Tech Trekked Experience #BCSTT


“C’mon let’s go! I swear, you kids are like a bunch of goldfish eating all the snacks you see in front of you” -Professor Doyle

After Professor Kane explained to me that one goal of Tech Trek is to change students’ minds about their future, I thought, “There’s no way that ONE class called Tech Trek West will completely change my career path.” I was skeptical to believe that going to Silicon Valley will completely convince me that I am destined to work at some small startup. However, now that I’m back from Tech Trek, I’m COMPLETELY torn about co-concentrating in entrepreneurship or not. Go figure.

What Went Down

So much has happened during my 2019 Tech Trek West experience. As much as I fangirled over the endless amounts of snacks, swag, and aesthetically pleasing offices, I was truly captivated by the startups’ CEO’s and passion, determination, and drive for their company. I have never seen and met so many focused, close, and hardworking people in such a short amount of time – especially now having finally realized the true difficulties, struggles, and unpredictability of running a startup. Prior to the trip, I knew that startups were tough to manage, since 90% of them fail, but I didn’t truly understand what it really entailed until we visited Brava Home. I was shocked to hear John Pleasants, the CEO, tell us that Brava just laid off half of its team because Brava ovens weren’t selling as much as they originally predicted demand to be. As a product, I thought Brava ovens were pretty novel and the food made by the Brava chefs was delicious. The problem was the expensive price and market. Brava could only do so much to reduce its high price since they needed more money to do R&D and marketing. Because of that, I then realized that just because the product, the team, and all the hard work is there, they don’t mean anything if the market conditions and luck are not in favor of it. I have to admit, it was hard to see John struggle a little telling us that he had done the hardest thing in his life by firing 40 people. Nonetheless, this is exactly what made it feel so real and made me sympathize with him.  Despite these tough times, it’s these times of crisis where we see the CEO’s leadership and the startup’s passion and drive shine.

Another aspect that I really admired about the Tech Trek West trip was the entrepreneurial spirit I saw. I loved seeing the stubbornness and determination from CEO startups like Amy or Alex de Simone who wanted to continue to push on with their business, despite the odds stacked against them at the time. I was so impressed when I heard Alex de Simone talk about continuing Avochato when the company had literally no money and just fired one of the 4 core members of the company. Alex had so much fire and passion towards his business that I was actually taken aback by his confidence. He was so fixated on continuing Avochato because he believed in the product. I could tell that he and the team really love what they do. Because of their passion, I I was truly moved as I witnessed this sheer determination and resilience. I’m more inspired to become like Alex and these other CEOs. I want to cultivate and attain that kind of drive or entrepreneurial spirit and incorporate into all of my actions. I strive to become a person who never gives up despite the odds because of my passions, whether if that means working in a big company or working at a startup.

Besides seeing the fire in the CEOs’ eyes, I also really appreciated how honest and willing they were to share their stories and business operations with us. The passion and stories of the startups also really touched my heart too like Wonolo’s. Yong Kim’s immigrant story really shows why he dropped his comfortable, IB banking lifestyle to startup Wonolo and why he loves what he does. In fact, his values definitely contributed to Wonolo’s strong and distinct culture as well as a purpose for why Wonolo exists. Yong’s story really made me want to see Wonolo successful and want to be a part of something so wonderful (I would LOVE to work at Wonolo omg). Then that’s when Christiaan’s words from True Ventures echoed in my head: “Venture relationships last longer than a marriage.” At that moment, I finally understood why VCs invest millions of dollars into startups. Investors assist companies at multiple stages of its life by providing financial resources and advice to aid in the company’s expansion and growth. I realized that I would totally want to invest in Wonolo if I was a venture capitalist. I can see Wonolo being successful and making a big impact in changing the way gig economy works and giving “everyone a chance to excel at their job.”

Lastly, Tech Trek West made me recognize the importance of the BC network since EVERYONE advised to fully take advantage of the BC network and connections. The most important capital is social capital because opportunities open up through the people you know. It blew my mind to see how willing and welcoming the BC alums (especially the ones with prestigious positions) were when it comes to connecting with us BC Tech Trekkies. It’s these kinds of connections that brought nearly all the BC alums to the West Coast and eventually landing jobs here. Similarly, this is the whole reason why we were able to have such an unforgettable spring break. I am so thankful and grateful for all the networking opportunities that Professor Kane, Professor Doyle, Kelsey, and BC provided us to be able to experience something so wonderful. I also want to thank my peers in TTW for all the inspiration, excitement, and teaching me so much. I had so much fun working, hanging, and eating with you all! Who knows, maybe we’ll end up seeing each other or working alongside each other sometime in the future outside of BC!

Reflection

After re-reading my first blog, I can happily say that I achieved my goal of learning more about the tech industry, experiencing incredible moments with my peers, and becoming exposed to something completely new. I found a new interest in entrepreneurship and made awesome friendships in the end. This experience has definitely made me reconsider what I look for in my career down the line. As for what this entails in my future, I can’t say for sure what’s going to happen. Will I end up co-concentrating in entrepreneurship or work in a startup? Who knows. But whatever happens, I know it’s going be good.

On that note, thank you for reading my last blog. And a big thanks to all of you who have made my experience so wonderful and memorable!

6 thoughts on “Tech Trekked Experience #BCSTT

  1. Thanks so much for being an awesome bus buddy and inspirational Tech Trekkie! I love that you mentioned the strength and determination in the founders. The motivation and inspiration for doing something great comes from doing something you love and that’s something I saw in a lot of our visits. Hope you the very best in everything and I’ll see you in Showdown!!

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  2. Great post, Julie! It has been very interesting to see how everything seems to connect. While EVERYONE advised us to take full advantage of the BC network, all of the venture capitalists and startup founders use the analogy of marriage to describe a venture relationship. “comfort zones”, “communication skills”, “startup failure rate”, “innovation” and “churn rate” — the big buzz words of our TTW trip — taught us how to think like an entrepreneur. Thank TechTrek and thank you Julie for kneeling down to hold the BC banner in taking group photos! (Also, thank you for your poker cards! So considerate of you.)

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  3. Julie, its awesome to hear that your Tech Trek experience really shaped your perspective on future studies and work after school. I agree with you about Brava too, how we were really able to see the true struggles of a startup despite having such an innovate product. It was awesome getting to embark on Tech Trek together and discover the Bay Area!

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  4. Julie, really enjoyed this post. In particular, I think your thoughts on Wonolo and Brava were really ‘on point’. Another thing I thought you did a great job at recognizing was the honesty that all the people we met with showed us. I did not expect this level of transparency, from CEOs and Founders especially. I enjoyed getting to know you on this trip!

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  5. Julie, very well thought out post. Incredible delivery. I also would want to work at Wonolo to haha. I completely agree with you on the importance to founder culture in the startup. Brava’s visit really burned an image in my mind. Great we got to see both prosperity and hardship of startups. You’ve made this trip so much fun. Really enjoyed sharing this experience with you!

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  6. So much credit to the two Jerrys and Kelsey, Tech Trek really does change lives! I cannot wait to see where we all go from here, great post as always Julie!

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