I had never really been one to dream of starting my own company or really defined myself as an entrepreneur until I recognized that entrepreneurship was not just working in a start up, but it was a way of being. We have just wrapped up our first full day here and the key theme which resonated with me is that entrepreneurship is a mindset.
Sunday evening, we all arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area where we had a lovely dinner of Italian food to kick off our week exploring and learning about entrepreneurship and Silicon Valley.
Our first full day here really was a FULL day! We had an early start leaving the hotel around 7:30 am to head to the Notre Dame California office in Palo Alto. There we heard from Aisling MacRunnels of Synack. She shared a bit about her personal journey, what she looks for in a team and offered advice on how to be entrepreneurial and accomplish your goals. Looking back on her early journey outside of a traditional entrepreneur role, Aisling shared that she “was a bit of an entrepreneur in my cluelessness.” I thought this was a really relatable quote and shows the value of allowing entrepreneurship to seep into other aspects of your life.
Next, we heard from Alex Jones, a 2015 ND alum who recently founded Hallow, a Catholic meditation app. It was great to hear about the experience and lessons learned from such a young startup. He shared his motivation behind the app and his decision to pursue it as being focused on having a real impact saying “if it can make a real impact in my life and the lives of my friends, it is worth it to at least try.”
After Alex’s talk we had a delicious lunch from Asian Box and then divided into two groups. The international students had the opportunity to hear from Unshackled Ventures, a venture capital firm who focuses on helping international founders. The rest of us headed over to Stanford to tour the d.school.
The Stanford d.school is a hub for design thinking, something we learned about in our very first week in ESTEEM this summer! It was cool to see how other people approach a similar process. At the d.school, graduate students from different departments come together to learn and apply design thinking methodologies in hopes that they can carry this with them into their field. This was another great example of how important it is to as Aisling said, “look at everything with a little bit of entrepreneurship.”
After the tour, we had some free time to explore Stanford’s campus. It was a gorgeous day with crystal clear skies and temperatures in the low 60s. I definitely enjoyed the sunshine!
Next, we divided again. This time about half of the class went to Glynn Capital to hear from its founder. The rest of us attended a Stanford Mechanical Engineering class on European Entrepreneurship. Today’s class was an extended mini-summit with around ten European leaders in entrepreneurship and venture capital. The most common theme I recognized throughout the class was the need for a culture and mindset which values entrepreneurship.
Finally, we were joined by ESTEEM alums who live in the area for a late pizza dinner. It was great to hear about some of the cool things alums are doing in the Silicon Valley area!