$150 million gift will promote entrepreneurship and innovation to fight poverty
- “More than a billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. That’s just not right.” Robert E. King, Stanford MBA ‘60
- “Entrepreneurship, innovation, and improved management are powerful ways to help alleviate poverty,” said Stanford University President John L. Hennessy.
- “Many people are doing relief or aid operations, but at the institute (Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies) we will be asking how we can stimulate entrepreneurs and business ideas so that the people receiving aid today can become self-sufficient so they won’t need aid in the future,” Professor Hau Lee, Stanford
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Co-founders of Google, discuss Stanford’s tradition of innovation.
"I don’t think I’ve seen the same kind of scale in research and commercialization pretty much anywhere outside of Stanford…and I think this is a really great opportunity for both the city as well as Stanford University to broaden its horizons." - Sergey Brin, Co-founder Google
Tina Seelig (Stanford Technology Ventures Program) on Stanford + NYC
Tina Seelig, PhD (pictured in red jacket, above, teaching a Stanford course on creativity) is the Executive Director for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, the entrepreneurship center at Stanford University’s School of Engineering.
Our team at the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP) is privileged to play a role in educating the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators, preparing them to see the world as a place rich with opportunity and full of potential.
As the entrepreneurship program at Stanford’s School of Engineering, centered in the department of Management Science and Engineering, we see our job as helping students to gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are needed to turn the challenges around them into opportunities, and to build a better world. Whether they launch a startup, join an established company, or choose another path, these skills will be pivotal in helping them progress through their careers and to contribute to society.
At STVP, our philosophy is that it is no longer good enough for engineers and scientists to come out of school with purely technical training. They must have the entrepreneurial skills needed to bring their ideas to life. This is important for them as individuals, for the companies they found or join, and for the nation as a whole. We do this by providing them with the knowledge they need as well as experiences that hone their skills. They graduate with an entrepreneurial mindset, fully understanding that the challenges they face are opportunities, and that as entrepreneurs their role is to do much more than is imaginable with much less than seems possible.
Since the earliest days of Stanford, the university has been building bridges between our research labs, classrooms, and Silicon Valley to create scalable ventures that fuel the local and national economy. An iconic example occurred as early as 1939 when Engineering Dean Fred Terman encouraged students William Hewlett and David Packard to launch a company to commercialize an audio oscillator based upon work that Hewlett had developed as a graduate student in Terman’s lab. Since then, Stanford has fostered the creation of an ever-growing list of technology companies, including Varian, Sun Microsystems, Cisco Systems, Yahoo, Rambus and Google. We would look forward to the bringing our knowledge and experience to New York City to help shape and support the local entrepreneurial ecosystem, built upon the unique resources and culture of the community.
Our work at Stanford is attracting recognition and support on a national level. For example, STVP was recently awarded a five-year grant to launch a national center dedicated to unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit in undergraduate engineering students across the country. This National Center for Engineering Pathway to Innovation, or Epicenter, will be connecting the nation’s 350 engineering schools with the goal of igniting interest in entrepreneurship and sharing best practices in entrepreneurship education.
The NSF has also asked Stanford to help leading scientists commercialize new technologies through their new Innovation Corps program. Teams from around the country, including faculty members and PhD students, are participating in an intense, 10-week program designed to help them discover and test scalable business models based upon their discoveries. The first cohort of 21 teams is participating in this program right now.
In all of our efforts, we will build upon our deep experience with online education. For the past ten years we have offered a free collection of materials on entrepreneurship that is both extensive and growing. Our ECorner website has thousands of videos and podcasts of entrepreneurial thought leaders, most of whom are from Silicon Valley. We look forward to expanding this collection with speakers from New York City. Along with other efforts, this will allow us to build strong ties to the New York City community of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and company leaders.
New York City holds a very special place in my heart. My parents both grew up, went to college, and worked in New York City, and I grew up in New Jersey. I spent endless hours in “The City,” taking full advantage of the world-class cultural environment that continues to thrive. To me, New York City is an amazing jewel, poised for entrepreneurial growth. My colleagues and I are extremely enthusiastic about the potential to contribute to Stanford’s efforts to build a New York City campus. We look forward to building a vital bridge between Palo Alto and New York City, between Stanford and Roosevelt Island, and between the present and the future.
- Tina Seelig
Jane Chen (CEO & Founder, Embrace) talks about Stanford’s unique culture of entrepreneurship + NYC
Noah Weiss (foursquare) on Stanford + NYC
Noah Weiss (pictured above, in the Stanford shirt with his NYC kickball team) is Product Manager at Foursquare. He lives and works in New York City. Noah graduated from Stanford with a B.A. in Science, Technology, and Society.
Everyone agrees more startups could help push NYC’s economy beyond its traditional strengths: finance, media, and advertising. An influx of new engineers would help the cause. Fortunately, NYC is already filled with strong engineering programs within its five boroughs and surrounded by universities in the northeast that produce thousands of new engineering grads every year.
Yet still, Silicon Alley continues to live up to its diminutive nickname relative to Silicon Valley. There are no shortage of reasons why, or essays written investigating the topic. One significant explanation is clear just by looking at a map: Silicon valley has Stanford University sitting at the epicenter, whereas NYC is over 3,000 miles away. The university has been just one of many factors in explosion of tech startups (many of which were founded by faculty, alumni, and students) in the last half-century that have sprouted up within a short drive of the campus. But Stanford’s unique culture of entrepreneurship, combined with its top ranking engineering programs, has undoubtedly played a major role.
No matter what you study at Stanford, it’s hard to graduate without wanting at some point to found a company — or at least work at a fast-growing startup. From freshman orientation when you walk around buildings named after companies founded at Stanford that cover the Nasdaq billboard in Times Square; to junior year when you try to sign up for a class called E145: Technology Entrepreneurship, only to find enrollment is threefold oversubscribed and requires a written application for the privilege of listening to tech CEOs and venture capitalists hold Q&A classes; to the senior year career fairs when the lines next to Google, Facebook, and the latest hot venture back companies dwarf the Fortune 100 stalwarts like GE and Accenture; it is nearly impossible to leave Stanford immune to the startup bug.
I felt that personally after graduating in 2008 when I moved back home to NYC to work for Google. It certainly wasn’t a startup at the time, but it was the perfect training ground for learning how I would build my own company. Earlier this year, I left to work at startup born and raised in NYC: foursquare. My next stop a few years from now: founding my own company, hopefully in the city, and likely with a handful of Stanford grads and foursquare alumni.
That’s a fairly typical path for computer science grads. It hasn’t surprised me to find my engineering classmates working at the top tech companies, from the giants like Google and Microsoft, to fast-growing adolescents like Facebook and Twitter, to startups like Quora and foursquare. I expected that. What has been startling is seeing the friends who moved to NYC to work as strategy consultants and investment bankers — that transcontinental pipeline of talent has been well-honed for years — move in droves to work at local New York startups. From a banker turned data analyst at Yipit, to a strategy consultant turned operations manager at Birchbox, to a management consultant turned venture capitalist associate at Union Square Ventures, the surprise has been my non-technical Stanford friends cutting their salaries in half or more to get a chance to help build a company from scratch. They, too, couldn’t escape Stanford’s entrepreneurship bug.
As a native New Yorker who could never imagine living further than five minutes from the nearest subway line, I spent years at Stanford selling classmates from all majors on why there’s no better place to work than NY in your twenties. Now, as I sit on a flight to San Francisco to help foursquare recruit its next generation of engineers at the exact career fair I stood at four years ago, my task is also to convince students that building a career in tech in NYC is a worthwhile investment.
If Stanford had an engineering and business campus outpost in NYC, my pitch for new grads moving here would be markedly easier. The thousands of highly-trained engineers joining the workforce every year would certainly help. Even more useful would be that Stanford’s culture of entrepreneurship would have to travel only a few subway stops instead of a few thousand miles. Foursquare would appreciate the influx of local talent, but the city itself would benefit even more from the droves of companies that would spring up around a StanfordNYC campus.
This Wednesday, I look forward to recruiting as many amazing Stanford engineers as I can from the career fair. I hope that two years from now, I won’t have to travel nearly as far.
- Noah Weiss