Entrepreneurship Program At Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley Opens with Idea Workshop
Kicking off its second year, the Master of Science Software Management 12-month intensive Entrepreneurship program opened with a weeklong faculty-led Idea Workshop as part of Orientation activities. This year’s class wasted no time diving into the entrepreneurial boot camp, which aims to introduce students to a real world understanding of how a product is brought to market in Silicon Valley.
The Valley works at a breakneck speed – constant change means adaptation is crucial to success. Entrepreneurially minded students arrive on campus from all over the world with goals of becoming founders, software managers, innovators, and disruptors, and the need for entrepreneurial experience within this hotbed of activity. "The Idea Workshop gives students an accelerated on-ramp experience to generate, evaluate and select ideas to pursue in the program. Daily, they practice techniques to brainstorm original ideas, critique existing ideas, and learn to identify affinities so that the resulting combined proposals have a higher potential for success. Teams self-form around the most promising ideas and according to the individual students interests," explains Gladys Mercier, Director of the Software Management program.
The workshop also included visits to startups and brought guest speakers, many of whom are Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley alumni, to share insights into the startup process. "Having launched a startup myself, I hope to shed light on how an idea turns into an actual business," said Manoj Rajshekar (MS SM ‘11), who along with fellow CMUSV graduate Shekar Deo, launched their startup, EngageClick this past year. He advised students to commit fully to ideas they believe in even if there is a risk of failure. "You can always rebuild. There is never a loss in what you're trying to do."
Faculty brought their own industry experience into workshop sessions, introducing students to entrepreneurial best practices and key skills in management, metrics, product definition and strategy. Throughout the year, faculty connections allow for numerous guest speakers such as VCs to advise students and further expose them to the Silicon Valley software industry. They also act as mentors, encouraging students to innovate. “Entrepreneurs are not normal. Most people are content working in big corporations promising regularized rewards. We aren’t motivated that way. We want to see something we’ve created on our own, Sheryl Root, a software management professor, told students.
For some students, the Entrepreneurship program will help them innovate within a larger company. Corporate teams, for example, have the opportunity to go through the program and develop products and services for their existing companies. For others, the classes provide valuable experience working in a startup atmosphere, forming the foundation for future career goals. “I now want to work on my own startup. The workshop has left me so inspired to dream big and work on achieving those dreams,” said Class of 2013 student, Medha Ghatikesh.
Last year, Carnegie Mellon University Silicon Valley debuted its full-time Master of Science Software Management program with a focus on software innovation and entrepreneurship. Five of the eight students who completed the inaugural program are now in the process of launching their own startups birthed out of ideas developed during the academic year.