Photo Courtesy of CSUEB
More than 200 Cal State East Bay students dressed in professional attire with business cards in hand and rushed to hear local business owners give advice on how to creatively apply technology to their businesses at the first Innovate East Bay event on Feb. 25.
The entrepreneurship and innovation fair on the Hayward campus featured CSUEB alumni and other industry leaders like Derick Lee, founder and chief architect at PilotCity, an organization that specializes in cross-sector innovation, who advised students and residents of the East Bay community how to incorporate innovation into their businesses and startups.
The free workshops took place all over campus and kicked off at 11 a.m. inside the Multipurpose Room in the New University Union with speeches from CSUEB alumni, faculty, Congressman Eric Swalwell and local industry leaders.
Forty exhibitors like Upload VR, Sony Mesh and Oakland Digital spoke to attendees at the event, which also featured 20 workshops that taught students job and networking skills. Topics included virtual reality game development, how to begin a startup company and innovation in health care.
Innovate East Bay was created in 2016 by Jerry Chang, a former East Bay Associated Students Inc. president and current data lead for Hayward Promise Neighborhood, a community organization that works to improve the education and well-being of students within the Hayward Unified School District, who felt that East Bay cities like Dublin, Hayward and Castro Valley lacked conferences where the community could discuss innovation and business.
In 2014, Chang and co-lead Aaron Lin began “Startup Weekends at CSUEB,” a three-day event designed to advise students, alumni and community members on how to launch their own startup businesses, according to a 2014 article by The Pioneer.
Chang said Innovate East Bay is geared toward someone in the field of technology who wants to create a new app or invention to will improve one’s health or quality of life, like the Fitbit.
“Innovation allows our students and our community to build their own happiness,” said Chang. “I think when they leverage the power of innovation, they end up increasing the effectiveness that they can bring into their lives so that they can bring their ideas into the world.”
Second-year business administration major Jesus Sanchez y Sanchez found himself at the “Build (What They Need) and They Will Pay” panel presentation, hosted by AdStage, Inc., a San Francisco-based software company, representative Josh Rodriguez in Meiklejohn Hall.
Sanchez y Sanchez, who was originally uncertain about attending the event, told the Pioneer that he wants to own his own business or product in the future. He thought the event would be a great opportunity to meet new people, so he made a goal to add 20 people on LinkedIn to make “meaningful” connections at the event.
“[I want to make] an impactful first interaction so that they remember me,” said Sanchez y Sanchez. “Maybe they’re not important to me, like their skills and assets, but maybe I can connect them to someone that is and they will know me as that guy that connected them and maybe in the future if they do find somebody that’s in accounting they could end up thinking, ‘oh this guy connected me before.’”
Marissa Lucero, owner of My Fashion Design Kit, an Oakland clothing store located that uses fashion design to teach math, engineering and entrepreneurship to students ages 8-17, found out about the event through one of the presenters, Lily Capercenter.
Lucero told the Pioneer that she found this event helpful to connect with other local businesses. “There is a lot of innovation actually happening in East Bay I was unaware of,” said Lucero. “One of the things I learned within my business is that you have to be connected in your community.”