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  • Writer's pictureBaker Institute Team

Baker Institute's hybrid LehighSiliconValley 2022 program proves unforgettable for cohort of 27

Updated: Feb 15, 2022

Lehigh University's premier organization dedicated to entrepreneurial action on campus, the Baker Institute recently celebrated the conclusion of its eleventh LehighSiliconValley program.

During an academic year that felt fixed in uncertainty and change, Lehigh University's Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity & Innovation made certain its mission to immerse students in entrepreneurial action pressed on through its eleventh installation of LehighSiliconValley (LSV) during the 2022 winter term.

As this year's cohort of 27 students prepared for a hybrid program model combining both remote-from-home and in-person sessions in San Francisco, CA - a first for LehighSiliconValley - the Baker Institute team knew the unique plans for their flagship immersion program had promise for an unforgettable experience.

"LSV2022 was perhaps our most successful yet!" said Baker Institute Executive Director, Lisa Getzler "We learned the value of the hybrid model: students got to know and trust each other by diving in head first on day one with an in-person live case at Factory LLC; three full days in the remote environment with guest experts and live cases from around the world; and four days to fully experience the live, in-person experience for which LSV is known."

The hybrid model, which featured 27 guest instructors and experts and 14 companies, proved even more successful than expected, allowing for students to form relationships and build momentum during the program's remote days before joining together in-person ready to jump into a busy schedule.

"This group was committed to excellence, drove the program forward with their curiosity and proactive learning approach, and took advantage of everything LSV2022 had to offer," added Getzler. "We were also incredibly fortunate that everyone involved on the ground in the Bay Area, from students to staff to guest instructors and visiting experts tested negative for Covid upon arrival, allowing us to safely hold our program sessions where masking and social distancing were practiced by all."

From generating marketing strategies for an early-stage social app alongside its founder to driving conversations with innovation experts and entrepreneurs alike, students quickly found themselves not only thinking about entrepreneurship, but living it, too - and that was just the first half of the program. In the four in-person days of sessions that followed, students deepened their understanding and practice of entrepreneurial thinking with longtime LSV guest instructors and experts, Sandy Stelling '91, Alaska Airlines; Tom Gillis '14P '16P '17P, VMware; Paul Martino '95, Bullpen Capital; Ann Lewnes '83, Adobe; and Tim Eades, vArmour.

"In my experience, it is great people that make great products and great products that make great companies," shared LSV guest instructor, Tom Gillis '14P '16P '17P of VMware. "Lehigh Silicon Valley connects highly talented students with the never ending swirl of opportunities in Silicon Valley. I'm really pleased to be part of it and I see nothing but more engagement in the future."

The eight day program actually feels as though it is a 24/7 experience. The days are fully booked with guest instructors helping participants more deeply understand the way the mind of a founder, CEO or investor works as well as professional development experiences with guest experts from larger companies where innovation and entrepreneurial mindset are highly valued.

The cohort stops for a fun photo op before their session with Adam Draper. of Boost VC

Collaboration is constant with students working together in teams to tackle real-time problems presented by startup founders, CEOs and investors through LSV's signature live case model, which challenges students to innovate in real-time in a high stakes environment. With a cohort representing more than a dozen different majors and minors across the University's College of Arts & Sciences, P.C. Rossin College of Engineering & Applied Sciences, and the College of Business, the program's live cases gave students valuable time not only to apply their strengths in solving real-world problems, but also step outside of their comfort zone and grow in areas less familiar, too.

"The live case allows students to test their knowledge with immediate and real feedback from founders, investors and CEOs. This feedback loop is where the real learning occurs as students gain insight far beyond what anyone but the organization's leader can provide," explained Chris Kauzmann, Baker Institute Innovator in Residence and faculty managing director for LehighSiliconValley. "We expect students to gain new knowledge in the program. But what inspires me each year is watching students realize how expansive their life paths can be. They see that as incredible as our guests are, they are just people with unique, but not unreachable paths. Seeing students envision their futures in this way is an unmatched experience for me in the 'classroom'."

From the live cases and fast-paced teamwork to the conversations with experts and every special moment in between, the LehighSiliconValley experience in total makes for a program that students describe as transformational in more ways than one.

"Silicon Valley has disrupted my life goals in the best possible way. Before coming to San Francisco, I never considered thinking of myself as an entrepreneur. I'd never had the chance to entertain that idea, and I don't think I ever would have had someone not encouraged me to read about the program and apply," shared LSV 2022 student Victoria Drzymala '23, Political Science and International Relations. “No one could have prepared me for the whirlwind that was LSV. I found that I was starved for a change of pace, and I eagerly seized the chance to learn from venture capitalists, CEOs, and big-time executives. I don't believe that there's anything that's completely off the cards now and that, regardless of my destination, LSV has given me the confidence to recognize that I have the tools to succeed anywhere I go."

Want to hear more stories from the LehighSiliconValley 2022 cohort of students? Click here to read their reflections!

Victoria Drzymala '23 (front left) with her live case teammates, Nicholas Wilson '22, Victor Cochrane '22, and Bridget Hall '22 during the LSV 2022 kick-off day at Factory LLC in December.

About The Baker Institute & LehighSiliconValley

The Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity & Innovation is Lehigh University's premier organization dedicated to inspiring entrepreneurial thinking, doing, and being across all areas of campus. With over a decade of experience, the Institute powers entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation opportunities for all students who want to make a difference in the world through entrepreneurial action. For 11 years, the Baker Institute has immersed students in the Bay Area startup ecosystem through its flagship winter term program, LehighSiliconValley (LSV).

Meet the 2022 LehighSiliconValley cohort here.

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