There are several cities in the United States that are considered hotbeds of technology and innovation, including Baltimore, according to a 2012 Fast Company article. But California’s Silicon Valley remains the heavy-duty magnet for young entrepreneurs and technology specialists. For a self-starter like Merrick School of Business students Josh Ziggas and Terry Breschi, the attraction of the valley is irresistible. So, recently they took a little trip out West, to the Startup School.
The Startup School was a free event for college students who are looking to launch a business. The event, co-hosted by Stanford University’s Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students (BASES) and a company called Y Combinator, featured a dozen talks from company founders like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Pinterest’s Ben Silbermann and others. It was an experience that Ziggas and Breschi hoped would never end. If they didn’t have “the bug” before the trip, they certainly have it now.
Ziggas, a junior information systems and technology management major, and Breschi, a senior business administration major, were afforded the opportunity to attend Startup School through the support of the Coalition of UB Entrepreneurs (CUBE Club), plus some funding from the Center for Student Involvement. And what an opportunity it was for these two go-getters.
“For me, it was empowering,” Ziggas said. “The entire experience was one for the record books. I was among the great innovators of our time and met people from other schools also looking to be inspired and be pushed towards taking that giant leap to start up a business.”
In addition to attending the conference, the two took a tour of Google’s headquarters—a modern-day equivalent of Bell Labs in terms of intellectual heft and marketplace savvy. Ziggas, currently the president of CUBE, and Breschi, its vice president, brought back plenty of information and ideas to share with fellow CUBE members.
Ziggas recalled what one of the speakers said during her speech:
“Jessica Livingston, a founding partner of the seed stage venture firm Y Combinator, said determination is resilience plus drive. You find the resilience by resisting the pushback that you get from your idea and the drive is the pushing forward with it.”
“Rejection will happen,” he added. “But if you set goals and measure outcomes, hopefully incidents of rejection will be few and far between. That is something I learned at the Startup School and that I’d like to share with my fellow UB entrepreneurs.”
Ziggas and Breschi are working together at a small company called Suitcha, a custom T-shirt firm that is run by college students. Their products are designed by students enrolled at area schools and express the ideas, trends, and movements of the modern student body.
Is Suitcha the start of something bigger for Ziggas, Breschi and their co-developers? It might be. As they integrate their Startup School experiences into their business processes, and use that quick California trip as the inspiration for other entrepreneurial ventures down the road, the takeaway comes down to one word: Start.