Design Thinking guest speaker

Hi, My name is Christine Rice and I am a rising Junior at the University at Albany. I am so grateful to have had the pleasure of hearing from Dhairya Pujara through the Blackstone LaunchPad/ Albany Entrepreneurs United event. As the Vice President of the club, he gave me such inspiration about creating a business that really answers the problems in the community from the perspective of those who are affected by it. Moving forward from it, I really learned the importance of getting various perspectives when one is looking for creative solutions.
Design Thinking really helped me incorporate many creative solutions to varying problems. As the speaker said, you need to make sure that the population that we are solving the problem for has a way for using the product. He even gave a great example of how he made water accessible for an area in Africa. However, the local culture has a tradition that people would walk to the water source and that’s where they would have conversations. Thus, there was no use for the water system he had put in because it was not created in a way that would benefit the community. In this case, the man thought of a solution but did not think of the correct one for the situation. This was one example of how design thinking can successfully help someone create impact and avoid mistakes in business management, I will carry this newly-gained knowledge with me forward in my career. 

Startup Weekend LA Recap

Startup UCLA - sarah and kevin.png

This past weekend, myself and two other interns had the pleasure of attending the Blackstone Startup Weekend Powered by Techstars at UCLA, California. We had the opportunity to learn what goes into a startup, have one-on-ones with extremely knowledgable mentors, and gain insight from several speakers. They taught us the steps that go into pitching an idea and how to present our business models.

            We were mentored by Darwyn Metzger, a former star of America Now, Emmy-winning journalist, and the founder and CEO of Phantom, a digital marketing and social media strategy firm. Darwyn not only gave us valuable insight into our own business idea but insight into the entire marketing industry, some of his experiences, and his opinion on a few trends in the stock market right now. He was apart of building up some of the most famous viners images and then transitioning them to stay relevant after vine shut down. Darwyn emphasized the need to stay relevant in your market, no matter how popular the service or product may be at any given time. He also highlighted the importance of entering ‘blue seas’ and not red. It is much easier to create a new market space than to compete with companies already there. Talking to Darwyn, among other mentors, was personally my favorite aspect of the weekend.

            Additionally, I had the opportunity to be one-on-two critiqued on my pitch. I had never pitched an idea in a setting like this before, making it extremely interesting to get instant feedback on some of my ideas. Two of the mentors listened to the pitch my team and I had developed and helped refine it for the final presentation. They provided a general model for creating a pitch which I look forward to using again in the future. Most of the advice they provided can be used for future endeavors.

            Traveling to California and participating in the Blackstone Startup Weekend was an amazing experience. I learned so much in such a short time span and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity. I am looking forward to sharing my new insight with the UAlbany campus.

-Sarah Bowen