ASES rebrands for global focus

Sept. 21, 2021, 9:55 p.m.

The Asia-Pacific Society for Entrepreneurial Students (ASES), one of the largest student entrepreneurship groups at Stanford, formally rebranded as “Affiliated Stanford Entrepreneurial Students – Global” over the summer to expand its mission and structure to include a renewed focus on global entrepreneurship. The organization is now working to enhance the global footprint of its programming, according to co-president Enya Lu ’23.

“Our mission is to connect university students with entrepreneurs and industry leaders around the world, [no longer] just in the Asia-Pacific region,” Lu said.

ASES is a campus organization that hosts programs for students to learn about entrepreneurship and venture capital (VC), while providing opportunities to connect with industry practitioners in Silicon Valley and beyond. ASES Global now acts as the parent organization for ASES, which currently has chapters all over the world — including at the Indian Institutes of Technology and in Manila, Hangzhou, Moscow and Sydney —  according to Lu. In recent years, ASES has developed connections in other regions of the globe, such as Europe and Canada.

The organization is currently planning in-person programming for the fall quarter for all programs, according to co-president Jessica Yan ’23. Fall plans for their global rebranding strategy include contacting new partners in regions such as Africa and Latin America –– new markets that are becoming more attractive to students and investors but are often overlooked, Lu said. 

“In terms of the future [and] building relationships, what we want to do is look for people here at Stanford who are interested in those markets and empower them with ASES resources for them to reach out and build their own connections and [expand] our network,” Lu said, emphasizing the organization’s aim to support entrepreneurship at all levels, globally.

Cultivating diversity in perspectives, membership and activities was another driving factor behind the organization’s rebranding. 

“Accessibility and inclusivity are our North Stars,” recruitment co-directors Louise Zeng ’23 and Anwesha Mukherjee ’24 wrote in an email to The Daily. 

With family and community as two core tenets of the ASES mission, the organization seeks not only to connect with global entrepreneurial opportunities but also to welcome a diverse and supportive membership, Zeng and Mukherjee wrote.

Co-directors of ASES’ breakthrough program Arshia Mehta ’24 and Melanie Zhou ’24, who was previously a member of The Daily’s staff, echoed that the rebranding points to the importance of fostering an inclusive and welcoming organization, just as they experienced upon joining. 

“The ASES rebrand to a more global focus commits to that feeling of community that should be accessible to all students at Stanford,” they wrote.

In the years leading up to the organization’s rebranding, ASES’ programming has become increasingly global, according to Lu. Each spring, the organization hosts its summit conference that brings student entrepreneurs from all over the world to Stanford and Silicon Valley. ASES also works with startups and companies to provide global internship placements through its abroad program, hosts entrepreneurs from around the globe and runs ideathons with international companies.

ASES rebrands for global focus
Delegates from all of the world attend ASES’ summit conference at Stanford in 2017 for a week of speakers, networking, and hackathons. (Photo courtesy of ASES)

Serena Zhang ’24, who joined ASES and participated in the breakthrough program — a program that provides students the opportunity to learn about VC and investing firsthand — this year, said that she found the experience of studying startups in other countries eye-opening.

“I grew up here in Silicon Valley, and it’s very crazy to just imagine that there are a lot of different startup ideas across the globe in many different countries,” she said. “It [gave me] a better understanding and range of what I can come to appreciate is startup culture.”

While studying startups in Indonesia and the Philippines, Zhang said she found the environment “completely different” from Silicon Valley, including differences in governmental regulations and startup industry standards and their subsequent impact on how startups develop.

Alexander Peng ’23, co-director of ASES’ summit conference, feels similarly. 

“Personally, I’ve had much more exposure to the global startup ecosystem through [ASES] events with founders and VCs,” he said. “It’s profoundly shaped where I hope to work and grow, broadening my horizons far beyond the confines of Silicon Valley.”

ASES’ future plans include continuing to expand its chapter presence across more countries, as well as providing programming that spotlights places like the Global South and Canada, Lu said.

“We want our members to solve problems focusing beyond an Americentric scope and develop business skills that are universal (in every sense of the word),” Zeng and Mukherjee wrote.

Jonathan Ling is a graduate student in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford. Contact him at grind ‘at’

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