Carnegie Mellon University

Integrated Innovation Institute

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May 26, 2020

The Inimitable Ecosystem of Silicon Valley

By Elizabeth Donaldson

"I've decided to hitch my wagon to a rocket ship," says Yohann Abittan, looking forward to the future in Silicon Valley. "I want to continue learning from my elders and my peers."

Abittan joined the Master of Science in Technology Ventures program at the start of the 2019 spring semester, beginning his Carnegie Mellon experience at the Pittsburgh campus. After a semester of refining his engineering skills and getting to know the engineers, entrepreneurs, and software developers in his cohort, Abittan switched coasts to Silicon Valley. 

"I had the chance to come to Silicon Valley back in 2017 when I worked as an intern at the Stanford Research Institute, and last summer, I came back," he shares. "My first experience at CMU Silicon Valley was an internship in venture capital. I was living in San Francisco and was a scout, looking for startups for a small fund. I talked to about one-hundred entrepreneurs face-to-face over the course of three months and that's really how I started building my network in Silicon Valley."

For Abittan, the internship at Interlace Ventures was just the beginning. Once classes resumed in the fall, Abittan connected with the dozens of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, engineers, and innovators who spoke in his classes and who visited events hosted by student organizations like the Product Management Club and Changemakers@SV.

“When I started attending classes, I met more VCs, more successful founders and engineers, and one of the most powerful resources was the CMU alumni community,” Abittan says. CMU TEBA (short for “Tech & Entrepreneurship in the Bay Area”) is a group for Carnegie Mellon alumni in the Silicon Valley region who are interested in connecting with entrepreneurs, industry experts, technologists, and startups. Abittan says he was welcomed into the vibrant, talented community, and that the group helped him expand his network and refine his interests.

“People are really open and receptive and they really value students and the next generation,” he shares.

As Abittan thinks beyond graduation, he looks to the robust network he’s developed. Before setting out on his own venture, he plans to continue to work with and learn from the experts in the Silicon Valley region.

"The technologists here really want to make a difference. And it's been proven that there is the right chemistry here in Silicon Valley to make new, revolutionary, groundbreaking things: there is just the amount of venture capital money going around, the right the number of investors, the right number of entrepreneurs," says Abittan. "The people that are attracted by Silicon Valley are the type of people I want to be around. Though, there are many other ecosystems that are emulating Silicon Valley, this is still the cradle of innovation."

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