Our Experience at Columbia-Harvard-MIT Summer 2020 Bootcampđź•ş

This week we at Kama participated in a unique virtual program for Columbia, Harvard, and MIT entrepreneurs. The program, called “Summer 2020 Virtual Bootcamp,” was facilitated by Columbia’s startup accelerator called Almaworks, as well as Harvard Undergraduate Capital Partners.

Throughout this week, speakers ranging across the spectrum of entrepreneurship graciously shared their expertise and insights through key lectures, mentorship sessions, and office hours.

We were also able to network with bright students from Columbia, Harvard, and MIT, getting to know their different backgrounds and exciting ventures.

Since our experience with the speakers was invaluable, we'd love to spotlight them below!

Raza Shaikh from Launchpad Venture Group

An active angel investor in early-stage companies, Raza Shaikh has been investing with Launchpad since 2016. Raza co-founded NorthBay, which is one of the largest independent Amazon AWS partners helping large enterprises with their transition to the cloud and the new world of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. In the past, Raza was part of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard building a large-scale science platform for small molecule synthesis and high-throughput screening.

Daniel Ahmadizadeh from PersistIQ

Daniel is an entrepreneur, mentor at Almaworks, and occasional advisor to Kama. Daniel has founded multiple companies, with his latest endeavor being PersistIQ, an email automation platform, as well as QuarantineTogether, a social venture founded in light of COVID-19 that matches people for socialization.

Daniel has great insights on being an entrepreneur in both the practical and mindset aspects. He shared with us some of his experience starting companies, and provided great advice on how to grow ventures from an idea to a full-blown company.

Kat Manalac from YCombinator

Kat is a partner at YCombinator, one of the largest startup accelerators in the world. In her session, Kat talked about the process of launching a product, from the early, “Silent Launch”, through the “Friends and Family," “Online Communities," “Pre-order”, and "Official Launch" phases. She also highlighted the importance of building a community around the product.

She provided us with great insights, such as of the importance of the Team, and the importance of outreach.

Shaun Stewart from New Lab

Shaun Stewart is the CEO of New Lab, a collaborative workspace in Brooklyn that supports over 100 startups and entrepreneurs, with a total valuation of $1.7B across the companies. Shaun Stewart is accelerating New Lab’s growth as it supports companies leading the most cutting-edge innovations in frontier technologies, from robotics to AI to AgTech. In the past, Shaun was the Chief Business Development Officer at Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous vehicle company based out of Google X in Mountain View. Prior to that, he spent 14 years in the travel industry including work at Airbnb (2014-2016), Jetsetter (2010-2014) and Expedia (2002-2010).

Michael Seibel from YCombinator

Michael is the co-founder of Twitch, a company that was bought by Amazon for almost $1 billion dollars in 2014. In 2013, he became a partner at YCombinator, one of the biggest startup accelerators in the world, and since 2016, has acts as its CEO.

Michael spoke about the part that accelerators take in a startup’s progress - its advantages and disadvantages, as well as its functionality.

Tomer Diari from Bessemer Venture Partners

Tomer is a Vice President based in Silicon Valley, where he focuses primarily on cybersecurity, big data and deep tech opportunities. Before joining Bessemer’s investment team in 2016, Tomer served as an officer in the Israel Defense Force’s (IDF) top intelligence unit for six years. Tomer later shifted his attention to R&D and worked as a Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) engineer at Allot Communications.

At the talk, Tomer discussed business modeling, and the different aspects of the business viability of a startup.

Amit Harel from Catalyst/Deloitte

Amit is Deloitte Catalyst Co-Founder in Israel. He connects the Israeli high-tech ecosystem with Deloitte’s global clients. Amit has vast experience in the fields of technology innovation and disruption. Prior to Deloitte, Amit was a member of a cyber-security startup that was acquired in 2013. More recently, Amit has led innovation strategy projects for a variety of multinational organizations. Today, Amit works closely with top ecosystem stakeholders, entrepreneurs, and founders in the Israeli ecosystem and is an active mentor and advisor for a variety of accelerator programs.

Ali Partovi from Neo

Ali is an entrepreneur and an investor. He’s currently running Neo, a mentorship community and VC fund that brings together tech veterans to invest in the diverse leaders of tomorrow. Ali is an early investor in Airbnb, Dropbox, Facebook, & Uber. Ali grew up in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war, attended Harvard, and sold his first startup, LinkExchange, in 1998. He's passionate about sustainable food and loves climbing, guitar, puzzles, and family.

Ali gave us great insights from his experience as an entrepreneur. “Don’t avoid risk, steer towards it,” and “Spectacular success/failure is WAY BETTER than a small success/failure” are only some of his mantras. I was personally amazed by some of his amazing advice on how to run a startup, and we at Kama will implement some of his insights into our operations.

Vincent Ponzo from the AWS Startups Team

Vince supports, mentors and advises startups launching from within the world’s top universities, all through AWS (Amazon Web Services) startups support system. Prior to AWS, he was the Managing Director of the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center at Columbia Business School, where he coached and advised hundreds of student and alumni entrepreneurs annually, as well as overseeing the multi-million dollar Lang Investment Fund. Before that, he held executive level operational roles at education startup General Assembly (exit to Adecco), mobile adtech company Kargo, and enterprise SaaS startup SelectMinds (exit to Oracle).

Vincent talked about the support system that AWS provides to young startups that are founded by students and alumni of top universities in the US, and we at Kama look forward to work with them in the future.

We are grateful for the organizers of the program as well as the amazing speakers. I’m constantly learning from experts, something that’s crucial for progress, especially when working on young startups. We look forward to our launch and upcoming objectives and we’re excited to be able to share them all with you. So keep in check of our blog and Instagram @kama_app!

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