Kai Wesleyan Takes on Silicon Valley [Saturday]

Saturday's reflections are written by: Mateusz Burgunder '15, Korkid Akepanidtaworn '18, and  Paticha Areepipatkul '18. Students participated in UC Berkeley's InfoCamp, and visited Grit Media. 

Matt’s Reflection [InfoCamp and Grit Media]

Mateusz Burgunder '15 is only a few months away from graduating with majors in the Molecular Sciences and Mathematical Economics. He is very much interested in improving medical care by helping medical systems adapt more quickly to good innovations. He expects to start medical school next year and continue thinking about entrepreneurship in science and technology.

Early Saturday morning we arrived at the School of Information at Berkeley for the InfoCamp, which is a conference on data science and information management. Vivienne Ming opened the conference about her projects related to psychology and data analytics. She talked about topics ranging from discrepancies in skills possessed and added on LinkedIn profiles, to mental similarities of Tony Hawk and other competitive athletes, to using Fourier transformations on an individual’s economic behavioral cycles.

For the following three hours, there was time to attend up to four out of twenty-three 45mins presentations. Two Wesleyan students, Alex and Pate would go on to pitch their ideas and were subsequently selected to present their workshop. Alex presented the topic “From History Major to Tech: How Not to Destroy Liberal Arts (while still teaching 21st century skills), and Pate presented his link-sharing project that he is working on now.

The first talk I went to was about developing an app for small communities, where people could exchange or ask for help in their chores. Unlike developing an app with profit in mind, this one focuses on tying a community closer together, with the goal that this will ultimately boosts economic productivity in the community by allowing everyone to do any chores at anytime.

The second talk I went to was about how we, as designers, create new ideas. Different ways to do this in the past include using Creative Machines, which are different techniques to generate new perspectives and answers to problems. These could be in the form of divine rituals using cards (tarot), tossing dice to generate Waltz dances, or even open-ended Role Playing Games. Regardless which technique is employed, all of them share the same structure, which he calls “Semantic Noodling.”

After the two talks, I was joined a two hour discussion with four to five other people, one already successful entrepreneurs with multiple companies, some others with viable products ready to be marketed, and others were life science consultants.

The first discussion was titled “Medicine at Home,” which was led by a laser physicist. The whole idea is about creating an app that can do a diagnosis, maybe with the help of a health professional, and eventually get prescriptions through the company for a fraction of the price of seeing a physician in person, who would write the prescription instead. This one of many topics in e-health/m-health (electronic/mobile health), which greatly interests me. Right now, prescriptions are only allowed to be made by certified doctors, and not companies, but the idea would stimulate growth in e-health and doctors working on this side of the business could spend less time per patient, and overall be convenient for everyone involved. The discussion was focused on going about this dilemma.

The second discussion was titled “Intuitive Medical Imaging,” which was led by a product manager of a company with only three other people. They developed a very cool software to look at thousands of cross-sectional X-ray and MRI images from three sides (effectively creating a 3D model) so that surgeons could essentially know almost exactly any bone or brain condition before starting a procedure. The product manager wanted to know the best way to break into the market in the US with this product, and the challenges that he would face, such as the notion that doctors only slowly adapt to new technologies.

Overall, this workshop was a fantastic experience for me and the Wesleyan group. We met with many individuals of all ages and expertise, all wanting to solve current problems and inefficiencies that can be solved with the data that is available or can be collected. People want to develop user-friendly tools, identify patterns and explain cognitive behavior and decision making, and create convenient ways to gather useful data in this presumably data-driven century.

After the Information Conference we stopped by to see AJ Chan at his office in San Francisco. Ever since he graduated from Wesleyan with a major in economics in 2011, and has been in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he started and developed multiple companies in the past four years. His most recent project is Grit Media (http://www.gritmedia.co/), which is a sports media company.

It was great to learn from AJ about his experiences and advice for breaking into the startup industry. One of the more prominent examples that stuck with me is when he explained how a friend of his tried to establish contact with a firm, which kept refusing to recognize his voice. He then managed to find multiple partners interested in working with the firm that he wanted to work for, after which they gladly took him. Since a startup environment encourages people to generalize and act, this was a good example of someone with a successful core mentality.

On most of the trip so far, our Wesleyan group had the chance to speak with many successful people in Silicon Valley. Although, what can sometimes be more meaningful than learning about the winners iis learning about the losers in order to better prepare for the pitfalls that may lie ahead while developing a new startup. AJ recommended Paul Graham’s advice from his experience in the startup environment online (http://www.paulgraham.com/).


Krid’s Reflection [InfoCamp]

Krid is a member of the class of 2018 from Bangkok, Thailand planning to major in Economics and Mathematics. 

    It was Saturday morning and we soon found ourselves participating in Infocamp 2015 event hosted by students from UC Berkeley. Surrounded by inspiring and motivated like-minded entrepreneurs, I have learned a number of things that I have never thought of prior to this event. Our KaiWes group disseminates to join different workshops and discussions, and I attended the followings: Timebanking: Motivation and Mobile, How do you think new things?, Where’s the data?, and  Predicting Train Accidents: using Rare-Event Simulation.

    All of these talks are actually pitched on that day by anyone passionate enough to host his or her own topic. Despite the diversity of topics, there was a common passion they all engaged when discussing their ideas. Packed with enthusiasm, the speakers created an open space where we could ask any question, comment on the work, and give feedback. Most importantly, I witnessed new topics that I have never explored previously. Many of these novel and breakthrough ideas are mostly unidentified in Thailand,  and I see potential for impact in bringing these discussions to the developing world. 

Paticha’s Reflection

Paticha is a member of the class of 2018 from Thailand, Bangkok majoring in Psychology and Economics. She is a Kai Fellow and also a founding member of WeStudee, an Education startup based in Hartford. 


    By this day, everyone is definitely tired from going all around the place during the past few days. It was nice to attend a bunch of events all in one place this time. Held at the UC Berkeley School of Information, InfoCamp 2015 was the gathering place for entrepreneurs and others who are interested in Tech and want to share their thoughts and spread their ideas on Tech projects that they’ve been working on. The pitches were very interesting; there were many topics that I would like to look more into it and others that intrigued me because I’ve never heard of them before.

One of them was time banking. The lecture was about the concept of time banking which at first I thought is too ideal and could not be applied to everyday life-basis. However, after half an hour listening to the lecture, I changed my mind. The person who gave this talks said he is working on an application to make time banking practical and applicable to people who has low income or need financial helping. Another lecture that I really enjoyed was about data gathering and how do we gather good data. This interests me because it is relevant to the class I’m taking at Wesleyan (Economics of Big Data). The lecture also gave me ideas of how to add on to my midterm project of that class.  I honestly did not think that attending one-day event would offer me so much ideas to think about as well as an add-on of the topic relevant to the content of my classes at Wesleyan.