UI alumni share experience


Jeanette Yan

Jalen West-Beard, junior in LAS, shares his Silicon Valley Entrepreneur Workshop experience with the Innovation LLC in ISR on Tuesday. This year’s workshop will feature representatives from View, Inc. and Malwarebytes, among others from Silicon Valley.

By Zihan Wang, Staff Writer

Twenty-five students from different colleges across campus are given the opportunity to visit alumni and to learn about their companies through the Silicon Valley Entrepreneurship Workshop, sponsored by the College of Engineering.

The students will travel to California for five days during winter break. Prerana Kiran, freshman in Engineering, said she thinks the workshop will be a good opportunity for her to meet with leaders in Silicon Valley.

“Currently, I’m in the entrepreneurship class and trying to start my own startups, so I thought it would be a really helpful experience,” Kiran said.

She said she hopes to have a chance to hear directly from the alumni and learn how Silicon Valley functions, instead of just learning in a classroom.

Stephanie Larson, associate director of Innovation & Entrepreneurship Student Programs, said the program has been around since 2009.

“What happened was the dean at that time of the College of Engineering was like ‘we need to bring students out there, meet with these alumni, and hopefully, they will be inspired from talks of these alumni,’” Larson said.

Camille Garcia, senior in Media, said she attended the workshop in January this year and the highlight from her experience was networking with University alumni in Levi Stadium while their headshots were broadcast onto the jumbotron in front of “the biggest names in Silicon Valley.”

“Many of the entrepreneurs, if not all, told us what not to do when starting a business which I thought was more important than them telling us what they did to achieve success,” Garcia said in an email. “There are many paths to becoming successful, but success is subjective. Failure is more objective, so it was great to walk away with a concrete list of things not to do.”

Jalen West-Beard, junior in LAS, also attended the workshop this past January, saying staying in Silicon Valley for five days for only around $600 is a good deal. This year, the cost will be $650.

West-Beard said he learned that before someone puts an idea into action, they should know whether or not their idea could be useful to customers.

West-Beard said he talked with Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal, who said he regretted founding a big company like PayPal, with PayPal becoming the only thing Levchin would be known for.  

For this year, the companies and alumni include Marcin Kleczynski, CEO and co-founder of Malwarebytes, an internet security company and Martin Neumann, vice president of customer success at View, Inc., a glass manufacturing company.

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