Sep 292015

Last week, a few intrepid Smith MBA students including myself set off for our first ever Smith MBA West Coast trek. It was hard to believe that no-one here from previous classes had ever undertaken such a trek, especially given the tremendous impact that tech innovations are having across the economy. Even if your future career has nothing to do with the new iPhone, there’s no doubt that today, in 2015, the impact of technology—across sectors ranging from from healthcare and education to consumer marketing and HR—is only accelerating.

An unsupervised tour of Google campus in Mountain View, on wheels, before our Googler friend showed up.

An unsupervised tour of Google campus in Mountain View (on wheels!) before our Googler friend showed up.

The over-arching goal for the trip was to get immersed in the heart of the the world’s leading tech innovation engine, San Francisco. The main event was TechCrunch Disrupt, one of the highest profile events for up and coming startups from around the world. With tickets running between $2,000-$3,000, we were also very fortunate enough to take advantage of the student discounted rate at $300. The re-purposed Pier 70 facility was to be the center of the digital world for those 3 days, with the tech media, investors, and industry figures all in attendance. Past winners include Uber and Airbnb, but good luck spotting the next gems from among the 450 booths on exhibition. If nothing else, these events provide strong practice for quickly evaluating and homing in on the most promising outfits from among the crowd vying for attention and validation.

Also, did I mention that Snoop Dogg was on hand to announce the launch of his very own startup? A premium cannabis lifestyle media site dubbed Merry Jane. And the Disrupt winner this year? A cloud-based management system for indoor farming operations. I’m sensing a theme here…

An awesome discussion over drinks with EMBA alumni Peter Hazlehurst, who's done just about everything one can do in Silicon Valley

An awesome discussion over drinks with EMBA alumni Peter Hazlehurst, who’s done just about everything one can do in Silicon Valley

We also had some serious networking planned while out there, including dinners with various Smith alumni in the Bay Area, and tours of Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn through personal contacts within our group. And that’s not even counting the after-parties all three nights after Disrupt…

I really hope this is something that gets carried on to next year, and becomes a tradition in the Smith school. Shane and Shwetha, we’re counting on you!

All in all, it was a great trip, and looking back I’m a little amazed everything we managed to fit into the time we were there. I’m thoroughly exhausted now, and could probably use a nap…


A tour through downtown Facebook



What kind of trip would it be though, if a few of us didn’t get to join the rest of the class in Orlando for a little R&R afterwards?


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