by Ong Yun Qi, Wee Kim Wee School of Communication Studies
24 April – 14 May 2018
63 students from the Master of Science in Technopreneurship and Innovation Programme (MSc TIP) embarked on a three-week immersion trip to the United States (U.S.).
From 24 April to 14 May 2018, the students travelled across the country, building and challenging their entrepreneurial skills and knowledge in Silicon Valley, Boston and New York City.
"The three entrepreneurial hubs had different vibes and embodiments of the spirit of entrepreneurship, but with the common denominator of nurturing growth," said Dr. Michael Lochinvar Sim Abundo, a MSc TIP student and founder of OceanPixel.
The comprehensive programme included seminars, classes, corporate visits, presentations and workshops. Students could get directly involved; the Startup Case Challenge, for example, offered them a hands-on experience in tackling real-world problems faced by startups. Working in teams, they later pitched their ideas against one another in front of a panel of judges.
Mr. Kim Dongwoo, a MSc TIP student and sales professional, was tasked with advising LucidCam, a startup specialising in VR cameras that are able to capture 180-degree videos.
He said his team decided to encourage LucidCam to venture into the "education VR platform business" to reduce the level of competition within the saturated VR industry, as well as differentiate itself using "3D VR videos, specialised content, live streaming and licensing existing VR technology to phone makers".
For the students, it was a rewarding experience to have their ideas heard by these startups. "LucidCam agreed on some points and shared that their plan is to go into VR phones after their success in LucidCam," Mr Kim said.
Along the West Coast, the group also stopped by Stanford University. Dr. Vincent F. Yip, a lecturer and management consultant, kick started the session with an introduction to Silicon Valley and innovative American companies. Mr Elton B. Sherwin followed, describing what his job as a venture capitalist (VC) entails. The visit concluded with a discussion on artificial intelligence by Dr. Volker Kuebler, Chief Operating Officer for Intellisophic/Linkapedia.
The group continued the momentum with a 3-day programme at the University of California, Berkeley – one of the highlights of the trip. For Mr. Kim, he was able to apply what he learnt as a MSc TIP student to the series of talks he listened to, one of which was speaker Mr. Lucas Miller’s sharing on the ‘Power of Yet’.
“I could relate this to ‘GUTS’, which is one of the important factors as [an] entrepreneur. To be a successful leader or entrepreneur, we have to make tough calls and stick to unpopular decisions,” he said.
Likewise, Dr. Abundo found inspiration in Dr. Ikhlaq Sidhu, Founding Director of Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology.
“The content that was shared was so relevant and familiar in terms of the terms and elements and the experiences, that I couldn’t help but put 200% of my attention to Ikhlaq,” he said.
Over at Boston, the students were treated to a workshop on Entrepreneurial Thought & Action at Babson College, one of Forbes' Top 10 College Brands, and the top entrepreneurial school in the U.S. for over 20 years, according to a U.S. News & World Report.
"Dr. Heidi Neck facilitated and spoke on the first day of the workshop, and I couldn't help but agree to what she was commenting and topics she was discussing," Dr. Abundo said.
He recalled four pertinent principles that were brought up during the session - "(1) Starting with what one has, (2) Being the Only, (3) Creating oneself and (4) Action trumps everything".
He added the workshop helped reinforce his entrepreneurial attitude, focusing more on 'creation' - acting to learn and build - over 'prediction' - getting data and planning to act.
The last phase of the trip brought the group to New York City (NYC), where they stopped by at the New York Media Centre and the Centre for Social Innovation. They also engaged in interactive sessions with experts from diverse backgrounds ranging from Banking & Finance, Design & Culture and Art, Media & Communications.
"It was apt that we culminated in such a set of environments, NY gave the completeness in the spectrum of experiences for the immersion and rightly so, the inspiration circles back to the motivation of it all - the 'Why' of entrepreneurship - Impact and Contribution," Dr. Abundo said.
"It was like having an entrepreneurial retreat - a much needed oasis for the Technopreneurship and Innovation student such as myself."
The US immersion trip is a capstone activity and key component of Nanyang Technopreneurship Center's MSc TIP. With a focus on experiential learning, the MSc TIP provides students a platform to discover the technopreneurship landscape, infrastructure and key players in a global context through various stakeholders during the course of this programme.