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Texas A&M University participated in the first Silicon Valley Bank Trek, which strives to challenge the next generation of innovators to create a unique learning opportunity with tech industry leaders.

Over a three-day trek, students from nine universities traveled from Silicon Valley to San Francisco, including two students from Texas A&M. Texas A&M’s two delegates are Sarah Knop, a junior finance and business honors double major, and Wesley Vance, a senior computer science major.

On the trek, 18 undergraduate and graduate students visited locations that represent innovation in Southern California, such as Stanford’s d.school, StartX, the offices of Andreessen Horowitz, BIRST and Mattermark, co-working facility WeWork Golden Gate and Silicon Valley Bank’s offices on Sand Hill Road.
Students were led by Trek Guides, a “who’s who” of influential investors and entrepreneurs in the tech industry, including Ben Horowitz, Jason Mendelson and Danielle Morrill, and the members of the Silicon Valley Bank team. These guides provided first-hand advice on subjects from getting started in the tech industry to best practices on pitching your idea to investors to bouncing back after failure.

In addition to receiving knowledge and advice, the students were able to form valuable relationships with other enterprising students on the Trek and the top-level entrepreneurs and investors. Knop says, “I am fully confident that these relationships, along with the wisdom and knowledge gained while in the Valley, will prove instrumental as I progress throughout my career as an entrepreneur.”

Knop serves as a student ambassador on the Startup Aggieland Seed Fund Committee, which evaluates startup company profiles and pitches to determine funds for expansion and development. Her experience on the Trek taught her this: “Entrepreneurs, especially in technology, must exhibit the ability to observe, analyze, improve, and iterate in a dynamic environment to identify opportunities, execute strategies, and capitalize on their success.”

The event was designed to inspire entrepreneurship in up-and-coming students, and the student innovators were challenged to make improvements on big world problems. “This was the beauty of the trek, raising the bar of what we think we can accomplish,” Vance said. “Whatever problem you want to solve, it’s not out of reach, it’s just a matter of devoting yourself to do it.”

Vance has participated in programs through the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, including 3 Day Startup, and has developed a small business renting GoPro action cameras online.
The additional 16 participating students represented Cornell University, Harvard University, Ohio State University, University of California – Berkeley, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and The Wharton School.

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,600 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.