Baker Institute Team
"I think that my self-discovery is just as valuable."
Andy Weng '19 | Software Engineering
Major | Computer Science and Business
Minor | Entrepreneurship
Hometown | Swiftwater, PA
I have been hearing about LehighSiliconValley for years from friends that have gone on the trip. They raved on and on about it, saying how I “had to go” and how it was “life-changing.” Naturally, I had some high expectations about the program. I applied to LSV mainly to learn more about the unique ecosystem of Silicon Valley. There’s nowhere in the world quite like it, as I’ve discovered throughout my trip. It’s a place of ambition, hope, dreams, and oftentimes, failure. The anticipation I had for this trip led to me coming in fully expecting a life-changing experience. As a note, this is a very bad expectation to have, mostly because chances are: your life isn’t going to change from a nine-day school field trip to the west coast.
That’s why I’m proud to say LSV has delivered above and beyond my expectations. I can say with complete confidence that LSV has been a transformative experience for me. I no longer want anything to do with entrepreneurship.
Yes, you read that right. I arrived to this program wanting to be a founder, and now I no longer do. I had participated in LaunchBayC in the past, a startup incubator held on Lehigh University’s Mountaintop campus during the summer. My co-founder and I founded a startup called Ouma, which specialized in making smart pillows that could massage you to sleep. We took first place in the program showcase, recognizing us for our work. We had it figured out. We even made a 5-year roadmap: get an industry job to gain experience for a few years, then head to China together to launch a tech startup. Making a startup was easy, and we just needed to try our best.
These past few days, I have had the opportunity to interact with a variety of founders and entrepreneurs. They were at different steps along their journey, like Tom Gillis, who had successfully made an exit from acquisition. However, something that they all shared was the emphasis on the amount of hard work and pure grit they needed throughout their journey. They had to endure things like living in SF on $700 a month and facing criticism from all angles for not days, weeks, or months, but years before finding success. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of mental fortitude and self-belief they had to have to withstand that pressure. Hearing their raw, unedited experiences made me realize that as the single person on earth who knows me the best, I would not be able to survive as an entrepreneur. Therefore, I have made the decision to let the flag-planters plant their flags, and become the best road builder I can.
However, I think that my self-discovery is just as valuable as becoming inspired or galvanized by the speaker’s incredible stories. Coming to the realization in these early stages has saved me potentially years of wasted effort. Not everyone is meant to be the flag planters of tomorrow, but everyone can contribute in their own unique way. I can walk away from this experience grateful, and look forward to the incredible experiences I’m sure we’ll have in the next few days.