Stanford’s NYC Innovation Program

In 2011, Tregarthen came to Ignite with an idea for a mobile phone app that would allow eating disorder patients to log all the necessary information, and allow, if they wished, access to that information by their clinicians and treatment facilities, as well as providing a platform to communicate with fellow patients for support and information-sharing.

Tregarthen completed Ignite with a conviction to make the app succeed. Recover Record now has 300,000 users, 33% of them people who have told no one that they have an eating disorder. “The app is the first contact they have with any support,” says Tregarthen, 29, adding that Recover Record is monetized, and has become profitable, through licensing to health care facilities.

Jenna Tregarthen used Ignite to launch an eating disorder app

Jenna Tregarthen used Ignite to launch an eating disorder app

The app uses graphs and algorithms to show trends in behaviors – such as having strong urges toward “disordered” behavior between 6 and 8 p.m., for example – and predict when issues may arise. Patients’ clinicians and any other treatment staff, with patients’ permission, can access the detailed records of patients’ lives that are key to successful treatment.

“I came to Ignite with this idea. I had the will and Ignite showed me the way,” Tregarthen says. “I had never heard of the words ‘startup’ and ‘design thinking.’ It was very liberating for me to learn that you don’t have to have all the answers, that you can follow a process of experimentation and failure and learning to get where you want to be.

“If I look at one pivotal moment that fundamentally changed my life, it’s Ignite. It gave me the conviction and the skills to do something that I believed in and to make an impact in the world,” Tregarthen says.


For engineer Lee Redden, Ignite provided tools to push an existing business to the next level. He and a partner had founded Blue River Technology a year before Redden took Ignite at Stanford in 2012. Blue River makes high-tech robotic agricultural machinery, with the primary product a lettuce-thinning implement, provided to farmers on a per-acre service basis, currently in Salinas, California and Yuma, Arizona. LettuceBot uses computer vision and machine learning to determine which lettuce plants should stay and which should go, then takes appropriate action. “What this allows is an increase in yield,” says Redden, 29. “If you have lettuce today in the U.S., there will be about a three per cent chance that we did an operation on it.” Blue River has raised more than $14 million in funding, Redden says.

Ignite gave Redden the ability to communicate with non-engineers, a key skill in developing a technology business, he says. “It gave me a working knowledge of the language of people outside of engineering, people in the business world,” Redden says. “That helped me bridge the gap and have better conversations so that we could structure the business in a more appropriate fashion.”


Ignite is open to graduate students pursuing master’s degrees, MDs, PhDs, or working in postdoctoral programs in non-business fields, as well as to professionals holding bachelor’s or advanced degrees and having some work experience. Anyone with an MBA, a graduate degree in management, or extensive managerial training is ineligible for Ignite. Program cost of $14,500 covers tuition, course materials, program events, and some meals. The New York course will accept up to 50 people, to receive a Stanford Ignite certificate in innovation and entrepreneurship upon completion.

Application to Ignite requires completion of an online form, submission of a resume and two to three short essays, plus two recommendation letters. In the second stage, in-person or video interviews are required.

“We have continued to maintain very strict admissions standards,” Coates says. “This is a very intense program. It’s meant for people that want to get in there and work really hard. We’re really trying to deliver a tremendous value in a condensed period of time.”

Ignite courses draw “at least hundreds” of applications in every location they’re offered, Coates says.

A “handful” of need- and merit-based scholarships will be available for Ignite, Coates adds.

A live online information session will be presented Dec. 3 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.


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