Three days of presentations by the biggest influencers in tech including Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Dropbox CEO Drew Houston. Intimate fireside chats focused on breaking technology news and developments in artificial intelligence, biotech, venture capital and cryptocurrencies. After parties attended by a who’s who of Silicon Valley and beyond. TechCrunch Disrupt, held in San Francisco in early September, was the place to be and a few LMU students were lucky enough to be there.
The College of Business Administration and the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering co-sponsored nine students to attend TechCrunch along with Professor David Choi and Darlene Fukuji of the Fred Kiesner Center for Entrepreneurship.
“It’s one thing to hear stories of entrepreneurs in the classroom, but it’s a totally different experience to touch and feel the hundreds of exciting startups in action,” said Choi. “It can be truly educational, empowering and perspective-changing.”
Student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with attendees saying it was an amazing experience and an incredible opportunity to learn about the fascinating world of high-tech and startups.
Senior entrepreneurship major Joseph Screen especially enjoyed the Y Combinator talks and the Startup Battlefields. “The Y Combinator talks expanded my knowledge on the dynamics of team development and the importance of technological comprehension in a business setting,” said Screen. “Startup Battlefield was interesting because we got to see startups compete on the best pitch and concept that has the potential to change the world.”
Entrepreneur in Residence Lewis Jaffe heightened LMU’s presence at the conference with a Novartis-sponsored talk on healthcare data and decision-making. His topics focused on “Pitching Perfection” and “The One Day MBA, Disrupt Business the Right Way.” Following his talk, students got special one-on-one time with senior executives from Novartis to discuss how to be an entrepreneur within a company.
“Our students were exposed to the entire tech ecosystem from startups to billion dollar enterprises,” said Jaffe, who is a strategic advisor for Novartis’s Digital Healthcare and Innovation group.
Seaver senior Natalia Dibbern had the chance to connect with people from her home countries of Uruguay and Argentina and learn about their innovative ideas.
“As a computer science major, I’m used to only thinking about the tech part of a product or company and not the business part of it,” said Dibbern. “Through this conference, I learned about entrepreneurship and business both from LMU students as well as from the talks and conversations I had with attendees.”
Senior AIMS major Muyuan Li found startups in biotech, block chains and retail especially interesting.
“The highlight of my trip was having lunch with the founder of YouVR,” said junior entrepreneurship major Matt Tejada. “It was extremely rewarding to have someone launching a startup take the time to discuss his business with a college student. I am so thankful LMU provided me with this opportunity to learn, network and collaborate with so many amazing individuals. These are the experiences that other schools do not offer and that is why I know I am at the perfect school.”
The conference also allowed senior computer science major Juan Neri to connect with other engineers who are building products to change the world. “It opened my mind to the importance of having a great scientific background, and to how blessed I am for having such a great education at LMU,” said Neri. “Being surrounded by people who are so successful and knowledgeable allowed me to grow tremendously.”
“Attending TechCrunch was such an eye opening experience,” added sophomore entrepreneurship major Percy Holtzman. “For any students interested in the technology sector, TechCrunch is an absolute must. I highly recommend students apply next year.”
There are several funds that support the activities and students in the LMU Entrepreneurship Program. Click here for a list of giving opportunities.