Category Archives: Experiences

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

What I Learned From the Wharton Business Plan Competition

What I Learned From the Wharton Business Plan Competition

When I found out that I would be visiting UPenn a month ago, I immediately went straight to Google and searched for possible events I could attend. And there it was the Wharton Business Plan Competition was being held on May 1 in the Huntsman Hall at the University of Pennsylvania. After sorting out a few scheduling details with my dad, it was set; I would be able to attend the event.

I'll be back in the Huntsman Hall next year!!

I’ll be back in the Huntsman Hall next year!!

And so when the day finally arrived, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. Going through the website of the Wharton Business Plan Competition, the finalists seemed to have some really promising ideas. Moments later, there I was sitting in the auditorium listening to the speakers.

At first, it didn’t feel quite right. The auditorium was packed with graduate students and people who looked like they had a backpack full of experience with them already. But I quickly realized that this is it. This is what the business world looks like. This is what I’ve been dreaming of in the past year. This is where I want to be.

When the presentations started, I was honestly a bit overwhelmed by all the data, credentials and what the businesses have done already. But this is the beauty in these events; as an incoming college freshman, it was an invaluable learning experience for me and a preview of the world I’ll hopefully be able to enter one day.

Building a well-rounded team

When the team leaders started introducing their team members and the people who have helped them in the process, you could really see that every member had a unique skillset that really contributed to the team. The winning team Slidejoy boasted students who have gotten multiple degrees from both Wharton and Stanford. But more importantly, they all had a set of important tasks.

The winning team of the Wharton Business Plan Competition, SlideJoy

The winning team of the Wharton Business Plan Competition, SlideJoy

Importance of Networking

During the breaks and networking sessions, you could really see people go at it, discuss ideas, share thoughts and exchange business cards. And true enough, when the presentations resumed, I suddenly started seeing how important this aspect was as the teams presented their current client bases and how they were able to get them to jump in their start-up ventures.

I even got to sit beside this founder and CEO who told me why he was there, and it was quite simple, “I’m here to build connections, network and at the same time, scout for talent.” Continue reading