Carnegie Mellon University

2022-2024 James R. Swartz Entrepreneurial Fellows

Saisri AkondiSaisri Akondi

Master of Integrated Innovation in Products and Services, Integrated Innovation Institute

Saisri is a student at the Integrated Innovation Institute pursuing Master of Integrated Innovation in Products and Services. Her focus has been on developing skills to integrate Design, Business and Engineering to develop human centered products, services, and systems. Her goal is to design for human dignity and improve healthcare experience for people.

She did her undergraduate studies in Biomedical Engineering at Manipal Institute of Technology in India. As an undergrad student she was a Co-Investigator for India’s first digital vaccination record keeping system for migrant workers, for which she was awarded Grand Challenges Exploration Award by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. After her undergraduate studies, was a Social Innovation Fellow with Government of India where she analyzed the unmet needs and gaps in the Indian healthcare system for
older adults. Here she developed customizable gynecological prosthesis for post-menopausal women with pelvic organ prolapse. She also founded her startup Axolotl Health Private Limited with a vision to address unmet healthcare needs of low and middle income countries with human centered and affordable innovation.

Saisri believes that Innovation begins with constraints and can be practiced everywhere. She is passionate about encouraging women in entrepreneurship and has worked with several organizations like He for She, United Nation Women and Confederation of Indian Industry.

When she is not working on her Startup and projects, Saisri enjoys debating! She loves discussing international politics and can strike a conversation about policies and technology. She is a great cook (attested by her friends and family) and specializes in Indian cuisine. She enjoys meeting new people and is always ready to help, so please reach out to her to have a conversation.

Saisri's LinkedIn

Aisya AzizAisya Aziz

Masters of Science in Technology Ventures, Carnegie Institute of Technology

Aisya is a master’s student in the Masters of Science in Technology Ventures program at Carnegie Mellon University. Aisya has always believed that technology can change the world for the better, and that was why she pursued her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at University of Maryland, College Park. Upon graduation from her undergraduate degree, Aisya decided to join her family's Software-as-a-Service business in Malaysia.

Aisya helped the business grow from a 5-person team to a 30-person team. She has represented the company and Malaysia in the Asia Pacific ICT Alliance Awards for Best Software for Small & Medium Enterprise. While working in the family business, she learned 2 main things: 1) People are important in a business success. You need a good team that supports and empowers one another, and Aisya's vision was always to encourage learning and growth within the team. 2) Your product doesn't necessarily have to be high-tech to make an impact. You need to have a deep understanding of what the problem is and how you are solving it.

Aisya has worked in a variety of products involving B2B (e.g., FinTech, ERPs and Donation Management System). She loves numbers (Her mom is a retired Math teacher!). In her spare time, she loves learning from other people's challenges and building products to solve them. Her entrepreneurial interest lies in making the world a better place and building along an inclusive and empowering team while doing so.

Outside of school and work, Aisya juggles between cooking, changing diapers, playing hide-and-seek, building Duplo’s marble runs and taking crayons off her baby's mouth (haha!). Aisya is a mother of two kids and is always seeking activities to do with the kids. Aisya enjoys traveling, playing badminton and basketball, and a good hike.

Feel free to connect / reach out to talk about motherhood (and playdates!), startup ideas, experience from a team of 5 to 30, becoming badminton partners or really anything!

Aisya's LinkedIn

Serena DaoSerena Dao

Masters in Business Administration, Tepper School of Business

Serena is a first-year at the Tepper School of Business. Hailing from Freeport, ME, she studied Chemistry and Physics at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. After graduation, Serena was a Test Engineer at a startup called Ginkgo Bioworks, where she pioneered the high-throughput automation chemical analysis platform that has now grown to be a COVID Testing platform called Concentric. Concentric currently supports four major airports and over fifty schools.

In San Francisco, she transitioned into food and biotech startups and has majorly contributed to the launch of two plant medicine products currently in stage two clinical trials and has her name on several patent products. Serena pivoted into a climate science startup, called Charm Industrial, where she designed the company’s future science lab space and experiments on synthetic gas, biochar, and bio-oil.

Her career achievements have been recognized at the Forbes 30 Under 30 conference and Amazon’s first Machine Learning & AI, Automation, Robotics, and Space conference called re:MARS.

The heart of her entrepreneurship is the intersection of science and business. She is also currently a University Fellow for Grit Ventures, focusing on energy infrastructure and carbon capture, as well as a Student in Residence at Celerity Labs, working on market mapping and researching for early-stage biotechnology lab buildout. Her post-graduation goals are uncertain, but she knows they will involve startups, science and technology.

Outside of classes, you can find that Serena will always invite you to come climbing, will drop everything if you point out a good thrift store to her and loves a good fantasy book recommendation. She writes monthly for the Life at Tepper blog. Follow along or say hi on LinkedIn!

Serena's LinkedIn

Tony HeAnthony (Tony) He

Masters in Business Administration, Tepper School of Business

Tony is a first-year MBA candidate at the Tepper School of Business. Before coming to Tepper, Tony had many endeavors. For the past decade, Tony has devoted his life to the Snowsports industry. He was the first Chinese to obtain the highest snowboard coaching certificate from the American Association of Snowboard Instructors. He spends most of his time on Rocky Mountain sliding sideways. He worked as a coach with the Chinese Winter Paralympic Team, and together, they earned one gold, one silver, and one bronze medal at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games. He also spends part of his time training instructors for Vail Resorts.

Tony has developed deep roots within the ski/snowboard industry. He started his own outdoor consulting company in 2016 with a focus on three major areas: Offering Snowsport training, special equipment sales, and helping boutique brands enter the overseas market. Tony also writes technical articles and conducts product reviews for overseas audiences. His latest entrepreneurial interest is to leverage his boot-fitting knowledge (yes, he is a professional boot fitter as well) to create an enterprise solution for ski/snowboard rental shops to help reduce their customer waiting time.

After the snow melts, Tony also enjoys all things outdoor, climbing, scuba diving, mountain biking, and whitewater rafting.

Tony believes in helping people, whether it is to help young athletes to achieve their Olympic dream or simply lend a hand to his fellow cohorts. If you would like to chill with Tony, don’t be afraid to reach out!

Tony's LinkedIn

Sarvesh KarkhanisSarvesh Karkhanis

Master of Science, Technology Ventures, Carnegie Institute of Technology

Sarvesh is a graduate student in the Masters of Science in Technology Ventures program at Integrated Innovation Institute, that focuses on entrepreneurship. Sarvesh is featured innovator, entrepreneur, maker movement patron, TEDx speaker, venture capitalist and a startup mentor.

Sarvesh’s invention of a medical device having potential to save lives of pre-mature babies, was also featured in the news. He has received a number of awards, such as at a conference at MIT Media Lab, for his project about rapid prototyping of medical devices. Sarvesh has also served as a Judge and Mentor at a number of technology entrepreneurship events at Carnegie Mellon, MIT and Harvard. Many startups that he mentored through these events have received awards, grants and further funding. Hence in a way, Sarvesh has been encouraging innovators to start their own startups, and helping them with the process.

Sarvesh is a public speaker and an educator. He was invited to talk about pandemic-related innovations at a TEDx conference, and about IoT medical devices innovations at IEEE 7th World IoT Forum. He is also a part of the educational, no-code focused ‘MIT App Inventor’ project at MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), as a Certified MIT Master Trainer. Sarvesh is well versed with technology domains such as Robotics, Medical Devices, Consumer Hardware, Educational Technology, Electric Vehicles and Renewable Energy.

In addition to technology, Sarvesh is interested in business related aspects of technology domain. Sarvesh has experience of working as an early-stage Venture Capitalist in technology field. He is well versed with venture investments, fundraising, business development, technology commercialization, and intellectual property management. He has completed advances courses in Intellectual Property
Management and Patent Co-operation Treaty from World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Sarvesh envisions being a part of a venture capital business that is highly focused on pragmatically solving small problems with big impact.

When not working on his own projects, Sarvesh likes reading, traveling and meeting new people. Sarvesh considers himself a people’s person and considers listening to others as one of his biggest strengths. Sarvesh loves networking and he has a vast network of highly motivated and inspiring people. Sarvesh received help, support and mentorship from many people throughout his career. Sarvesh believes in paying it forward and hence believes in helping others.

Sarvesh's LinkedIn

Adam KnappAdam Knapp

Master's of Information Systems Management, Heinz College

Adam is a first year graduate student in Heinz College at CMU majoring in Information Systems Management focusing in Business Intelligence Data Analytics. He grew up on his family's farm in southwestern Pennsylvania before attending the United States Military Academy at West Point where he studied Electrical Engineering. During his undergraduate studies, Adam led the Army's Fencing Team, conducted research relating to electrical grid modernization, and led an undergraduate team to win National Renewable Energy Lab's Solar Decathlon competition. Upon graduation, Adam was commissioned as an Engineer Officer in the United States Army where he served in a variety of roles culminating as an Engineer Support Company Platoon Leader in the Immediate Response Force. Although he enjoyed jumping out of airplanes with his soldiers and managed many major construction projects, Adam has shifted gears by attending CMU as an Army A.I. Scholar. Upon graduation, he will serve at the Army's A.I.Integration Center developing A.I. products for military applications.
Growing up in an old coal mining town, Adam appreciates how communities can benefit from entrepreneurs. He's passionate about solving problems and thinks A.I. solutions have a lot of capacity for disruption. He is currently pursuing a startup idea with Project Olympus and is humble to learn all he can. Adam is excited to be a part of the CMU entrepreneurship community and is looking forward to solving problems with entrepreneurial solutions.
In his free time, Adam loves trying new things and challenging himself. He's active in his church and enjoys spending time with family and friends. He loves staying active either in the CrossFit gym or in one of his many outdoor hobbies (cycling, hiking, skiing, climbing, ect.). He enjoys cooking great food and is always perfecting his family's various meat products/recipes.

Adam's LinkedIn

Oravee SmithipholOravee Smithiphol

Master of Science in Public Policy & Management, Heinz College

Oravee is a serial entrepreneur and intrapreneur from Thailand. She has 7 years of experience in digital marketing and early-stage business initiation for 5 organizations. In 2015, she was a founding member of a logistics network platform and a recipient of national startup awards. In 2016, she was a team leader of the creator of Southeast Asia’s largest tech conference and Thailand’s largest startup database platform. Later on, she served as a co-founder and managing partner of Thailand’s leading digital marketing education & publications and Inbound Marketing consulting company. She is also a co-author of the nation’s first Inbound Marketing book. 
She is passionate about public-interest technology, sustainability and social enterprises and is currently a graduate student in Public Policy & Management at Heinz College.
Outside of work, she enjoys CrossFit, martial arts, yoga and blogging. She also regularly contributes as a mentor and guest speaker for younger generations in her free time. 

Oravee's LinkedIn

Nicholas SwaminathanNicholas Swaminathan

Masters in Business Administration, Tepper School of Business

Nick’s entrepreneurial journey began in undergrad at Georgia State University where he simultaneously pursued advanced research honors in philosophy, worked at a burgeoning automotive startup and built his own business offering high end laptops at low monthly rates. By the time of graduation all three endeavors had reached their natural conclusion. He, however, took the knowledge he had gained and began work at a major bank, Truist, as a digital data analyst. During his time there he further refined his skills around digital sales and marketing as well as gained a master’s in science of analytics from Georgia Institute of Technology with concentration computational analytics. Leveraging his data science skills at the bank he developed a strong background in natural language processing, customer segmentation and forecasting. Nick then took those skills to prominent Atlanta startup, Calendly, before leaving to pursue an MBA and his newest venture.

Currently Nick is working on leveraging natural language processing to enable people to query databases with no skills training required providing the next step in data democratization. When not working or in school he enjoys playing video games with his brother and D&D with the same group of friends since middle school. That said, having been a boy scout and backpacking trek leader he is no stranger to the outdoors and all the joy it provides. He is passionate about the issues of social justice, climate change and poverty alleviation feeling that entrepreneurship is the best avenue to make an impact for all three. As he is always happy to help others, feel free to reach out to him via linked in or email through the links below.

Nicholas' LinkedIn

Liana Tai Liana Tai

Masters in Business Administration, Tepper School of Business

Liana is a first-year MBA student at the Tepper School of Business. She launched her career as a Consultant for PwC in Hong Kong, where she led business and technical teams in the design of digital products and experiences for global corporations. She was also deeply involved in PwC’s internal strategic innovation initiatives, managing strategy and funding proposals for executive leaders and engaging in high level discussions around structural and cultural change. Liana’s work in new technology ventures sparked a keen interest in entrepreneurship, and she returned to the US to collaborate closely with startup founders in early go-to-market and fundraising stages. Post MBA, Liana seeks to leverage her background in product and strategy to scale high-potential businesses and teams.

Outside of work and school, Liana loves to travel, learn new languages, visit art museums, and go backpacking. After living in Asia for six years, she carries a keen sense of adventure and is excited to build and share new experiences with the Tepper Outdoor Adventure Club.

Liana is always happy to chat about professional and personal passions. Please feel free to reach out via the links below.

Liana's LinkedIn


Shivam TripathyShivam Tripathy

Masters of Science in Robotic Systems Development, Robotics Institute

Shivam is a Master’s student at the Robotics Institute, School of Computer Science, where he is pursuing an MS in Robotic Systems Development.

He completed his bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from MIT World Peace University in Pune, India, during which he worked on a variety of high-impact projects. He steered multiple technical teams to top prizes at national-level competitions, designed wearable robots at the Defense Research and Development Organization - India’s premier defense research agency, and developed battery-swapping technologies for electric vehicles at Sun Mobility, a clean-tech startup in the heart of India’s startup capital in Bengaluru.

Prior to CMU, Shivam honed his technical and leadership skills as a Systems Engineer at Asteria Aerospace, a fast-growing robotics startup having recently been acquired by India’s biggest conglomerate. Here, he witnessed the process of taking an idea from a concept to mass-producing thousands of units per month. Through his role, Shivam worked in multi-disciplinary technical teams to devise robust hardware solutions and created efficient organization-level processes that enabled scaling up the solution.

Shivam believes that Robotics and AI will benefit society in two major ways - the first is by assisting humans to improve productivity of life, and the second is by exploring unknown and dangerous areas of the universe to unravel more of its secrets. He aspires to play a leading role in shaping up the upcoming Robotics and AI revolution, by translating cutting-edge advancements in these fields into scalable, real-world products.

In his free time, Shivam loves playing sports and listening to music. He also enjoys meeting new people to discuss unique experiences and points of view. Feel free to connect with him for a meaningful discussion!

Shivam's LinkedIn

 Praveen VenkateshPraveen Venkatesh

Masters of Science in Robotic Systems Development, School of Computer Science

Highly motivated with an eye for detail, Praveen naturally gravitates towards anything that involves complex systems. As a first-year Master’s student in the Robotic Systems Development program at the Robotics Institute, he is particularly interested in how machines can sense and reason about the world to make informed decisions for achieving a particular goal.

Before joining CMU, Praveen graduated with three gold medals and a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN), India. At IITGN he explored multiple aspects of robotics by being part of various research groups. He has also led several student teams to create campus periodicals, organize speaker conclaves, build mobile applications and enhance the sporting culture at IITGN.

Praveen believes that we are at the beginning of a massive change in how society functions as robots begin to proliferate in everyday life. One day, he hopes to build and commercialize a personal robot butler that can do everyday tasks at home.

Deeply passionate about education, Praveen develops educational content on YouTube and medium in his free time. He wishes to start a new-age school focused on developing one’s intellectual interests in the future.

From learning to speed-solve the Rubik’s cube to becoming an expert paddler (table tennis) with efforts maintained over a decade, Praveen deeply believes in consistency over intensity and everyday self-growth. He is always looking for the next challenge to pique his mind and is currently exploring ways to put together fresh ingredients to make a delicious plate of food! If you want to explore crazy ideas on any topic under the moon do reach out!

Praveen's LinkedIn

Zilin ZhangZilin Zhang

Master's degree, Robotic System Development (MRSD), School of Computer Science

Zilin is currently a first-year Master’s student in the Robotic Systems Development program (MRSD) at the School of Computer Science. Prior to CMU, Zilin received her Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science with a minor in mathematics from the University of Michigan. She also has a dual degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

During her undergraduate years, Zilin realized her enthusiasm for converting academic ideas into solutions to real problems. In University of Michigan, Zilin researched sensing and health systems aimed to improve indoor human positioning and vital signs monitoring, which first stimulated her idea of starting a company in the caregiving and robotic system field. She continued to explore more about the interdisciplinary topics in engineering for a whole system in the MRSD program, realizing the importance of the close support between hardware and software systems to settle down real-life problems. Currently, she is working on research about shared autonomy for caregiving robots at CMU Robotics Institute.
To explore more in business and the industry, Zilin improved her analysis skills through a consulting internship at McKinsey & Company working as a part-time assistant. She sought to shift her thinking mode to understand the industry from different perspectives as a consultant, from business to macro to detailed solutions. She also interned in an emerging startup in the Cloud Native field to gain hands-on engineering experience in the industry.
Apart from studying and working, Zilin loves traveling and playing instruments. She is also interested in taking part in different kinds of outdoor activities like hiking, snowboarding, and climbing. Feel free to reach out if you want to discuss more!

Zilin's LinkedIn