Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

New platform to showcase Stanford student innovation… FoSho

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

An incredible new product is ready to launch here on campus and change the way that Stanford innovators are able to promote their work. Stanford Founder’s Showcase, or Stanford FoSho for short, is a platform designed to help Stanford developers gain recognition for their creations, let the rest of us to see the cool stuff that our fellow students are building every day, and provide dynamic, relevant content for life on the Farm. The platform will host student-built mobile apps, websites, and video, and will be available for download in the app store by the end of July.

0174_Stanford App_Fo Sho Tile_R4

Got an app? FoSho is opening its first round of submissions.

As developers know, the app store has become a sea of over 700,000 apps, each competing to get on the “featured” page to drive downloads. Without serious help in the right places, even the best apps can fail to get recognition, slowing their growth and limiting the hype they deserve. With this in mind, we envisioned a platform that was the first stop for any Stanford innovator when trying to get their creations airborne, providing valuable recognition from the Stanford community and useful feedback from the world’s techiest campus. The win-win here is tremendous: developers get to hit the ground running with their innovations and Stanford students get a sneak peek at the next generation of the world’s best apps.

The platform is designed with a built-in feedback tool for users to rate their experience, giving the developers analytics and data which provide much deeper insights than the App Store. Even cooler – users don’t have to update the app to receive and access new content, meaning new stuff goes straight into users’ hands. Once we receive and approve an app, we plug it into the platform and it appears on the user’s device in real-time.

The first two pages of the app will be split into “Around Campus” and “Developer’s Club”. All the apps and mobile sites pertaining directly to campus life will go on “Around Campus”, while other Stanford-built apps and cool stuff will go on the Developer’s Club page. We’re still working on a third page which will change all the time depending on the time of year. Fall quarter will likely include resources for frosh, football, and other autumn-y things for life at Stanford, for example.

But we need to start from somewhere. Step 1 is to scour the area for apps being built right now and launch version one of Stanford FoSho, so we are hereby opening our first round of submissions for the platform. Calling all Stanford developers: we want your apps! You can be a current student, recent grad, or anyone working on an app meant to serve the Stanford student body. Below are instructions on how to submit:

Step 1: Like us on Facebook:

Step 2: Fill out this form:

Step 3: Wait to hear back! You will be hearing from a member of our team in the following days after completing steps 1 and 2.

If you have any other questions, want to network with us, or want to join our team, we’d love to talk. Contact us and learn more via the links below:

Email our team at:

Learn more about us:

Interested in joining our team? Contact the co-founders:

James Mwaura:

Andrew Bellay:


Starbucks by the Numbers

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

“Starbucks: It’s NOT Meyer”

I have a love-hate relationship with Starbucks. On the one hand, I downright refuse to use the term “Tall” to order the establishment’s smallest serving of coffee. Ditto “Grande” (meaning “large” in Italian, according to my friend Google Translate) to order a medium-ish size. Ditto “Venti” for an all-nighter-inducing sized cup. Ok, admittedly the last one does make a smidge more sense than the other two – apparently a “Venti” is, in fact, twenty ounces of fluid. But seriously, for a company that has 20,400 almost identical stores, you’d think they’d adopt a similar level of consistency (if not common sense) when it comes to their sizing practices.

On the other hand, however, they do brew a pretty decent cup of coffee. I also like their little cheese and fruit boxes. And, most importantly, I have learned to love the establishment for their work environment. And by that I mean the environment in which I do MY work. This year’s fall course guide spent about a week and a half gestating in a Starbucks across the street from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and ever since I have had a certain fondness for the institution’s mass-produced ambiance. I can’t tell if its the “handcrafted” wooden tables, good lighting, endless outlets, or simply the fact that it’s not Meyer, but I’ve found that I’m surprisingly productive working in a place with heavy foot-traffic and lots of people hyped-up on mocha frappucinos. As such, I’ve spent a great deal of time in Tressider’s latest installment, enjoying both the salted carmel lattes and the sublime people watching that comes with them. So, without further ado, I present to you Starbucks by the my numbers*: (more…)

Top 5 ways to build your credit score in college (and beyond!)

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Since high school I’ve always had some strange fixation with my credit score. In the effort of winning this ‘game’ (win = high score) I’ve talked with a lot of different people (both students and those in the credit industry) and tried many different strategies. Some definitely worked better than others and a certain few actions were more effective than all others combined. As I got a bit older and my credit score became higher (it’s now right around 800/850) I began to see the benefits of having a high score. For example, I just applied for a premium credit card with awesome perks—as a student—and was instantly approved with a $13,000 credit limit (a new personal best). I’m no longer asked to put down a $600 security deposit when opening a new cell phone line and I could get a super competitive rate on any loans I wanted to take out. While these may not seem like big perks now, when you get close to graduation you’ll thank yourself for paying attention. Because I like you, I’ll condense the past 5 years of my hard work and observation into 5 steps that if taken, will get you a killer credit score.

As most people who read this are in their teens/early twenties, I’ll assume you have no credit score. For those who have already started and have low scores you should work on fixing your score first, although reading this should be beneficial to you as well.

1. Get a credit card no matter what

Prevent this from happening by building your score now!

That’s right, I said it. Keep in mind that credit scores are not meant for the individual, they’re designed as a metric for the bank to see how much of a credit risk you are. No matter what you’ve heard, if you want to build a great credit you need to use credit—the easiest way of which is through credit cards. However, I guarantee that if you’ve applied for a card without any history, you’ve been rejected. Why? Because the bank has no idea if you’re a risk or not. Rather than take the chance, they leave it up to you to prove it to them first.

Solution? Start off with a secured credit card. This works by giving the bank a deposit (I originally started with $300) that they keep for a year (and they don’t pay interest, either). In exchange they’ll give you a full-on credit card with a credit limit of the security deposit. After a year passes and you’ve shown good usage, the card converts to unsecured. Keep in mind long-term these cards are not very useful (5 years after opening my secure card it now has a limit of $1800), however they are crucial for beginning your credit history.

Important: make sure to…  (more…)

BASES 150K Challenge End of Year Finale Tomorrow

Monday, May 21st, 2012

The Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students, known as BASES, will be holding its end of year exhibition and finale tomorrow (Tuesday, May 22nd) at the Arrillaga Alumni Center. This event marks the culmination of the 150K challenge, a funding competition for entrepreneurs and product inventors where 150,000 equity free dollars will be handed out . The finale promises to be interesting and will have a diverse mix of entrepreneurs, investors, students, and others from Silicon Valley. BASES was even just recently featured on TechCrunch for this event, which is a pretty big deal.

Doors open at 1PM and inventors will be showcasing their products to finale attendees. Ex Zappos COO and current venture capitalist Alfred Lin will give the keynote address at 4:30PM with all 150k challenge prize winners to be announced shortly thereafter. Check it out tomorrow and tell us your thoughts!

Update: RSVP for the event here.

StartX Summer 2012

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Image Credit: My Apple iPhone 4 (apologies for the image quality)

I previously wrote about StartX, a startup accelerator program that was created by some fellow Stanford students. It turns out they are now accepting applications for their upcoming class this Summer. If you’re an entrepreneur and attend Stanford or one of your teammates attend Stanford, check them out. They had many applicants for their Spring session and are now opening their Summer session to all those who wish to apply.

Application Details

Application Deadline: April 12th, 2012
Information Session: April 3rd at 7:00pm in Nitery 209
Application Link:


Bridging People and Technology with Design

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Image Credits (all images): Rainmakers Live Photographers Ray Quek and Gareth Yeo

Rainmakers LIVE! are a team of Stanford University students passionate about entrepreneurship and technology. This last tuesday, they held their second live event at AOL headquarters in Palo Alto called “Bridging People and Technology with Design“. It was an event that comprised of a live panel of speakers with various backgrounds specializing in different areas relating to design, discussing everything from user interface to user experience, to how design influences their businesses and what they think of when they think of design.

The panel of speakers were:

  • Garry Tan – Formerly cofounder of Posterous and currently an Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR) at Y-Combinator (a startup accelerator)
  • Kevin Fox – Formerly of Google, FriendFeed, Facebook, and Mozilla
  • Luke Wroblewski – Formerly of eBay and Yahoo! and currently is the cofounder of Bagcheck
  • Jason Putorti – Formerly Lead Designer of and currently co-founder of Votizen
  • Jessica Mah – Cofounder of Indinero


Stanford Startup Accelerator Program and Demo Day

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Image Credit: My Apple iPhone 4 (apologies for the image quality)

On Wednesday, StartX, formerly known as Stanford Student Enterprises (SSE) Labs, a non-profit startup accelerator designed to accelerate the development of Stanford’s top entrepreneurs, held their Demo Day event where startups who participated in the StartX program got to pitch their startups to investors and the general public. StartX began as an incubator-like program out of Stanford and was cofounded by Dan Ha and Cameron Teitelman. Since then, the program has branched out to operate out of AOL’s headquarter in Palo Alto, CA.

The program provides a vast number of mentors and help as well as office space via AOL’s office spaces for startups to work out of. Unlike other incubator programs such as Y-Combinator, TechStars, and others, StartX does not take equity in the companies that are approved for the program. The only requirement is that at least one team member applying must be a Stanford student or alum. I was thoroughly impressed by the set up they had and all of the participants greatly attribute any success they had in participation of the program.


Jack Dorsey on the History of Twitter and Square

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Jack Dorsey Pic
Image Credit: James Ryang

Last Wednesday evening, I attended a talk at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco with Jack Dorsey, co-founder and executive chairman of Twitter and co-founder and CEO of Square. On this day, Jack walked us through his past and the history of how Twitter and Square came about. It was truly a fascinating story.

Cities and What Happens In Them

It all started when Jack was about 8-years old. He grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and always had this unexplainable fascination, perhaps borderline obsession, with cities. He couldn’t explain what it was about them but because of this, Jack would collect maps of all sorts of cities. To him, Manhattan was the holy grail because there were 8 million people there on any given day doing all sorts of things. This meant lots of activities and various things going on inside Manhattan. And he found all of it interesting. At age 14, he would stumble onto programming solely for the purpose of being able to plot dots on a digital map so that he could visualize these cities. At first, the dots didn’t have any real meaning to them. They were just dots he could add to the maps. He just wanted to be able to do it and self-taught himself programming to do just that. However, at the time, his parents had an old police scanner and he found that by listening in, he could hear about all the things currently going on with the ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars. They would often report what was going on, and where these emergency vehicles were located, and where they were headed. Suddenly Jack has this idea to map out the coordinates of these emergency vehicles and color code them to indicate which was an ambulance, which was a fire truck, and which was a police vehicle. Now, he could roughly see where they were and roughly estimate the path and routes they were traveling to get to their intended destination through these moving dots on this digital map.

He would later find out that there was an official name and profession for what he was doing called dispatch. A few years later, when he was older, he landed a job with Dispatch Management Solutions in New York. A company that tracked various activities throughout the city including trains, taxis, couriers, and emergency vehicles. It was much more sophisticated than the dot system he had programmed years before and he felt like he had just landed in heaven. To be able to visualize the pulse of the city and see what was happening was amazing to him. Eventually though, Jack left DMS and decided to relocate to northern California, where the internet was booming and everything web related was happening. He wanted to build his own dispatch system, one that would be web based. Although things didn’t work out as he planned and his dream failed, one thing he did noticed through all this experience was that dispatch gave a pulse of what was happening in the city at any given time, but the one thing gravely missing from all this were the citizens. Where were they and what were they doing? This was the seed that would eventually give birth to Twitter.


The Failure to Prioritize the Arts at Stanford

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Stanford is not a school generally known for its arts programs, and if you ask anyone who has any knowledge of Stanford, they’ll tell you flat-out that there is not much of an arts scene on campus. Arts are certainly not at the forefront of campus culture and not valued as highly as other pursuits.

Stanford Drama put on a highly acclaimed production of Rent in Roble Studio Theater. Since then, that space has been completely shut down by the County, leaving many performing arts departments and groups in even more need of adequate space. Photo from Stanford Drama.

In recent years, the University has made an ostensible push to try to improve the state of the arts on campus. There’s the Arts Initiative, replete with a snazzy brochure. There’s the Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts (SICA), which has, among other endeavors, hosted a number of meetings of student arts leaders to try and brainstorm ways to increase the presence and ubiquity of arts at Stanford. All of these efforts are important and crucial to making headway in the fight to make the arts better. But despite the work of these groups and the University’s claims to the contrary, the University continues to make large-scale decisions that make it very clear that the arts do not have first priority at Stanford.

For those who live in the West Campus boonies and like to work out, the recent news of the Board of Trustee’s approval of a new gym on Roble Field is good news. For those of us who know the story of the old Roble Gym, however, however, the decision is less unilaterally positive.

Roble Gym, which has its own Wikipedia page, is a gorgeous early 20th century building. The Athletic department occupied Roble Gym until the new gym, the Arrillaga Center for Sports and Recreation (ACSR), was built in 2004. The Athletic department moved to ACSR and gave most of their building over to the Drama and Dance departments. There was a huge problem, however: as an old building, Roble Gym has many problems, most notably a failure to comply to more modern fire and other standards. Neither the Athletic department nor the University wanted to, or still wants to, pay the heavy costs to retrofit and upgrade the building–it’s pretty expensive, and in very poor shape. (Take a look at the locker rooms, for example). In the years since the Drama and Dance departments took over the building, Roble Gym has essentially been condemned and parts of the building, including the main theater space, have been completely shut down by the County. For departments already significantly struggling with facilities–one higher level administrator noted, “Many junior high schools have better [drama] facilities than Stanford”–this has made it nearly impossible for any theater on campus, including any student groups that perform, to find space. And the problem extends to all of the arts: musician and Daily columnist Lucas Johnson can tell you about the state of the music facilities on campus.


How Stanford is Redefining Cool

Friday, January 28th, 2011

The $2.8 billion tank top? High-grossing Avatar brought Stanford's "cool cachet" to the silver screen.

Stanford has pretty impressive street cred.

I started to catch on to this when I watched Avatar for the first time.  James Cameron’s carefully-crafted CGI masterpiece may be one of the most meticulously constructed cinematic works of our generation.  Which is why I was so surprised to encounter a truly glaring instance of product placement: Sigourney Weaver‘s avatar wears a bright red Stanford tank top.

It’s easy to write this off as clever marketing (though the University was in no way involved) or simply an homage to Weaver’s alma mater.  But it’s not actually that simple.  Stanford has unquestionable purchasing power: not just as a highly-valued institution, but as a cultural symbol of an almost paradoxical confluence of brainpower and, well, coolness.

In this instance, Stanford is identified with the environmentally-conscious “good scientist,” with a confident and powerful female protagonist who is literally trying to save her world.  To those familiar with the Farm today, these are certainly resonant themes on campus which validate our claim to  “coolness.”

But Avatar is only the tip of the iceberg….  (Get it?  James Cameron directed Titanic….)

The Ubiquitous Stanford T-Shirt:

Just like Weezer, we're doin' things our own way and never giving up.

Primed by the Avatar incident, suddenly I was seeing Stanford T-shirts everywhere.  This is almost no surprise, as few universities have a T-shirt design as consistent and uniquely identifiable as ours.  But the numbers are staggering: there are 828,000 Google hits for “Stanford T-shirt” and only 269,000 for Harvard and 694,000 for Princeton.  Google doesn’t lie.

The cultural icon: The Blues Brothers shows how the Stanford T-shirt's cool power spans generations.

The unifying theme I noticed was the context in which the shirts appeared: Stanford T-shirt wearers are cool.  In the case of Sigourney Weaver, it’s a badass scientist working with state-of-the-art technology to revolutionize the way we interact with the world.  In The Blues Brothers, Mr. Stanford Shirt and his fellow concert attendees are, by and large, a bunch of young, fun-loving twenty-somethings rocking out for charity.  (Dance Marathon, anyone?)  The presence of the Stanford T-shirt in Weezer’s “Troublemaker” music video is yet another perfect distillation of Stanford’s pop culture power.  In the video, Weezer and their fans seek to break numerous world records, pushing the boundaries of the possible and having a blast while doing it – a parallel to Stanford’s prominence as a research institution.  On a more obvious level, the lyrics of “Troublemaker” can be seen as an analogy to the Stanford entrepreneurial attitude.  As the bold West Coast foil to the traditionally-grounded Ivies, we are indeed “doin’ things [our] own way and never giving up.”  You’re right, Rivers Cuomo.  “There isn’t anybody else exactly quite like [Stanford].”


Crash Course: VEVO

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

An odd mix, but Vevo encompasses them all

What do Iron Maiden, Rick Astley, Eminem, Justin Bieber, Marilyn Manson, Sublime, Shania Twain, Limp Bizkit, and Abba have in common?

Vevo channels.

Are you surprised?   Perhaps on the basis of the wide variety of musical genres represented by these artists, yes.  However, with regard to current trends in music consumption, online and elsewhere, Vevo makes perfect sense – which is why it’s taking over how America receives its music.

Vevo to the rescue?

According to Credit Suisse analysts, YouTube only makes 0.4 cents per video view.  This garners a measly $240.9 a year for a venture whose bandwidth, licensing, and operation costs will run upwards of $700 million.  In other words, “Google will lose $470.6 million on YouTube, for which it paid $1.76 billion in 2006.”

Vevo's "world premiere" of the Telephone music video changed the way we perceive online music promotion.

Vevo may provide the solution to Google’s online video woes.  Launched on December 8, 2009, with the slogan “Music Evolution Revolution!,” Vevo overcame MySpace Music as #1 music site in the US within its first month.  The company represents a collaboration between Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Abu Dhabi Media.  Vevo has domain over music videos from three of the “big four” major record labels: Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and EMI.  (Warner partnered with MTV Networks.)

Today, approximately 23,000 videos are available on Vevo.  Vevo’s near dominance of the major music labels is allowing it to approach monopoly status.  According to Wired Magazine, “there could soon be no other game in town.”

How does this help Google?  Well, Google and VEVO share the advertising revenue, and the institution of Vevo ended Google’s licensing difficulties with Universal Music Group.  “The purpose behind Vevo is to sell advertising at higher rates than YouTube does now.”

Changing music as we know it

According to Wired, Vevo “could save the music business.”  Mashable’s top 5 predictions for the music industry in 2011 suggest the following:

Now, we’re not saying Vevo has single-handedly sparked the renaissance of the music video, but it has helped give the format a kick in the you-know-what.”


Let the Search for the Summer Job Commence!

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

It may only be January, but already the pressure is on to find those resume-boosting summer job opportunities. These past two weeks, the focus was all on consulting and investment banking internships as the Career Development Center played host to reps from Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Bain and Co., McKinsey, and the Boston Consulting Group. But with resume deadlines for these positions past, this week appears to be centralizing on more service-minded internships, at least judging by the mighty influx of emails on the subject flooding the dorm chat lists.
So if you want to volunteer abroad, work with urban youth, or cure all diseases known to man while simultaneously kissing babies, then keep your eyes peeled over the next few days as these summer volunteer opportunities pop up, including, but by no means limited to:

  • Be A Good Doctor – for all those eager premeds looking to lend a helping hand and gain some insight into the field of medicine and healthcare both here and abroad
  • Volunteers in Latin America (VILA) – for those interested in promoting human rights and working with children in Quito, Ecuador
  • Plus a multitude of other opportunities or applications for individual service fellowships on the HAAS Center website


Oh, and on a somewhat related note, for all you engineers out there, don’t forget to stop by the Opportunity Job Fair this Saturday, January 30 at the Alumni Center (10:30 am – 4:00 pm) for a look at some cool summer jobs and internships in your field.

Stanford Trying to Sell $1B in Assets

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

While browsing HuffingtonPost this morning in an attempt to put off being productive, I saw a picture of the main quad; after doing a double take, I read the headline: Stanford U. Looking to Sell $1 Billion in Assets.
(logo from Stanford Management Company, the company responsible for much of the school’s assets )
Reuters reports that our school is looking to shed another billion dollars worth of stuff. The school is apparently “weighing offers” on any of its illiquid assets, meaning that it is considering getting rid of any of the parts of the endowment that are not cold, hard cash–including ‘private equity investments’ and ‘timberlands’ (not the shoe or the music producer, but, I believe, forests). Since I have limited knowledge of the school’s detailed financial processes and limited knowledge of general finance, I have no way of knowing whether or not this is a good move. Future or current investment bankers of Stanford–I am counting on you to weigh in here.
Regardless, this development proves that the campus clean up was the only fire sale happening on campus.

Are Oil Prices Rigged?

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Presented in TIME Magazine under the title Are Oil Prices Rigged?, the controversial Officer-Hayes Hypothesis claims that oil producers have artificially boosted prices by speculating in the oil futures market. It relies on the fact that the futures market is smaller than the physical oil market, so it is in an oil supplier’s interest to boost prices in the smaller, price-setting market.
In light of the realization that one firm did, in fact, control 11% of the oil futures market, Officer-Hayes has proved plausible.
Ari J. Officer studies financial mathematics Garrett J. Hayes studies materials science and engineering at Stanford.

Alyssa Rapp, Founder and CEO of Bottlenotes

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

MP3 File| Subscribe via iTunes | Add to
Alyssa Rapp is the Founder and CEO of Bottlenotes, an online wine retail business that helps individuals discover and learn about wine. Alyssa started the company while at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she headed the school’s 500-person wine club. In this interview, Alyssa gives key insights on starting and running a hybrid online retail business, talks about her personal and entrepreneurial story for Bottlenotes, and gives leads to the most amazing wine regions in the world. Her goal for Bottlenotes, she says, is to create the “Pandora of wine”.
Alyssa earned a B.A. in Political Science and the History of Art from Yale University in 2000 and an M.B.A. from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business in 2005. In between her first and second years in business school, she spearheaded the sales and marketing efforts at RO Imports, an importer of boutique New Zealand wines in New York.
Thanks to Julio, iinnovate emeritus, and Roger for contributing to this interview.
– Min Liu of iinnovate