“What’s the next big thing?” That is one of the questions that haunts young entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and other people from all over the world visiting Stanford University Entrepreneurship Week (further e-week).
It will be difficult to park the car or to find a seat in the auditorium if you come late, but it will be fairly easy to find someone to talk to about your new venture or an idea you are working on in order to be the next “Google”.
People you meet here will most likely be very friendly and inquisitive (in a positive way). They will enjoy talking to you about your business as well share their personal experiences from failing and starting their own ventures.
My name is Kristina Sedereviciute and I am finishing my master degree from Aarhus School of Business this year. I had a chance to attend this year’s Stanford e-week in team with four other bright students from Denmark.
A trip to Stanford was a prize I earned while winning a Silicon Valley Factor competition initiated by Innovation Center Denmark in 2009. The first competition of its kind was oriented to students from Stanford and Danish Universities.
Winning the challenge on SV Factor
The key idea of the SV Factor competition was to get familiar with Silicon Valley start-ups, analyze them and construct a portfolio of the best five start-ups (“the next big things”). Contestants were provided with a list of sixty companies from which they could form their “tops”. The trick, however, was that during the competition the initial portfolio could only be adjusted once. Moreover, only two out of five companies could have been changed. As a consequence, one had to make a good start in order to have a chance to go to the top.
The next big things/industries
The companies I had in my portfolio and that brought a great add-on in winning the SV Factor competition this year where start-ups such as: Dropbox, Foursquare, Scoopler, Heyzap and Playdom. I diversified my portfolio upon the “next big industries”, which I believed it was social gaming, real-time search and mobile social networking. My diversification proved being right, however, a thorough research and an individual product testing assisted me most in making final decisions regarding the portfolio.
Most memorable week ever!
Participation in both the SV Factor and Stanford e-week rewarded me with some unforgettable experience.
This year’s e-week program has introduced some rich and exiting sessions regarding entrepreneurship. I had a chance to attend panel discussions with Robert Scoble, MC Hammer, Loic Le Meur (founder of Twitter desktop client Seesmic and Leweb conference) , as well as to participate in more active events such as start-up job fair and idea pitching workshop with Theresa Lina Stevens (founder of Lina Group, Inc.).
It was also exiting to hear Steve Case (co-founder of AOL) sharing his story as well as get introduced to new ideas within cloud computing industry by Waren Packard (managing director at Draper Fisher Jurvetson) and Andrew Fieldman (CEO of Seamicro).
Company visits from Facebook to IDEO
It is impossible to judge which company is better than the other. All of them have unique cultures that are reflected in the way they work, arrange surroundings and present themselves in general.
For me personally every visit was exiting and rewarding. Even though I am keen on social media, I really enjoyed discussing the electric vehicle situation around the world while visiting Better Place, Inc. It was interesting to hear their predictions regarding electricity consumption in Denmark during the „boom“ of electric car industry. It was exiting to visit Facebook and capture Mark Zuckerberg (founder and CEO of Facebook) having a meeting with his colleagues or walk around Plug and Play tech center offices, where many great start-ups are situated and where phrase: „we can easily get five million dollars on that deal“ is very common around the corridors.