Students, educators, innovators, and other players in the Sacramento startup ecosystem turned out for the first ever The Aggie Innovation & Startup Symposium Organized by UC Davis STEM Strategies Group. The full-day event featured local investors, entrepreneurs, and mentors with the goal of helping students who wish to embrace an entrepreneurial mindset by connecting participants with access to resources, mentors, business fundamentals and community stakeholders.
The event kicked off in the morning with a keynote address by Moneta Ventures‘ Lokesh Sikaria providing an overview of the region’s innovation and startup ecosystem along with a primer on venture capital and the outlook and trends for startups in our region. Listen to the audio podcast I captured of Lokesh’s keynote.
Following Lokesh, two panel discussions focused on supporting student innovators beyond the classroom. In the first panel discussion, Cheryl Beninga, cofounder of Fourthwave and CFO of local startup Fantag, moderated the discussion around university resources available to help student entrepreneurs.
The following panel discussion, led by Shiang-Wan Chin, and featuring past and current UC Davis students, discussed how to balance pursuing a degree and building a successful startups and included a lot of great advice, and insights for students or any new entrepreneur.
Access to social, human, and financial capital comprise the most significant barriers to entry and success for undergrads, recent college grads, and especially for women and people of color. The first afternoon panel discussion, Creating a New Normal: Increasing Diversity in the Startup Community, featured an informative and engaging discussion around women and people of color in the entrepreneurship. Listen to the audio podcast I captured of that session.
Following welcome remarks from UC Davis Chancellor Gary May, the theme turned to entrepreneurship in a corporate environment where – Jeff Ferreira-Pro from VSPs The Shop and Thomas Dault from UC Davis HM.Clause talked about how companies are fostering innovation and entrepreneurism with corporate environments.
Following Chancellor May’s remarks, the theme turned to entrepreneurship in a corporate environment where Jeff Ferreira-Pro from VSP’s The Shop and Thomas Dault from UC Davis HM.Clause talked about how companies are fostering innovation and entrepreneurism with corporate environments.
Next, the plan was to have two breakout sessions for attendees to choose from; You Can Do it All: Balancing Student and Startup Life by Rick Rasmussen or Tyler Smith from Sacramento startup Skyslope and his talk Without Failure, There is No Success. But, adapting to the dwindling numbers of students, organizers showed their entrepreneurial ability to adapt and pivoted their plan to combine the sessions into an informal discussion between Rick and Tyler.
Wrapping up the program portion for the day, John Selep from Sacramento Angels led a resource panel discussion, “From Friends, Fools, and Families, Venture Capital and Everything in Between.” This panel discussed how access to capital at all stages of a company’s life cycle is a critical ingredient to grow a successful startup ecosystem. Panelists discussed the spectrum of funding options available to startups.
The whole event concluded with a campus and community resource reception where students had the opportunity to network with startup ecosystem support organizations in the region.
I captured a few of the talks on my portable audio recorder and will release those as podcasts in the coming days. Stay tuned.