Carnegie Mellon University

Swartz Fellows

October 22, 2018

Five MBA Students Join 2018-2019 Class of Swartz Fellows

On October 12, Carnegie Mellon University graduate students joined the James R. Swartz Entrepreneurial Fellows program, an initiative that fosters the entrepreneurial careers of technology-focused students.

“I am excited to work with my fellow entrepreneurs to further develop their ideas,” MBA student Asha Banks said. “I look forward to contributing to events and exchanges that support entrepreneurial norms within CMU when we approach problem-solving within different industries.”

Banks is one of five Tepper MBA students in this year’s class of Swartz Fellows. She started her MBA with a business idea in mind, and immediately sought out opportunities with the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship. “We are in the unique position as a cohort to help shape the tone of innovative collaboration within the Tepper Quad and, more specifically, within the beautiful space dedicated to the Swartz Center,” she said. 

Along with Banks, the 2018-2019 Swartz Fellows include first-year MBA students Brian Porter, Shana Pradeep, Lisha Prakash, and Qinxian (Summer) Xia.

“Some of the first people I reached out to within CMU were Swartz Fellows of past years,” Porter said. “They were excited to hear about the goals of others and eager to relay information about resources or individuals that might be of service.  From these early interactions and from meetings and conversations that followed, I recognized that the Swartz Fellows were a group that I want to be associated with at CMU if I could.”

Porter has developed a tool called Alpha State that analyzes behavioral data to help users identify actions that have significant impact on their wellness. “My goal as a Swartz Fellow is to collaborate with the vibrant ecosystem of other fellows in order to build products that tap into the potential of data to drive meaningful, positive, and scalable change to the world,” he said.

Xia also hopes to develop a tool to improve lives. “Before I came to Tepper, I witnessed close friends struggle with severe illnesses such as cancer. Their painful treatment experiences motivated me to help patients who face a similarly desperate situation,” she said. “I want to build a patient care platform that can link patients and let them support each other, and which incorporates gamification to make the painful process a bit fun. 

The Swartz Fellows program includes coaching and mentorship opportunities with CMU faculty, staff, and alumni with entrepreneurial experience, as well as with business leaders, investors, and executives. “With access to mentorship and resources available through the Swartz Fellowship, I will be able to iterate on my ideas quickly and seek feedback from customers and industry leaders,” Prakash said. “Being in the Swartz community will help me work through common problems faced by entrepreneurs and learn from their past experiences.”

As part of the program, Swartz Fellows also have the opportunity to complete a summer internship with a startup in the Bay Area, and may also participate in several networking trips outside of Pittsburgh. “I hope to expand my network of entrepreneurial colleagues and mentors so I can better support women who are starting and growing their own businesses,” Pradeep said. “I want to help set up women-led startups for success — when they're just getting off the ground and when they’re in high growth — and I knew that working closely with a cohort and network of entrepreneurs as a Swartz Fellow would help kickstart my new journey.”

The 2018-2019 Swartz Fellows also includes students from across the Carnegie Mellon campus:

  • Kunal Bhuwalka, School of Computer Science.
  • Jorge Anton Garcia, School of Computer Science.
  • Kwaku Jyamfi, College of Engineering.
  • Ema Karavdic, College of Fine Arts.
  • Saurabh Misra, College of Engineering.
  • Yool Park, Integrated Innovation Institute.
  • Vaibav Viswanathan, School of Computer Science.

The Swartz Fellows program is supported by Jim Swartz (MSIA 1966), Founding Partner of Accel Partners, a venture capital firm in the Bay Area.