This Summer at the Close School: Get Inspired!
Entrepreneurs look not only to inspire, but to be inspired.
July 14, 2016
Entrepreneurs look not only to inspire, but to be inspired. This inspiration may come from long thought sessions in the car, discussions among friends and family, or simply running down the list of Entrepreneur Mag's "100 Brilliant Companies to Watch [this year]". However, in an ever shrinking world, one may have to go beyond his/her comfort zone to find a captivating influence. For some Baiada/Close starters, this means traveling.
During Drexel's spring break, the Close School of Entrepreneurship's students spend their time off participating in a fully immersive, one of a kind, learning experience. The most recent trip, the students had the opportunity to visit one of the most prominent entrepreneurial ecosystems in the world: Silicon Valley. Among these students was Paris Gramann, a freshman member of the Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community. Paris and her peers toured the offices of mid-sized startups like Metromile, as well as organizations as large as Apple.
When asked if the trip had any lasting impact for her, Paris replied: "Coming back from the trip, I became more aware of the impact of the strong relationships that my peers and I had been creating throughout the year… We have seen that entrepreneurship is a long and sometimes difficult path, and knowing that we have the support from the people on our journey means so much to the [members of the ELLC]."
Mansoor Siddiqui and Zafar Saifi, current Baiada Institute incubatees, founded Project One in early 2015. Project One specializes in providing an adaptive and engaging online learning platform. In early 2016, Mansoor and Zafar embarked across the world to East Africa, particularly Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique. The duo immersed themselves in the wildlife and the culture by visiting various national parks, safaris; they even trekked to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro (equipped with their Drexel flag as seen below).
Siddiqui and Zafar also met with many African business owners and entrepreneurs - including Drexel alumnus and 2015 Startup Day keynote speaker, Dhairya Pujara. Traveling to most universities in the region, including some coworking/incubator spaces, Mansoor came to a substantial realization.
"Africa is ready for Project One, much more than we had anticipated. 3G is becoming increasingly more common, and the infrastructure for Fiber Optic connections are becoming more prevalent. With companies like Facebook making agreements with local cellular companies and data providers, it unveils Project One to be much more realistic."
Ben Melman, founder of Booksmart, an app that helps consolidate important tour information for music artists and their managers, made a stopover in Los Angeles this summer. He was able to meet with team members who work with musical acts such as Fifth Harmony and Snoop Dogg. During discussions with these artists' teams, Melman discovered that their platform was closer to launch than he had anticipated. "It was a further confirmation that what we are building is not only usable in it's current state, but also scalable to tours of any size."
Skyler Logsdon, Drexel alumnus and Head of Growth & BD at Prynt, visited Swansea, Wales for a soccer match and left with fresh insight on international scalability. He found inspiration in the Swansea community's receptiveness to technology and after first-hand experiences, quickly realized many international customers rely on mass scaling.
"It's pressure for us to create not just for our local economies and country’s economy, but to build technology and services that have a scalable playbook to help the people overseas improve their quality of life."
After his experiences in Wales, he returned to San Francisco with fresh lenses focused on delivering international users the same experience domestic customers enjoy. These kinds of experiences spark ambition and inspire starters like Melman and Logsdon to leave the office in search of more knowledge that can benefit one's outlook and ultimately propel the business forward.
Many people will tell you that the secret to a successful startup is a dark room, headphones, and long nights; however, these starters may now have a different interpretation of the path to success as a result of their adventures. Although the word "inspiration" may suggest an intangible return, Gramann, Siddiqui, Saifi, Melman, and Logsdon were able to source real, actionable advice and direction to apply to their current and future projects.
Logan Levenson, Communications, Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship