Organizing the Unconference out West
- by Anand Raghavan
Cool things are happening at a fast clip at Wharton | San Francisco this year. We moved to a new campus in January. In April, we organized the first Sustainability and Social Impact Panel, which we hope will one day will beat the Wharton Social Impact Conference in Philadelphia. For the first time this fall, a cohort of 55 full-time MBA students from the Class of 2013 is spending a Semester in San Francisco. Through the Semester in San Francisco, full-timers get the unique opportunity to experience our great campus out here in the Bay Area and to soak in the spirit of entrepreneurship in the valley. To add to that momentum, members from Wharton’s MBA Class of 2014 visited the Bay Area on a startup trek in October.
All of this culminated in a fascinating and inspiring few hours at the first ever Wharton | San Francisco Unconference, put together by the innovative and talented full-timers on campus. The goals were simple—bring like-minded individuals together, put them in a room, have them ask questions about what they want to know and then use the answers to establish sessions where people can discuss those questions. We came up with nine sessions of 45 minutes each. Topics ranged from how to find a technical co-founder and build a great startup team to what are the differences between a B2B and B2C startup.
The Unconference also included sessions about opportunities in emerging markets, trends in online fashion startups, big data opportunities in supply chain and the best opportunities for MBAs in startups, among others. There was a wealth of information presented by many students in these sessions, including an inspiring talk from my Class 37 mate Amilcar Chavarria, co-founder of Bucksprout [in the Venture Initiation Program (VIP) last year], on building a great startup.
Kudos to Vishy Venugopalan, Neha Bhargava, Elaine Chow, W’04, Christine Fok and other second-years from the full-time cohort for putting this together.
Pretty much every full-timer I spoke with at the Unconference wanted to know more about how to start or join a startup and go about finding co-founders. We also had several first-year students who stayed after their startup trek to attend the Unconference. And, not to be left out, a few of us Wharton MBA for Executives students and alumni made it there as well. Besides Amilcar, Vijay Ramani, founder of Social Moolah and Class 37 student, and Parry Bedi, WG’12, and Sami Kaipa, WG’12, co-founders of current VIP startup Social Glimpz, also spoke about their experiences starting companies and raising capital.
Here’s to more of these events and more opportunities to get to know enterprising Wharton students from Philadelphia!