Guest Blog by ELP Student Divyansh Sharma – Computer Science – College of Engineering – Class of 2020
My name is Divyansh Sharma. I am a sophomore at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor majoring in Computer Science. I recently visited San Francisco to attend TechCrunch Disrupt 2017, the largest entrepreneurship and innovation-oriented conference organized in the Bay Area. I was fortunate to be supported by the University of Michigan Entrepreneurship Leadership Program (ELP) to attend the conference. Furthermore, I also had the wonderful opportunity to visit eShares, a rapidly growing startup dominating the field of cap-table management. I have entailed my experience in this blog post.
TechCrunch Disrupt had an atmosphere that overwhelmed and inspired me. The conference was a three-day extravaganza featuring some of the most disruptive startups and change-making technical personalities in the ecosystem. I was able to interact with the founders of an eclectic range of startups with diverse motifs. I learned to think broadly – understanding the concepts of their innovations and their motivation to market their products. In addition, I visited the booths of novel technologies and technical experts, which led to receiving instrumental advice on my career, the future of entrepreneurship, gender stereotypes in technology and possible involvement with venture capital. I also delved deeply to understand virtual reality, cryptocurrency and the growing concept of shared economy.
I watched the presentations of Silicon Valley influencers like Sam Altman, Sebastian Thrun, Andrew NG,and Naval Ravikant. I intently listened to one of my favorite basketball players, Kevin Durant, talk about his investment strategy when it comes to venture capital. I also met with Zach Wood, screen-name Jared, from the famous Silicon Valley TV Show.
One of the best sessions of the conference included a live Startup Battlefield Competition, which was extremely competitive. Past winners of this competition include unicorn startups like Dropbox, Airbnb, among others. It was rather enthralling for me to witness the six shortlisted startups pitch their idea to a panel of judges in order to compete for a reward of 50,000 USD and mass-media attention. The winning startup was called Pi and had developed a product which could charge about five or six devices wirelessly and simultaneously with high efficiency.
I interacted with countless startups. One startup that left a strong impression on me is eShares. eShares is an online cap-table management platform headquartered in San Francisco, California. The company was actually founded by a University of Michigan alumni, Mr. Henry Ward. The Head of Sales at eShares, Mr. Tom Matta, was extremely kind and gave me an opportunity to visit the office and interact with him. I spoke to him at length about innovation in their accelerating fin-tech company, vision for the future and about how I could possibly get involved with their mission.
I am grateful to Mr Matta of eShares for his time and for providing me with an opportunity to learn. I also express my sincere gratitude to the Centre for Entrepreneurship for supporting me in my endeavour to attend TechCrunch Disrupt 2017.