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Wharton MBA Candidate Reflects On Entrepreneur Summit

As an engineer by training and profession, my decision to attend this business school certainly puzzled some of my friends and colleagues. But I am constantly reminded of the dynamic, talented, and diverse set of people drawn to Wharton, and what a fantastic opportunity it is to study here.

The Wharton Entrepreneur Summit in San Francisco just a few weeks ago was a case in point. My friend Shawn Xu and I organized the event, and it went even better than we expected, so I’d like to share some of my ideas and insights about the experience.

Although most people associate Wharton with the world of finance, I chose it for its increasingly impressive track record producing successful — and often visionary — entrepreneurs. In fact, Wharton’s San Francisco campus is a testament to its commitment to keeping its finger on the pulse of the most promising and exciting trends and developments in business.

Its bicoastal footprint doubles the reach and scope of Wharton’s network, and also signals that the institution is not bound by staid thinking about what a university is, how it should act, and what it should aspire to become. On a more granular level, this expansion has allowed Wharton to develop additional subject-matter expertise in areas such as tech, healthcare, and data analytics.

WHARTON SAN FRANCISCO HOSTS 

Students talking to Casey Winters after moderating the growth panel. Jerry Lu photo

The entrepreneur-oriented conference took place in New York City last year and, seeing the exciting things taking place in The Bay, Shawn and I began contemplating moving the conference to San Francisco.

We had some concerns about moving it away from New York because last year’s event was so well attended, but in the end, we elected to take this bold step and committed ourselves to rounding up a group of excellent speakers whose presence would entice people on the East Coast to fly out to California.

Leveraging our connections, we were fortunate enough to secure the Google San Francisco office as our venue. (Let me give an enthusiastic “thank you!” here to both Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Google CFO Ruth Porat, both of whom are Wharton alumni.)

Our next major decision was whether to open the event to business schools from across the country. Business school students are often siloed when it comes to interfacing with other like-minded individuals. There is so much talent across the country that we decided to use the conference to bring the community of tech-focused MBA students together to share and learn from each other, with the hope that maybe two people will form a friendship or professional partnership and have our conference to thank!

47% OF ATTENDEES WERE FEMALE; SPLIT NEARLY EVENLY BETWEEN 1ST-, 2ND-YEARS

In order to promote our event, Shawn and I reached out to the entrepreneurship clubs, venture capital clubs, and various other student organizations at more than 20 business schools across the country. We were limited in terms of the number of attendees we could accept due to venue capacity constraints, but we had over 250 applications.

Having too much demand and figuring out what to do from there is not a bad problem to have! In the end, 150 students from 16 business schools attended. And, a special shout-out to INSEAD, which sent students from Singapore to the event!

The demographics of the group included some interesting stats:

  • 53% of attendees were male, and 47% female
  • 44% were first-years, 47% were second-years, and 9% other
  • 27% of attendees had technical backgrounds
  • 43% were active founders