia, founded The Heart at Play (THP) Foundation, which provides Dance Movement Therapy to special needs children and adults.

Ana obtained a degree in Special education and pioneered the unique Dance Movement Therapy program, which uses a scientific and very systematic step-by-step approach to helping these children. While Therese and Patricia have been dancing all throughout their life, and have even competed in international dance competitions.

With a desire to share the extreme feeling of joy they experience from dancing, Therese and Patricia have been encouraging their peers, fellow dancers and friends to volunteer and help out at THP, quickly turning THP into a youth movement. Students from ICA, Xavier, Ateneo and other high schools and universities have come to volunteer and be part of the THP family.

“As Filipino dancers we know in our hearts that every moment we spend on that stage, under the limelight and in front of a crowd, we lift it all up to Him. What better way of paying it forward than by sharing what we love the most, which is dance,” stated Therese in her Facebook post, inviting her dancer friends to volunteer at THP. Continue reading