Day 4 in the Valley

Author: Chardee Allee

After our day on Wednesday shadowing different people and visiting San Francisco, Thursday was a return to the non-stop schedule we had seen on Monday and Tuesday. We started the day off with a visit to Intersect ENT, a company based around the development of a solution for improving sinus pressure relief for patients after sinus surgery through the use of a small, dissolvable implant. After a brief presentation from CEO and President, Lisa Earnhardt, we had a brief Q&A with their research and development team followed by a tour of their facilities. We were able to see first-hand how their product was manufactured and packaged along with getting an idea of their overall business.


For our next visit, we were headed to IDEO, a company we had heard so much about throughout our time in ESTEEM. From our design thinking course over the summer to visiting Gravity Tank in Chicago, we couldn't wait to see the birthplace of design thinking. Escorting us on a tour was Dennis Boyle, Partner and founding member of IDEO along with Josh Finkle an industrial designer working on toy inventions. Throughout the tour we were able to see some fantastic, late stage inventions they were working on. One example is a toy plane that rolled on the floor and could be controlled with your arms instead of a remote control. We were also able to see some of the design iterations for first Apple computer mouse. We ended our tour with IDEO by listening to a presentation about projects where design thinking methodologies have been employed in order to create sustainable solutions to pressing problems in the developing world. With all the excitement around IDEO throughout our time in ESTEEM, our visit certainly didn't disappoint.


Following IDEO, we headed to San Francisco to visit Uber. During our visit, we met up with ESTEEM Alum Shane McCarthy and had a brief presentation from Shane, two project managers, and a local consultant about the direction Uber is headed for the future. With an engaging Q&A session, we were able to get a glimpse into their vision for the future and gain a better understanding of how Uber operates.


For the last events of the day, we drove back from San Francisco to visit the home of Richard Pivnicka another ND alum in the area. Richard Pivnicka acts as the Honorary Consul General of the Czech Republic and has played a role in various startups throughout this career. While visiting his house, we heard a presentation from Jack Porter on various “hacks” for starting a business and a second presentation from Buddy Burke about different techniques for public speaking. Following these presentations we had the opportunity to network with the presenters and other guests. After brief networking, 14 ESTEEM students left early in order to visit Facebook before meeting back with the class for our closing dinner.


With only room for 14 of us to visit Facebook, it was difficult to believe that we were finally headed there to visit! During our visit, we were able to tour both buildings and interact with both new and seasoned employees. Magnificent art covered the walls inside the buildings adding to the feeling of an open and creative space. Our trip to Facebook culminated with a brief tour of the facility in charge of developing Oculus Rift where we were able to personally try out the headsets! Offering incredible clarity, it was unbelievable how immersive the system was. From our visit, Facebook may have just developed 14 new potential customers for Oculus Rift.


As our final full day came to a close, we went to MandaLoun Restaurant for our closing dinner. After closing remarks, we thanked and recognized the students who drove everyone throughout the trip along with the students who had helped plan the entire trip. Finally, biggest thanks went to Sunny Shah for leading the planning and orchestration of the trip and for dealing with our craziness throughout the trip. We can sometimes be a difficult group to organize and we are beyond grateful for everything that Sunny has done for us throughout ESTEEM and especially with this Silicon Valley trip. With a fantastic closing dinner for a fantastic trip, it’s hard to believe our time in Silicon Valley is almost over.