Bond University recently gave twenty-six business students the opportunity to join an annual entrepreneurial pilgrimage to California’s Silicon Valley.
Once there, the group of undergraduate and postgraduate students were able to engage with California’s world of innovation and soak in inspiration from a number of educational visits to a range of entrepreneurial environments.
Bond’s entrepreneurial pilgrimage included tours and talks provided by leading start-ups like Google, Twitter, Rocketspace, Omada Health, Mitchell Lake, US Market Access, Salesforce, StartupHouse, Cobalt Labs, Nitro, VMware, Hacker Dojo as well as the California Academy of Sciences and Stanford University’s ‘d.school’.
Tour leader and Bond’s Head of Entrepreneurship Baden U’Ren, said the start-ups the students visited were so different in terms of scale and maturity, yet the similarities between them were even more fascinating.
“They all run small, collaborative, cross-disciplinary teams made up of people with their eyes wide open for the next opportunity and an absolute passion for innovation,” Mr U’Ren said.
First-year dual Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Laws student, Emma Sam, said many of the things they did on the tour could simply not be experienced as a tourist or visitor to the Valley.
“The tour was a true once-in-a-lifetime experience, that provided me with amazing opportunities, including the ability to build networks with MBA and EMBA students and the inspiration to create a business in the future.”
Students were also able to hear from founders of high growth organisations, like Tasmanian-born Sam Chandler, CEO of Nitro who started his business in Melbourne.
The interactions gave the students a normalised perspective toward the entrepreneurial process.
Mr U’Ren said those experiences helped students stop and think, “‘hey, he had an idea, got it off the ground and it’s now a successful business… if he did it, then I can too’.”
The study group also had the chance to visit a number of Bond alumni who are now living and working in Silicon Valley, and find out how individuals cut from the same cloth are able to follow the road to success.
They witnessed first-hand the power and importance of establishing, maintaining and growing relationships and networking, Mr U’Ren said.
Janelle van de Velde, who is currently studying her Executive MBA and works for Tim Fairfax AC, said Silicon Valley was ‘infectious’.
“It has a tremendous community vibe about it and the ‘pay it forward’ mentality is remarkably refreshing, so to be able to have the opportunity to witness this first-hand was truly unique,” she said.
“It was fantastic to be given the opportunity to meet organisational founders and key strategic and operational staff who were so generous with their time, and reinforced what we had learnt through our classes.”
Dual MBA/Masters of Project Management student, Tim Tews of Germany described the insight he gained from the study tour as ‘eye-opening’.
“We didn’t just learn more about the guiding principles of entrepreneurship – like the networking effect and the importance of information exchange in the entrepreneurial culture – we got to meet, talk to, and ask questions of people who are living what we are learning about, which you just can’t get from reading a textbook or sitting in a classroom.
“The amount we learned in one week was amazing. There were so many learnings, new experiences and new impressions – it’s not until later you realise how much you learnt and how you can apply the knowledge and information to your ideas, career and life,” he said.