Silicon Valley Workshop 2015

1/30/2015 Preena Patel

The Technology Entrepreneur Center held its 6th annual Silicon Valley Workshop this January in California. For this year’s trip, TEC received over 230 applications. From there, 65 were chosen to move forward to the interviewing stage. In the end, 32 students were selected to participate in the Silicon Valley Workshop. This most recent trip had the most diverse team of students ranging from a mix of undergraduate, masters, and PhD students to having the most females ever to attend the workshop.

During the 5-day workshop, participants flew to Silicon Valley where they visited over 20 startup companies and alumni of the University of Illinois. One of the highlights for many students was when they were given the opportunity to visit Roger Dickey in his home to partake in a pitching competition.  Divya Tankasala and Asha Kirchhoff, Bioengineers and co-founders of U of I student startup, Tube Access Point won the competition.

They state, “It was very powerful to see that even though Tube Access Point is a medical device, it was a compelling product to successful entrepreneurs in a different industry. In both rounds of the pitch we got valuable advice from seasoned entrepreneurs and it was very interesting to hear the perspectives of professionals outside of the medical device industry. We’re going to take their advice and our momentum from this win and work harder than ever to get Tube Access Point to market.”

The Silicon Valley Workshop exceeded many students’ expectations.

Peter Fiflis, PhD candidate in Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering as well as recipient of the “Craziest Pitch” during the competition states, “The trip was a confluence of great people, great ideas and great energy. Not only did we meet, talk with, receive advice from, and network with a series of incredibly successful people; we did it with an excellent group of University of Illinois students and staff as well. From discussions on fuel cell energy and smart grid technology, to talks about data sharing and malware removal, to debates about how best to transport people around a city, the speakers that we talked with were filled with enthusiasm about solving problems and encouraging us to be innovators as well.”

Tankasala and Kirchhoff share, “The trip was an incredible experience. Everyone who we met on the trip, whether they were other students or expert entrepreneurs, offered a new experience or lesson for us to learn from. It was especially useful for us to hear how different entrepreneurs overcame business obstacles and still remained true to their technical vision. We passionately believe that Tube Access Point is a product that can help patients, but the stories and lessons from this trip give us even more motivation and inspiration to make this product a reality.”