Building an enterprise company as a student or first-time founder

As an undergraduate at Stanford with all the hot consumer startups sprouting up around us, my friends and I would always joke that we knew we had become boring computer scientists if we ended up working an enterprise company. To be fair, I was at Stanford when Facebook was growing rapidly, everyone was switching over to Dropbox, and Twitter was just starting to get traction with celebrities. Consumer companies just seemed so much cooler.

Fast forward six years, I’m now a 5th year PhD student at MIT in computer security, focusing on how to practically apply cryptography to enterprise systems that deal with big data. During the school year, I’m on the team of Roughdraft Ventures, focusing on security and enterprise companies, and during the summer, I co-founded and continue to run a summer program with Highland Capital for early stage cybersecurity startups called Cybersecurity Factory, where we help founders penetrate the security enterprise market. I also consult with various companies on their security strategy. Having worked with numerous first-time enterprise founders, of which many were students, I learned a few important lessons on starting an enterprise company.

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Library Drives Entrepreneurship with New 3D Printing Studio


The UConn Library is an enthusiastic partner in the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Consortium’s efforts to foster innovation and economic development by providing a cornerstone of expertise, resources, and spaces to help you transform your ideas.

Our specialized online research tools, which number in the hundreds, are available for each step of the entrepreneurial process – from initial research and development, to gathering data to inform business plans and investor pitches.  Access to thousands of specialized trade journals and databases in numerous fields like computer science, engineering, and medicine are at your fingertips.

An important piece of this immersive experience is UConn’s first publicly accessible 3D Printing Studio in the Homer Babbidge Library. The start to a true MakerSpace, this location will be a focal point in the core of the academic community for developing and prototyping product ideas. You can find more information at

The Learning Commons' iStudios are group study rooms equipped with a large screen computer workstation, a whiteboard, and seating for up to five individuals. JPG

Also, to help you navigate the wealth of resources, we are excited to be conducting a national search for an Entrepreneurship & Innovation Librarian. This person will be a key member of UConn’s immersive entrepreneurial experience through their engagement with students in the Innovation House Learning Communities and all other innovators and inventors on campus. An expert in business research, they will work closely with you to get the most out of tools and resources available.

A great place to start on your journey is our Entrepreneurship Research Guide at There you will find tips to navigate our databases to conduct research on consumer and technology trends and competitors, and develop market intelligence to understand how and whether a new innovation would have a competitive advantage.

Nursing and Engineering Students Collaborate on Healthcare Innovation Projects


Undergraduate students from the School of Nursing and the School of Engineering/MEM Program (Management and Engineering for Manufacturing) have collaborated on several Healthcare Innovation projects which were presented during the SON’s annual Shark Tank competition. The MEM program is a joint collaboration between the School of Business and the School of Engineering. Both the SON , SOB and the SOE are members of the UConn Entrepreneurship and Innovation Consortium. Students collaborated over both the Fall and Spring semesters to prove initial feasibility and a working prototype.

For the past three years, the SON Healthcare Innovation Program has challenged our undergraduate nurses to identify a healthcare problem and a creative solution.  Ideas address a wide variety of healthcare issues such as global spread of disease (ex zika virus) and many improvements to the delivery of hospital based healthcare. In addition to working with the SOE/MEM program, the SON will also collaborate with the Biomedical Engineering Department this year on select projects.

Two of the collaborative teams are shown below.

Nursing 1 resize

Hydralizer Bracelet

Noninvasive monitoring of total body fluid including dehydration and fluid overload in real time



Nursing 2 resize2 Glove

Novel Dispensing Unit eliminating millions of dollars in wasted gloves

UConn IDEA Grant Award Recipients Announced

Congratulations to the 35 UConn undergraduates who have been awarded UConn IDEA Grants in the spring 2016 funding cycle!

22 of the award recipients will be completing individual projects, and 13 will be working on collaborative group projects. The award recipients represent a variety of disciplines, from printmaking to biomedical engineering, horticulture to political science. They will work on launching new ventures; developing art exhibitions, puppet shows, YouTube series, and television pilots; and collaborating with community organizations.

Click here to view the full list of spring 2016 UConn IDEA Grant award recipients.

Special thanks to the faculty and staff that supported student applications to the UConn IDEA Grant and to those who will be mentoring the award recipients as they complete their projects. We would also like to thank the faculty and staff from around the University who served as reviewers.

The UConn IDEA Grant program awards funding to support self-designed projects including artistic endeavors, community service initiatives, traditional research projects, entrepreneurial ventures, and other creative and innovative projects. Undergraduates in all majors at all UConn campuses can apply. Applications are accepted twice per year from individuals and from small groups who plan to work collaboratively on a project.

The next application deadline will be in December 2016.

More information on the UConn IDEA Grant program can be found at

HackUConn Lets Students Create Tech For Smart Cities

HackUConn participants working to create Smart City solutions (Case Polen/ Entrepreneurship and Innovation Society)

The UConn Entrepreneurship and Innovation Society held its first hackathon, HackUConn 2016 Smart Cities, on April 1 and 2. Hackathons are an opportunity for designers, engineers, and other interested individuals to come together and innovate hardware and software solutions to real problems. These have become regular events at institutions known for their innovative nature and this event demonstrates UConn’s support for hackathons and their relevance to learning.

The hackathon equipped me with the skills and confidence to develop my own innovations to tackle the engineering challenges of the future. – Jhomar Fernandez Mayi – UConn ‘17

The event, supported by both the UConn Entrepreneurship and Innovation Consortium and the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, allowed over twenty students to innovate over twenty-four hours by developing solutions to real problems in the topic area of Smart Cities.

Smart Cities are an attempt to integrate multiple information and communication tech solutions in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets, including transportation systems, power plants, waste management, law enforcement and other community services.

HackUConn brought together student participants with industry and academic mentors and judges, along with a variety of resources such as 3D printers and other prototyping materials to aid in the experience. Food and coffee was provided to students, which proved particularly beneficial to students who never left the building for the entirety of the twenty-four hour event. In the early morning hour, some rooms were occupied by teams sitting around a table silently working to develop their product, participants debating over design options, or even some hackers taking a quick nap near their hacking space.

Hack:UConn provided a great opportunity to realize how my formal education can be used in practical application. – Giancarlo Castillo, UConn ‘17


Participants and judges together after the 24 hour event.
Participants and judges together after the 24 hour event.

This event will serve as an example for future hackathons to contribute to growing entrepreneurial and innovative culture at The University of Connecticut. All students from every discipline and university are welcome to attend next time. Keep an eye open for HackUConn 2017 at

At the conclusion of the event, four teams presented the projects they had developed over the past twenty-four hours. One group presented an application to create an on-demand car taxi service similar to Uber, but with the option to Carpool in order to save money and protect the environment. A different team worked to develop a high altitude water collection system to generate electricity without the need for environmentally destructive dams. Another group built a functional traffic simulation program to further study traffic patterns during peak hours in order to implement methods of more balanced use of roads. The last team developed an application to notify nearby medical professionals in the case of an emergency in order to provide quicker emergency response. This could be particularity useful in cities where traffic can lengthen response time while medical professionals may be in the restaurant next door.

VentureWell $25K Student Grant Opportunity – Jan 27th, 2016 Application Deadline

Our E-Team Program gives college students the chance to move new tech ideas out of the lab and classroom and into the marketplace. The three-stage program provides grant funding, experiential workshops, veteran coaching and a potential investment opportunity to help teams manifest their projects’ full commercial potential.

  • Stage 1 provides funding of $5,000 to attend a three-day workshop on how to better articulate the opportunity for the innovation in the marketplace. Remaining funds may be used to support further development of the project/product.
  • Stage 2 provides additional funding of up to $20,000. In a second workshop, teams develop their business model hypotheses and plans to test them. Six monthly coaching sessions follow, helping keep teams moving forward.
  • VentureWell’s Stage 3 program focuses on helping teams develop a venture development plan to prepare for relationships with investors and strategic partners.

We define an “E-Team” as a multidisciplinary group of students, faculty, and mentors working together to bring an invention to market.

For more information and to apply, please go to

Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest

Samsung “Solve for Tomorrow” education contest might be of interest to your constituencies.  It gives schools across the U.S. the opportunity to raise interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects among students by awarding their schools with a share of over $2 million* in technology products.

For more information please visit: