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Fueling Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs
Ignite Conference: access and information "it would have taken me years to gain on my own."

Ignite showed me another career path for a Ph.D. The experience of visiting companies and listening to entrepreneurs’ stories is far more valuable than what you can learn in the classroom. It broadened my view about how different technologies transfer to products that can better people’s lives.

Fueling Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs

A diverse cohort of 75 MBA students and Ph.D. candidates from UC Davis, Rice, Lamar, and other top universities recently spent four days immersed in entrepreneurship at the 2019 Ignite conference. 

A collaboration between the UC Davis Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, Ignite introduced the students to some of Northern California’s top startup leaders and innovative CEOs.

Our partnership with Rice University allows students from multiple universities and regions across the country to meet, connect, and build a strong and diverse network that will support and promote them in their lives and careers beyond graduation.

Ignite visits Tesla

The undisputed highlight of the conference was a day-long whirlwind tour of pioneering firms in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley. Among the site visits: Coinbase, Sight Machine SmartCar, Evolve BioSystems, Helix, Mayfield, and Tesla—which offered a riveting tour of its factory.

Ignite visits Parsable

Back on campus, over the following two days students heard from 10 entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, who shared unvarnished, honest accounts of the challenges and satisfactions of building a company from the ground up. Mark Randall, former chief strategist and VP of creativity at Adobe, noted, “I would rather fail at changing the world, than succeed in an unimportant way”—a sentiment many speakers echoed.

Ignite offered tremendous perspective for me to think about blind spots an entrepreneur faces and to always be agile and open to pivoting.
—UC Davis MBA Student Ayushman Mathur

“Ignite provides an engaging and interactive experience for students to learn about what it takes to be an entrepreneur from those who have built amazing companies,” explains Niki Peterson, the institute’s senior program manager.

“Our partnership with Rice University allows students from multiple universities and regions across the country to meet, connect, and build a strong and diverse network that will support and promote them in their lives and careers beyond graduation.”

“I would rather fail at changing the world, than succeed in an unimportant way.”
—Mark Randall, Adobe

participants blog about their Ignite experience

Business Development Fellow Diane Dou says the meetings with leaders at Coinbase and Ripple helped her “understand and buy into the concept of blockchain and its cutting-edge application and implications for the future of our daily lives.

“It was very exciting to feel connected to the vivid front lines of Silicon Valley—an experience not attainable by browsing online or sitting in classrooms.”

Read the blog >

Ignite visits Evolve BioSystems

Business Development Fellow Amir Bolandparvaz notes that the conference speakers “each condensed decades of entrepreneurial experiences into an hour filled with advice, pitfalls to avoid, and inspiration.”

Read the blog >

Ignite visits SmartCar

The Ignite program fundamentally changed my perspective on hard work and what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur. Too many random things can happen to only focus on monetary gain.

Ignite 2019 was sponsored by the UC Davis Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, UC Davis Graduate School of Management, Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, Rice University, and the Goose Society.