Silicon Valley Entrepreneurship Workshop
Every year, the Technology Entrepreneur Center sends a select group of students to Silicon Valley during winter break for a week long technology entrepreneurship workshop that includes visits to startups and leading technology companies.
Silicon Valley Entrepreneurship Workshop
This annual, week-long Silicon Valley Entrepreneurship Workshop (SVEW) exposes a select group of 25 students to technology entrepreneurship, innovation, and leadership and continues to build an entrepreneurial community at UIUC. The educational trek, which takes place during Winter Break, features interaction with corporate leaders, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurial alumni in various stages of a startup life cycle that share lessons learned about entrepreneurship.
Students must be full-time University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign students for the full academic year. TEC reserves the right to accept applications after the deadline should all available spaces not fill by that time.
The workshop is primarily funded by The Grainger College of Engineering and generous donors. Students are expected to pay only a small portion of the cost of the trip. Historically, the fee for students has ranged from $200-$600. In select cases, the student fee may be waived completely. Lodging, most meals, and airfare are arranged by TEC. In some instances, alternate arrangements may be made in the case of students departing from locations other than Chicago.
We strongly encourage all interested students to apply for the Silicon Valley Entrepreneurship Workshop regardless of whether cost is an issue. Need-based financial aid is available to cover part or all of the student fee.
Talks & visits have included:
- Tom Siebel | C3 AI
- Esther Rasche | Carta
- Max Levchin | Affirm
- Sundari Mitra | Intel Corporation
- Shawn Carolan | Menlo Ventures
- Marcin Kleczynski | Malwarebytes
- KR Sridhar | Bloom Energy
- Ravi Thakkar | Impossible Foods
- Melonee Wise | Fetch Robotics
- Google, Tesla, and many more
- 275+ students have participated since the first workshop in 2009
- 100+ alumni have participated in this unique engagement opportunity
- Students who attended previous workshops are now hosting current students at companies in Silicon Valley as alumni
January 2023 Speaker Lineup
Karina Anglada, a UIUC alum (Broadcast Journalism, BS, and Library and Information Science, MS) is a Strategic Development Manager with Adobe. Karina is also an award-winning editor, producer, and strategic business executive with over ten years of experience working in post-production with multiple professional sports teams.
Aunkur Arya, a UIUC alum (Economics 1998) is a Venture Partner at Menlo Ventures focused on fintech. He draws on his deep experience as both an early-stage and public company operator at Braintree, PayPal, and Google to find promising teams and ideas that will become enduring companies. Aunkur is excited to lock arms with founders who are passionate about and have experienced a “hair on fire” problem firsthand and therefore are uniquely equipped to solve it. He enjoys doing the real work of startup-building alongside founders—making introductions, hiring, thinking through product features, and helping structure partnerships and go-to-market teams.
Eric Berdahl, a UIUC alum (Honors Biology 1989), is Group Engineering Manager - Premiere Pro at Adobe. He manages a team with around 45 engineers worldwide that develops and delivers Premiere Pro, Adobe's flagship video editing product and the backbone of television, film, and video products for millions of people.
Kelly Berger, a UIUC alum (Electrical Engineering 1995), has co-founded several companies including Tiny Prints, which was acquired by Shutterfly in 2011 for $333 million. He is also the co-founder of Level Up, a MasterClass and mobile training app to disseminate proprietary methods and techniques taught to professional athletes, Olympians, CEOs, entrepreneurs, financial executives, physicians, attorneys, and other professionals for over 20 years—via video content combined with a mobile app to practice, implement and build a lifelong habit for great accountability, self-confidence and ultimately success, health, and happiness.
Devin Bhushan, a UIUC alum (Computer Science 2014), is the founder and CEO of Squint. After graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, he started his career at Yahoo!, working on Fantasy Sports. After Yahoo, Devin led the AR engineering team at Splunk. It was there where he developed a passion for AR and started dreaming of a world where AR could fundamentally transform the way we access information. In 2021, Devin founded Squint to make this dream a reality. Devin’s first use case for Squint was to attach a note on his coffee grinder to remind him of the settings required to grind beans for the french press.
Shawn Carolan, a UIUC alum, is a Partner at Menlo Ventures. As an early-stage investor, Shawn focuses on companies that serve the “utilitarian consumer”—the individual seeking better, faster, and cheaper ways to move through life. Because basic human needs are persistent, he looks at how people are spending their money and time to assess the value and utility of a product or service. This approach inspired Shawn to invest early in Roku, Uber, and Chime, long before they became household names.
Roger Dickey, a UIUC alum, is the co-founder and CEO of Made Renovation, a company that streamlines the bathroom renovation process. Roger is a serial entrepreneur & active angel investor based in San Francisco. He entered the games industry in 2007 with a Facebook app startup, launching 19 apps with the largest generating 300M+ page views per month. After an acquisition by Zynga, Roger went on to found Mafia Wars (100M users), FishVille (35M users), and 5 other titles in his 3 years there. After leaving Zynga, Roger launched Gigster, a marketplace for software development services, which was acquired by Ionic in May 2021.
Michael Gold, a UIUC alum (Electrical Engineering 1986), leads Intermedia, a Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and business cloud email provider that delivers easy-to-use and secure communication and collaboration solutions. Gold has held a variety of other executive roles in the industry, including CEO of software company, Vicorp, and Senior Vice President of Qwest Communications. Gold holds a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Stanford University.
Jawed Karim, a UIUC alum (Computer Science), is co-founder of YouTube and the first person to upload a video to the site. In 2008, he launched YVentures, which has invested in companies such as Airbnb, Palantir, Reddit, and Eventbrite.
Vijay Karunamurthy, a UIUC alum (Biochemistry and Mathematics 2000), is Head of Engineering at Scale AI. Scale AI accelerates the development of AI applications by helping machine learning teams generate high-quality ground truth data. Previously, Vijay was a Director of Engineering at Apple, where he worked on scalability, personalization and ML research for the App Store, TV+, Apple Watch and more. Prior to Apple, Vijay led Search and Discovery engineering teams at YouTube, and co-founded (with Steve Chen and Chad Hurley) startups focused on live video and content discovery (acquired by Apple and BlueJeans Network.)
Marcin Kleczynski, a UIUC alum (Computer Science 2012), is CEO and co-founder of Malwarebytes, a cybersecurity company specializing in simple, intuitive cyberprotection for both consumer and businesses. While attending the University of Illinois, Marcin operated Malwarebytes from his dorm room. Marcin believes everyone deserves the right to be safe online, and stands behind the belief by continuing to offer a free consumer product. As CEO, Marcin has overseen the phenomenal growth of Malwarebytes from a one-man band to a company with over 800 employees and offices across the globe. Today he continues to lead the strategic expansion of the business and guide the long-term vision for the research and development teams. Marcin is recognized as a foremost authority on cyberthreats, receiving numerous awards including the Silicon Valley’s 40 Under 40, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Forbes 30 Under 30.
Amit Kulkarni, a UIUC alum (Electrical Engineering 1997), is CEO and Co-founder of Heymarket. Heymarket is a leading business text platform and HubSpot Connect partner with more than 1,000 customers. Amit is also co-founder of Manymoon, one of the most popular online, social project management tools. Manymoon reached 100,000 businesses on the platform and was acquired by Salesforce.com in 2011.
Kat Manalac is Head of Outreach at Y Combinator. Kat has been a partner at Y Combinator since 2014, and is responsible for strategically reaching out to prospective founders and overseeing public relations for Y Combinator. Prior to joining Y Combinator, Kat was the Chief of Staff to Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit. Y Combinator is widely known startup accelerator that has helped launch companies such as Reddit, Airbnb, DoorDash, Dropbox, and Coinbase.
Samir Mitra, a UIUC alum (Electrical Engineering 1988), is the founder and CEO of Reya Health. Reya Health is a digital healthcare software company currently in stealth mode.
Sundari Mitra, a UIUC alum (Electrical Engineering 1987), is a two-time CEO, entrepreneur and seasoned technology executive. She is currently Chief Incubation Officer, Corporate Vice President, and General Manager of the Emerging Growth and Incubation Group at Intel where she leads a 5000-person team focused on developing best-in-class IP. As Founder and CEO of NetSpeed, she built a global company that transformed SoC design for the world’s leading semiconductor companies before a successful exit. Sundari is also a role model and champion of improving diversity and inclusion in the work-place and actively mentors diverse CEOs, executives & entrepreneurs to help them achieve business and career growth.
Martin Neumann, a UIUC alum (Nuclear Engineering 2007) is Chief Operations Officer at View, Inc. View is the leader in smart building technologies that transform buildings to improve human health and experience, reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, and generate additional revenue for building owners. View Smart Windows use artificial intelligence to automatically adjust in response to the sun, increasing access to natural light and outdoor views while eliminating the need for blinds and minimizing heat and glare. View is installed and designed into more than 90 million square feet of buildings including offices, hospitals, airports, educational facilities, hotels, and multi-family residences.
Greg Rudin, a UIUC alum (History and Sociology), leads Menlo Labs at Menlo Ventures. Menlo Labs is a venture studio and incubator. Greg has 20 years experience working with notable e-commerce brands and a variety of fast-growing software companies. He’s taken his love of early stage company building to angel investing, advising, and working with dozens of founders across multiple sectors including travel, digital health, entertainment, IoT, ed tech, food, SaaS, future of work, and more.
Prashant Shah, a UIUC alum, is the Managing Director of TiE LaunchPad, an accelerator for enterprise startups. Prashant specializes in helping startups reach their potential, and has been an early stage venture investor since 2001. Prior to entering the venture capital field, he spent many years defining and launching high tech products, working at enCommerce, Cypress Semiconductor, and AT&T.
Tom Siebel, a UIUC alum (BA in History, MS in Computer Science, and an honorary doctorate in Engineering), is the founder and CEO of C3 AI. C3 AI is a leading Enterprise AI software provider. Tom Siebel also co-founded Siebel Systems which was acquired by Oracle in 2006. A visionary thinker, a tech titan, and a committed philanthropist, he has donated funds to the University of Illinois to build the Siebel Center for Computer Science, the Siebel Center for Design, and has created two endowed full professorships.
Tom Sun, a UIUC alum (Electrical Engineering 2010), is CEO and founder of AmpUp. AmpUp is the leading electric vehicle (EV) charging operating system that enables drivers, hosts, and fleets to charge stress-free. Our technology makes it easy for businesses and property owners to manage multiple charge stations and locations in one platform. We enable our customers to achieve their electrification goals faster and easier than they imagined possible. With headquarters in Cupertino, CA, AmpUp’s network and software solutions have been deployed for customers across North America and Europe. Key customers include JLL, CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield, Citizens Bank, Hilton Garden Inn, and Holiday Inn.
Ravi Thakkar, a UIUC alum (Electrical and Computer Engineering 2007), is Senior Vice President of Product and Commercialization at Impossible Foods. Impossible Foods is transforming the global food system by creating better ways to make meat, dairy and fish without using animals. At Impossible, Ravi and his team are responsible for bringing products from concept to launch. This includes product strategy, global product management, development and commercialization, program management, insights, pricing and business management, and launch management. He has contributed to Impossible’s prolific growth by creating the product organization from the ground up that has delivered over 50 products across 4 continents.
Nitesh Trikka is Chief Product Officer at View, Inc. View is the leader in smart building technologies that transform buildings to improve human health and experience, reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, and generate additional revenue for building owners. View Smart Windows use artificial intelligence to automatically adjust in response to the sun, increasing access to natural light and outdoor views while eliminating the need for blinds and minimizing heat and glare. Every View installation includes a cloud-connected smart building platform that can easily be extended to reimagine the occupant experience. View is installed and designed into more than 90 million square feet of buildings including offices, hospitals, airports, educational facilities, hotels, and multi-family residences.