Between Jan. 6 and Jan. 12, 2013, Lehigh University’s LehighSiliconValley program took 55 Lehigh students and alums to the heart of entrepreneurship, California’s Silicon Valley. They spent a week immersed in the world of startups, venture capitalists, inventors, CEOs, and others key to launching new ventures.The experience kicked off in late 2012 with a two-day East Coast immersion that introduced participants to the nation’s newest innovation hub of New York City, exposing them to the startup scenes of the two coasts. Follow along on this Tumblr to learn about the LSV2013 participants’ experiences and insights. Learn more about LehighSiliconValley at www.lehigh.edu/siliconvalley. LSV is hosted by Lehigh University’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation.Thanks to all the speakers, panelists, companies, alumni, supporters, faculty, staff, and of course students, who made LehighValley2013 a defining moment in entrepreneurship education! We look forward to LSV2014!

Between Jan. 6 and Jan. 12, 2013, Lehigh University’s LehighSiliconValley program took 55 Lehigh students and alums to the heart of entrepreneurship, California’s Silicon Valley. They spent a week immersed in the world of startups, venture capitalists, inventors, CEOs, and others key to launching new ventures.

The experience kicked off in late 2012 with a two-day East Coast immersion that introduced participants to the nation’s newest innovation hub of New York City, exposing them to the startup scenes of the two coasts.

Follow along on this Tumblr to learn about the LSV2013 participants’ experiences and insights. Learn more about LehighSiliconValley at www.lehigh.edu/siliconvalley. LSV is hosted by Lehigh University’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation.

Thanks to all the speakers, panelists, companies, alumni, supporters, faculty, staff, and of course students, who made LehighValley2013 a defining moment in entrepreneurship education! We look forward to LSV2014!

From Sunday evening, Jan. 6, through Friday afternoon, Jan.12, like a mosaic, all of the puzzle pieces neatly fit together in an upward progression that delivered the finest in entrepreneurship education. For some, the experience was “transformational.” What more could be said about enriching the lives of the next generation?
Dale Falcinelli, director and creator, LehighSiliconValley
Graduation!

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An ultimate challenge for LehighSiliconValley2013 participants: Plan and execute your own “graduation” celebration. The go-forward strategy? Learn from the best, and do it one better.

Emcee Andrew Tye ‘13 played the role of CIO (Chief Interruption Officer) in a nod to LehighSiliconValley Director Dale Falcinelli’s role throughout the week seemingly never letting presenters at peace. He invited to the front, one after another, three of Lehigh University’s own emerging startups, all launched by current LehighSiliconValley participants. And he began peppering them with questions, then opening the floor to the rest of his fellow program “graduates.”

But this was no softball-question awards picnic. The same sorts of penetrating and insightful hard questions came from the crowd for nearly an hour as had come all week.

First up was Gigawatt, an online crowdfunding platform for colleges, co-founded by LehighSiliconValley participants Greg Horn ‘07 and Jake Huber ‘09, G’13, a winner in the on-campus Eureka! student ventures competition in December 2012. Floor question: Entrepreneurs all week said you have to do this full time to really succeed; can you? Answer: The duo hopes to make their startup their full-time occupation once Huber finishes his MBA this spring. They then invited other participants to join their team as analysts and interns in their offices in the Ben Franklin TechVentures2 tech incubator on Lehigh’s Mountaintop Campus, part of their Eureka! winners package from the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation. Question for Horn: Do you really want to leave a great full-time job, in this economy? Reaction? It’s not a question; it’s an emotional imperative. 

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Next up was Chris Hall ‘13, founder of Challtech, which has developed SmartCrew, the first team and workout data collection and management system of its kind. It allows for coaches or rowers to schedule workouts online and run team workouts from their iPhones or iPads while collecting, viewing, and analyzing vital statistics simultaneously for the whole team, in real time during the workout and for analysis afterward.

Chris was a winner of last year’s Eureka! competition, December 2011, and also has his tech startup in office space in TechVentures. Question: Total value of various funding for his business so far? More than $65K. Question: A high so far? Chris had a vendor booth this past fall at the huge Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, an Olympic bronze medalist rower stopped by and, in between signing autographs for the adoring crowd nearby, enthusiastically offered to help. Question: Next steps? Chris said on the plane home from Palo Alto he’s going to be preparing a venture pitch document at the enthusiastic urging of a (rowing) CEO founder contact he made at LehighSiliconValley, who thinks he can help him raise a cool couple million! No biggie….

Pierson Krass ‘13 followed in the hot seat. He’s founder of Krass & Co., a designer and purveyor of athletic wear, and runs his business from the Innovation Loft “garage” space in Chandler-Ullmann Hall on Lehigh’s campus. Already generating nearly six figures in revenue by selling to retailers in several states and online to 47 states this past year, Krass hopes to hit $300-400K this year.

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Pre-empting the question about full-time attention to driving the business forward, Pierson said he’s applied to take a semester break from Lehigh to pursue accelerating sales. Question: Why do you manufacture in Asia? Straightforward level-headed answer: Margins are king in the brutally competitive athletic apparel sector. Question: Why did you change the name of the firm? Some hard conversation and introspection followed about the highs and lows of building a leadership team.

Emcee Tye concluded the evening’s dialogue by inviting Professor Falcinelli to the podium. Visibly choking back some emotions, Falcinelli admitted that in his 65 years, he’d never been so moved by what he’d witnessed this week. The commitment by the entire group, the focus, the sustained passion, and insightful questions throughout, the camaraderie, the collaborative spirit, the friendships, and most importantly the shared sense of real accomplishment, had been entirely self-driven, Falcinelli said, by the student participants themselves.

He spoke for the whole Baker Institute team in expressing his deep and heartfelt thanks and congratulations for a job superbly done and transformative experiences hard won.

[SEE MORE GRADUATION DINNER PHOTOS]

Probably the most prominent lesson I’ve learned from LehighSiliconValley is that people are by far the most powerful resource when making your way in the real world. With this realization regardless of my future ambitions I need to develop my personality in such a way that places value on every social interaction I have.
Sto Mahoney ‘15, Industrial Engineering, LSV2013 participant
Going public: Part II

Fitting both for closing IPO day and as the final session for LehighSiliconValley — The 2013 Edition! — was a very recently minted public company, Proofpoint, and its CEO Gary Steele.

Proofpoint just went IPO in April 2012. The firm offers integrated data protection solutions for 2,400 medium and large organizations, including threat management, regulatory compliance, data governance, and secure communications — what Steele called a security-as-a-service platform model.

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The firm was founded in 2002 by the former chief technical officer of Netscape, and Steel joined shortly thereafter as one of a handful of first-in employees. So he’s ridden the entire decade-long startup roller coaster from idea on-loading to IPO exit — giving him unique encapsulating insight into the full topical sweep of LehighSiliconValley.

A self-described workaholic (sleep? overrated!), Steele’s regularly spent hundred-hour weeks building the firm. But none compared to the eight days traveling nationwide with his investment banking team in pitching the IPO to investors. Known in the industry as the “roadshow,” it’s a grueling process of six to eight pitch meetings a day for days on end with mutual funds, university endowments, pension funds, and other institutional investors.

Before he had to do the Proofpoint roadshow, CEO Steele said he thought other folks he’d talked to about how hard it was just weren’t tough. Oh, the naivete! The best advice he ever got about the roadshow? Never pass a bathroom without using it. Steele, who said he’s never written a business plan for a venture capitalist — that’s not what matters — also offered another “never” tidbit to LSV participants: Never ever, ever-ever, ever-ever-ever, wear a suit to meet with a VC.

[SEE MORE PROOFPOINT PHOTOS]

Going public: Part I

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“Going Public for the Venture-Backed Company – Mature IPO v. New IPO” was the theme of the two “illustration cases” featured on Day 6 of LehighSiliconValley.

Taking place at the NetApp Corporate Campus in Sunnyvale, CA, the cases were based on NetApp — a multinational computer storage and data management company that went public in 1996 – and ProofPoint, a security-as-service vendor that helps companies archive and protect their data that just became publicly held in April 2012.

Before we began, the NetApp case was a bit of a head scratcher in a LehighSiliconValley program billed as “entrepreneurship and venture capital.” A multi-billion-dollar company that has been public for years, NetApp is among the world’s tech company heavyweights. This, in a program on startups?

But what a morning! Founder and Executive Vice President Dave Hitz, in jeans and denim shirt, came prepared with a PowerPoint deck. Uh, no, fuhgedaboudit, right? But in true LSV fashion that thought lasted about as long as NetApp data servers take to process a gigaflop.

Participant questions walked Hitz through the heady three years in the 1990s from startup to IPO, and even Hitz’s childhood passions. In those early days of the PC, VCs had a hard time getting a handle on the data server concept that less functionality was more. Data room geeks duct taping and baggie tying their own big storage systems together instantly got it, but VCs? Hitz said the firm had to sell hardware and generated operating profits first before VCs caught wind that the value proposition was huge.

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As for childhood passions, Hitz loved building computers but suggested his mom thought it was a cute hobby akin to kids building ham radios. Some multi-billion-dollar hobby!

Through the success and evolution of NetApp, Hitz said he still thinks of himself as a programmer, but today the language is PowerPoint and CPUs are people.

"What a great story," said Dallas Soukup ‘13, an integrated business and engineering/materials science major, of Hitz’s presentation. “I learned a ton and I’ll be applying to work at NetApp for the summer. … It’s a great company, definitely an opportunity I like.”

During his talk, Hitz let slip that he had a bit of a special place in his heart for Lehigh University. While he was at Princeton, the very first girl he kissed went to Lehigh.

Hours. Just to ask questions of one of the founders of one of the world’s tech meccas. And find out who they kissed. No more head scratching ….

[SEE MORE NETAPP CASE PHOTOS]

… Going IPO is like graduating high school; you’re finished with something but not much yet. You commence …
Dave Hitz, co-founder, NetApp, post-IPO multinational computer storage and data management company

NetApp took full advantage of hosting 54 of Lehigh University’s most innovative soon-to-be graduates and gave the team a walkaround of their college-like corporate campus. In a great sign of how very clever NetApp employees are, the tour guide started with the Sunnyvale campus’ sand volleyball pits and pitching green, then to the outdoor cafe, reflection pool, and koi pond, and through what proved to be a gym and workout facilities that one student commented “would make U.S. Olympic trainers drool.”

[SEE MORE NETAPP TOUR PHOTOS]

I’m moving out to California. I might not even get in the plane home.
Jake Huber, MBA ‘13, Entrepreneurship, LSV2013 participant
Freedman shares move-forward outlook

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Who leaves dream jobs at Google, and eBay and PayPal, ON PURPOSE? Well, that’d be Lehigh alum Kevin Freedman ‘95. What better way to end Day 5 of LehighSiliconValley than with a keynote from one of the most amazing movers and shakers among Lehigh’s many Silicon Valley movers and shakers?

Freedman shared his personal entrepreneurial journey from Lehigh and a first job in public accounting, through some of the world’s most recognized fast growth dot-com home runs, from half.com, to eBay, to PayPal, to Slide.com, then Google, and now to being President/CEO of emerging startup Quid.

What’s Quid? It’s changing the way firms find game-changing innovation opportunities. The Harvard Business Review said this: “By parsing the text from millions of documents about technology companies, and connecting shared words, Quid software creates multidimensional industry maps. Within these maps ‘white spaces’ can often indicate strategic opportunities ripe for new innovation.” Reminded us of all those white space boards yesterday in LSV Day 4!

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Why give up jobs thousands of folks worldwide are in a frenzy trying to get? Freedman says it’s about the infectious energy and frenzy of startups, about building teams that build things that will have big impact on big numbers of people, and about always moving forward. He’s moving forward flying in rarefied air these days with Quid’s investors and board including some rockstar Silicon Valley players, including Peter Thiel (CEO co-founder of PayPal and first external investor in Facebook) and Max Levchin (co-founder PayPal, chairman Yelp).

Freedman’s comfortable in his own skin, with a graceful self-deprecating humor, down-to-earth style, and always-move-forward outlook that clearly resonated with the LehighSiliconValley throng. A crowd kept the questions coming nearly 45 minutes after the evening’s activities officially wound down and all the dinner tables had been long cleared away.

[SEE MORE KEVIN FREEDMAN PHOTOS]