Category

Innovation

By | Innovation, People

Painting the Blank Canvas:

How to Be an Entrepreneur in College

By Sidhant Ahluwalia (originally published on Medium)

To begin with, I’m not a nerd, I’m not a valedictorian, I’m just another college student with a dream to make a living after graduation. Over the next 5 to 10 mins, I’m going to take you over my story of what I did in college to make the most of my time. Below are 8 steps I took to get to where I am today and by the end of this, I hope to inspire you to find your steps to make a successful college career.

1

Learn a handy skill.

Over the summer of my sophomore year in college I picked up on iOS dev, a skill not many people have a great understanding of. Being able to code in swift and learning from taking a summer course and youtube videos prepared me for my first internship at a tech startup. Getting involved in a new startup is an experience you can’t replicate - it’s like working on a group project with a 24-hour deadline, all the time. Let’s say “intense” is a modest word to describe it. Skills such as App Development can and are being used by most firms/startups and being able to master such skills will differentiate you from the crowd. Not only do skills such as these help you get experience in the corporate world, but it also makes you self sufficient to start your own business.
2

Take an entrepreneurship (ENT) course.

As much as people value a technical background, having the necessary soft skills - such as communication, working with partners and getting through failures - are things people aren’t experienced with; trust me you want to get this out of the way while you’re in college. Learning about making business plans, financial plans, executive summaries and selling your ideas in college is the best platform to build on these skills. The buzz words count, industry terms can make or break a pitch, MVP, Disruptive Tech, value proposition and Lean startup are a few of them, add them to your dictionary now!
3

Always have a side hustle.

As busy as college gets, remember why you’re here. Is it for the parties on Friday nights? The mixers on Thursday? The hangover Sundays? Be focused, have a project that you’re passionate about, take it outside your class time and make it happen. It’s important to work on things you care about to know the impact you can make to the world, so go ahead, find a problem and solve it. For me I used college as a giant inflatable, anything you do in college is like doing something on the side.
4

Meet the right people.

Find people that contrast your skills, something I learned along my journey is that we are around people that like the same things that we do. If I’m good at programming, it’s highly likely that my good friends will be good programmers as well. Think about it, when you want to start a business, you want to have a CEO, CTO and CFO - would you want your c-suite to be full of people who all think alike, who can basically program anything? No, right?! You want a diverse set of people that bring in different perspectives and skills to the table. This step is crucial to success, so go ahead and expand your circle.
5

Make it BIG!

Be it a business or building a community, make it big! For me building a community was what mattered the most; building a community of like-minded people can make big things happen. After all, you’re who you surround yourself with. Founding a club usually just takes a few people and a statement of interest. If there isn’t the community, go make it... that’s what entrepreneurs do. The same goes for a business, and the single most important purpose of a business should be to get known. If you don’t make it big it doesn’t count!
6

Find the successful few.

Running an organization can be challenging, but you’re not on your own: use tried and tested methods to build on (you don’t have to reinvent the wheel). Find what students at your university care about. Is it working on building products? Learning about how entrepreneurship is applicable in different fields? Something other than that? Make sure you’re targeting the right audience, as this is a very important step for building the community. Make sure you’re not providing a service that already exists - create something new, fill in a new niche.
7

Try the alternative route.

You’re not an entrepreneur if you don’t know how to raise money or pitch a project you’ve been working on. Being a VC may have been a dream in the past, but in today’s date people are encouraged to try become campus partners for VC firms. This is a great way to meet entrepreneurs and like-minded students. Dorm room fund, Rough Draft Ventures and tons of other venture capital firms are made to fund startups out of college dorm rooms. I’m personally involved with GroundUP ventures and I can say for sure that it has given me the opportunity to network with people from all around the globe to talk about things that interest me.
8

The sky is the limit.

I can assure you that you’re only restricted to the limits you set, college dropouts have made some of the biggest companies we know today, one of such has over 2 billion users. Believe in yourself and make it happen - set those ground rules and the rest will follow.

These steps aren’t a roadmap to having a successful college career. I believe everyone has to find their route, their calling and this is how I found mine.

Sidhant Ahluwalia is a member of University of Rochester’s Class of 2018. He is working toward a Bachelors of Arts degree in Computer Science, track in HCI. A student in the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, Ahluwalia is also a campus partner for GroundUP Ventures and co-founder of Meliora LaunchPad, an entrepreneurship club for innovative students.

By | Business Competition, Event, Innovation, NSF I-Corps

Spring 2018 at a Glance

By Ain CFE Staff
Scroll down to see all of the Ain Center offerings for this semester – spring 2018 is filled with exciting entrepreneurial events and valuable opportunities. Hover over each box to learn more.
EIR Office Hours
Kathryn Cartini
January 26

1PM – 4PM

Virtual (Skype)

Head to our EIR page to make an appointment with Kate.

EIR Office Hours
Robert Arnold
February 15

2PM – 4:30PM

Virtual (Skype)

Head to our EIR page to make an appointment with Robert.

EIR Office Hours
Andrew Scheinman
February 6

noon – 4PM

CSH 3-327

Head to our EIR page to make an appointment with Andrew.

Faculty/Staff
Luncheons
January 22

noon – 1PM

Schlegel 301

Learn more about this month’s topic on the event post.

Funding Your
Dreams Workshop
January 26

11AM – noon

1-305 Dewey

Learn more about this workshop, hosted by the Fifth House Ensemble, here.

Anatomy of a
Startup Workshop
January 26

1PM – 2PM

118 Gleason

Learn more about this workshop, hosted by the Fifth House Ensemble, here.

NSF I-Corps Site
Cohort Kickoff
January 26

noon – 5PM

Location TBD

Find out more about the NSF I-Corps Site program here.

e5 Info Session
(formerly KEY)
January 31

3:30PM – 4:30PM

Lattimore 306A

Interested in a fifth tuition-free year to pursue your dreams? Learn more here.

Ain Workshop

January

4PM – 5:15PM

Location TBD

Find out more about this series of workshops here.

Ain CFE @
Club Rochester
February 2

3:30PM – 5PM

Feldman Ballroom

Come mingle with other innovators and learn more about this event here.

TEAM's UR
NextGen Competition
February 16

9AM – 6PM

Ortho Clinical

Learn more about TEAM’s popular Next Gen competition here.

I-Corps Node
Short Course
February 23

8AM – 5PM

Location TBD

See the UNY I-Corps Node website for more info.

Buzz Lab
Boot Camp
February 10 – March 3

10AM – 3PM

Location TBD

A business bootcamp for the UR and local community. Learn more here.

Ain Center
Lecture Series
April

Time TBD

Location TBD

See our past lecturers here.

NYBPC
Regional
April

Time TBD

Location TBD

Learn more about the NYBPC – Finger Lakes Region here.

ROC Venture
Challenge Finals
April 27

Time TBD

Hyatt Regency

Learn more about the Venture Challenge through HTR.

Forbes
Competition
May 3

1PM – 4PM

Location TBD

Learn more about the Forbes Competition here.

Mark Ain
Competition
May

Time TBD

Location TBD

Learn more about the Mark Ain Business Plan Competition here.

e5 Capstone
Presentations
April

Time TBD

Location TBD

Learn about the e5 projects from 2017-2018 school year.

TEAM
Commencement
May

Time TBD

U of R

Celebrate the TEAM Class of 2018!

Regional Summit on
Entrepreneurship
May or June

noon – 5PM

Location TBD

Entrepreneurial educators and professionals gather to talk about e’ship education in upstate NY.

By | Innovation, People

Exploring Entrepreneurship

By Ain CFE Staff
Wondering if entrepreneurship is your thing?
Curious about the innovation process?
Interested in learning more, but hesitant to jump head-first into an Ain Center event?

No worries.
We are here to help you try activities outside your comfort zone and to introduce you to a new community that can challenge your perspective and encourage creative thinking. Here we have pulled together a list of ten articles about entrepreneurship and innovation, all hand-picked to inspire interest and excitement. As you read through the pieces, you will learn about the characteristics and facets of entrepreneurship. The first four showcase recent University of Rochester entrepreneurs, while the rest put them in context of the broader enterprising community. Select just one that stands out, or take them all in – we simply want to give you a glimpse of how awesome entrepreneurship can be.

Team Meliora: Turning Trash Into Homes

UR Admissions Team (U of R)

Read Time: 3 minutes

Class of 2017 members Edgar Alaniz, Carlos “Yuki” Gonzalez, Ibrahim Mohammad, and Omar Soufan are featured in this U of R publication. This team’s goal to aid refugees across the globe inspired their business plan: build homes for displaced peoples, using LEGO-style bricks made from recycled plastic. After tying for the top prize in the 2017 Mark Ain Business Model Competition, they competed for $1M in the Hult Prize Competition – finishing among the top eight out of 50,000 entries worldwide.

From left: Ibrahim Mohammad ’17, Omar Soufan ’17, lecturer Michael Wohl, Carlos (Yuki) Gonzalez ’17, and Edgar Alaniz ’17. (University photo / Steve Dow)


Anis Kallel: “I want to make a difference” 

Jim Mandelaro (U of R)

Read Time: 2 minutes (plus a 1.5-minute video!)

Here, a recent alum discusses the ventures he worked on during his time at U of R. Kallel, who won the 2017 Charles and Janet Forbes Entrepreneurial Competition in May, is participating in the current e5 (formerly KEY) year – an extra tuition-free year that allows students to pursue an entrepreneurial project.


Oasis Foods: Not Your Average Startup 

Sarah Spoto (The Gibbson Girl)

Read Time: 4 minutes

Social entrepreneurship is growing, as evidenced by the variety of culture-conscious projects coming out of U of R. This one, Oasis Foods (formed by ’17 MBA grads Kat Cook, Fahria Omar, and Sarah Spoto), provides healthy meals to communities in need. Created during a course at the University, Oasis shows how projects can take on new life outside of the classroom.


This virtual reality company just moved to Seattle because it’s the ‘center of everything gaming and VR’

Nat Levy (GeekWire)

Read Time: 3 minutes

Alums Morgan Sinko ’16, Jordan Brooks ’16, and Lucian Copeland ’16 founded NullSpace VR (now Hardlight VR) during their time at the University of Rochester. Their passion for virtual reality recently led them to Seattle – this article explains their journey to the west coast from the U of R and provides an overview of their feature product.


Free Yourself of Your Harshest Critic, and Plow Ahead

Carl Richards (New York Times)

Read Time: 4 minutes

Carl Richards begins this piece by firing you as your own worst critic. Sounds a little funny, right? As he goes on, he argues how important trusting your work is, as well as allowing others the opportunity to decide what works and what doesn’t. Try your best and be a little fearless – in entrepreneurship, this advice is key.


Meet the World’s First Radically Generous Communities

Vicki Saunders (SheEO)

Read Time: 4 minutes

Celebrating and encouraging female entrepreneurs is as important as ever. In this article, Vicki Saunders explains the “Act of Radical Generosity,” created to assist women innovators with financial support. Already taking place on the west coast of the US, the leaders of this initiative plan to expand around the globe.

A peek inside the Student Incubator at High Tech Rochester, a space where students gain resources and training to run a successful venture.


How to turn small talk into smart conversation

Chris Colin and Rob Baedeker (TED Ideas)

Read Time: 3 minutes

Not focused on “entrepreneurship,” exactly, but these tips can help anyone become a better conversationalist. Entrepreneurs have to be able to share their ideas with a variety of audiences – this article is sort of a cheat sheet for engaging with others, even in usually-awkward situations.


 Top 5 Trends for Marketers and Entrepreneurs in 2018

Billee Howard (Forbes)

Read Time: 5 minutes

2017 was certainly a year of change. Looking to the year ahead, author Billee Howard lays out a few things that entrepreneurs should keep in mind as we move forward. Given top priority on the list? Embracing self-reflection and harnessing the ability to ask the tough questions, even when you may just want to plow ahead. Innovative ideas are wonderful, but they need serious thought to make an impact.


10 Tough-but-Essential Questions That Will Set You Up for Success in 2018 

Jessica Stillman (Inc.)

Read Time: 6 minutes

The article above stresses thoughtfulness. In this piece, Jessica Stillman offers a list of ten heavy, but insightful questions for anyone looking to make a change in 2018. Though these may seem a bit far-off if you are still a student, long-term thinking can guide you down the right path.


15 Signs You’re an Entrepreneur

Marcia Layton Turner (Entrepreneur)

Read Time: 8 minutes

For many years, critics have wondered if entrepreneurship can be taught. The author uses this list of traits to point out that, while some of these characteristics are innate, most are teachable and can become habits over time.

Ready to get to work? Find our information below!

Now that your interest is piqued, come visit us in the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship (1-211 Carol Simon Hall), send us an email (AinCFE@rochester.edu), or give us a call (585-276-3500). We offer a variety of services that help with each stage of interest: envisioning your project, exploring options, building solid framework, and launching your venture. We can’t wait to help you move forward.

By | Innovation, Rochester

UR’s Ain Center for Entrepreneurship

By Ain CFE Staff

We are the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship: a growing team of experienced entrepreneurs, incredible faculty, and knowledgeable staff. Serving the entire University of Rochester, we focus on a broad definition of entrepreneurship, turning the generation and transformation of ideas into valuable experiences, opportunities, and enterprises. Within the Ain Center, we see entrepreneurship as a mindset – both an approach to critical thinking and a teachable trait of character.

A Little of Our History

The University of Rochester’s Center for Entrepreneurship was launched in 2006, following a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. In 2015, we became the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship, recognizing the generous support of Mark S. Ain ‘67S (MBA) and his wife Carolyn. In addition to their investment in entrepreneurship, the Ain family is known for their visionary leadership and support of innovation at the University.

We also house the Technical Entrepreneurship and Management, or TEAM, graduate program. TEAM is designed for those with a technical background (such as engineering, science, or mathematics) who want to combine their expertise with a business and entrepreneurial skills set. The interdisciplinary nature of TEAM mirrors our understanding of working across traditional boundaries to create something revolutionary.

Here, we recognize entrepreneurship as a true combination of the idealistic and the pragmatic. Though an idea can start within one individual, the creation of meaningful projects takes a village. By emphasizing core traits – initiative, intuition, awareness, and determination – the Ain Center knows what is possible when everyone rallies around an imaginative concept. A science and an art, entrepreneurship is a primary way in which a society grows, improves, and changes: not only in its economy, but also in its culture and values.

The Ain Center for Entrepreneurship is located in 1-211 Carol Simon Hall.

How We Can Help You

Far more than just a specific set of business skills, entrepreneurship is a practice that is applicable to many realms of experience and interest. As a main function, the Ain Center identifies potential partnerships with students, alumni, local businesses and non-profit organizations. These collaborations provide each participant with resources, materials, and a network of support. Additionally, we coordinate entrepreneurship courses and signature programming (such as an array of business competitions, the Ain CFE Lecture Series, and our popular Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program). Though many of our students pursue technical or economic ventures, we also provide information on social entrepreneurship, a growing field that does good for both business and community.

Recently, the Ain Center won a variety of grants to help encourage entrepreneurship throughout the U of R. As a result, we host visiting faculty from Romania, cultivate fruitful relationships with other universities in upstate New York, and attain research funding for young startups. Overall, the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship facilitates creativity and gives entrepreneurs a chance to make their vision a reality.

Let’s Keep in Touch

Beginning in Fall 2017, the Ain Center stepped up its presence on social media, establishing new ways to connect to our vast community, both on-campus and online. Find us on Facebook (@UR.AinCenter) Twitter (@UR_AinCenter), and Instagram (@ur_aincenter). Keep an eye out for our blog updates and feel free to send suggestions for future posts to AinCFE@rochester.edu.

We look forward to helping you build the future.