StartX launches student-centered initiative

April 11, 2014, 4:05 a.m.
Courtesy of Alexa Lee
Courtesy of Alexa Lee

StartX, the Stanford-affiliated startup incubator, will launch a new Stanford student-specific program at the organization’s new Hanover Street facilities today.

The experimental initiative, titled OpenX, will run until June 4 of this year and will seek to extend certain aspects of StartX programming to the general Stanford community.

Leona Teixeira, who runs StartX’s operations, explained that the initiative is the culmination of a long period of deliberation.

“OpenX is an initiative that we have been thinking about for a long time,” she said, framing the effort as an opportunity for StartX to engage with Stanford students, alumni and faculty in a new way.

“The genesis of this really is with our new StartX headquarters, we’ve really designed our space to be optimized around community, the ability to collaborate, to have a whole bunch of different kinds of entrepreneurs to be in one space,” she added.

Alexa Lee ’95, head of public relations at StartX, explained that StartX wanted to find more ways to engage the alumni community with those early-stage founders or students.

“This gives them a chance to do activities on their own as well as talk to Stanford students, people who are thinking of starting a company, people who may traditionally become founders,” Lee said. “It’s a way of combining StartX founders with current students.”

Andrew Scheuermann Ph.D. ’16, head of campus relations at StartX, elaborated on one of the more unique features of the initiative, the new access that members of the Stanford community will have to StartX facilities and resources.

“The drop-in hours are another library in another sense, where students share and do work, and that’s why we’re making it another public space,” Scheuermann said. “The entrepreneurship library is a place where people can come and hang out and do work.”

Addressing the exact purpose of OpenX, Teixeira explained that the initiative will give the general public something akin to a limited office preview, where they will get exposure to elements of StartX’s accelerator program.

“What we will be doing is host a series of workshops for Stanford students, digest the information we’ve got from 11 cohorts of StartX and synthesize that information into a digestible form for the Stanford community,” Teixeira said.

This, according to Teixeira, should also allow students who would not traditionally be involved with entrepreneurship and StartX to get engaged, one of the main goals of OpenX.

“We are also working hard in engaging what we call ‘non-networked’ students,” Teixeira said. “There are a lot of students, for example, in the sciences and the humanities, who are doing really innovative things but don’t think of themselves as entrepreneurs.”

“We have an ongoing effort to reach out to the movers and shakers in those areas,” Lee said, explaining that StartX aimed to draw even more people out of the woodwork to think of entrepreneurship as an end goal.

Lee anticipated large numbers of students to be heavily involved with the new program.

“At our event on Friday, for example, we have [signed up] at least 400 students coming,” Lee said. “I think that a lot of people that are coming to the party will have applied to StartX – we have a record-breaking number of applications, that’s up from last year.”

She emphasized that the program may itself be just a precursor of broader efforts.

“We don’t consider to this to be our grand unveiling or anything,” Lee said. “People who come to the event will have limited access since we are still working on the space. We’re still getting there.”

Contact Nitish Kulkarni at nitishk2 ‘at’ stanford ‘dot’ edu.

Nitish Kulkarni '16 is a senior majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He writes about technology and breaking news, and runs online content sections. Email him at nitishk2 'at'

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