Build entrepreneurial skills in workshops open to members of the Stanford community.

STVP Sparks are short-term, extracurricular “pop-up classes” on a variety of topics related to entrepreneurship and innovation. Taught by Stanford lecturers or members of the local entrepreneurial community, each Spark consists of one evening session. This makes Sparks an excellent way to expand your entrepreneurial mindset without adding course units.

Upcoming Spring 2017 Sparks

How to Build a Strong Founding Team

with Alan Chiu, Co-Founder and Product Lead, Listo, and Partner, XSeed Capital; and a panel of guests.
April 10, 2017
5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

The strongest teams are composed of people who complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and where members have respect and empathy for what their partners bring to the table. What are the different skills and talents that technical and business minds bring to the table, and how have successful teams identified and recruited key talent to fill skill gaps and position themselves for success?

This Spark is co-sponsored by STVP and the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. The panel will include:

• Dan Berkenstock, Co-Founder and founding CEO, Skybox Imaging

• Etosha Cave, Co-Founder, Opus 12

• Dan Macklin, Co-Founder, SoFi

• Satyen Sangani, Co-Founder and CEO, Alation

• Mada Seghete, Co-Founder, Branch Metrics

Food will be served, and space is limited. Please arrive early to reserve your seat.

Build a Friendlier Future for Banks

with Bruce Cahan, Adjunct Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University
April 11, 2017
5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

What future would you want banks and banking to have?  Are the apps being developed for iPhone and Android making the same abusive banking experience portable, or are they radically transforming and improving the experience? Is it enough to start a fin-tech company and sell it to the major banks or social media companies, or would those exits and the pipeline of creating fin-tech to be sold to entrenched players be “more the same, faster?” Bruce Cahan will share his “aha moment” at the Command Center after 9/11 that banks and banking needed to change. He will share his design for GoodBank ™(io), as a “teaching bank,” and will invite the audience into his workshop of how an impacts-aware transparent bank changes finance, and the lives of people reaching for better futures and outcomes.

Food will be served, and space is limited. Please arrive early to reserve your seat.

Pro Tips for a Legally Legit Launch

with Timothy J. Harris, Palo Alto Office Managing Partner, Morrison & Foerster LLP
April 12, 2017
5:45 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.

This Spark will explore the different types of legal entities through which businesses are operated, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each, and the decision of most startups to form corporations. Timothy Harris will then go through the incorporation process, exploring jurisdictions of formation and publicly filed corporate charters. Next, he will discuss many of the important organizational matters of a newly formed corporation, including establishing the governance structure, founder stock ownership and various administrative matters. Finally, this Spark will cover several of the key post-incorporation matters that startups must attend to, including aggregation of intellectual-property rights, establishment of stock incentive plans and issues surrounding stock valuation.

Food will be served, and space is limited. Please arrive early to reserve your seat.

Disrupting Corporations from Within

with Jeremiah Owyang, Founder, Crowd Companies
April 18, 2017
5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Today's companies are trying to innovate by keeping up with the latest technology trends, while the real challenge to overcome lies in their internal culture. This leaves novice companies deploying many innovation programs with little cross-collaboration, leading to incremental innovation rather than long-lasting product, service, customer experience or business-model changes.

Jeremiah Owyang’s presentation of case studies and original survey data will show you how mature companies are overcoming these challenges and more by:

• Approaching innovation in 10 distinct ways, from internal “intrapreneurship” programs and “centers of excellence,” to external incubator partnerships and innovation outposts.

• Assigning key performance indicators to each innovation program to measure success and secure executive support.

• Breaking through the middle-management "permafrost" layer that is resistant to change in favor of short-term goals.

• Building nimble enough teams to innovate while still maintaining their existing revenue streams attracting quality talent and bolstering existing talent with the right innovation education.

Food will be served, and space is limited. Please arrive early to reserve your seat.

How to Win the War for Diverse Talent

with Mallun Yen, innovator, public company officer, investor, and IP expert
April 19, 2017
5:45 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.

The war for talent is more intense than ever, and studies show that diverse teams are critical to innovation. How do you recruit and hire high-performing employees even when you’re not a sexy company in a hot space? And how do you do so in a way that is both diverse and inclusive when even the big stars are struggling despite hundreds of millions spent on diversity efforts? How do you change a culture that has a natural tendency toward perpetuating sameness?

Technology executive, founder and investor Mallun Yen shares what she’s learned from both the startup and corporate world, including with organizations she built from the ground up and others where she stepped into homogeneous teams that were already in place. She’ll start with her theory of “the buddy syndrome” – why companies look the same (and why changing your hiring is so hard). While there isn’t one magic formula, Yen will share six steps anyone can implement to change their hiring practices in a way that brings diversity into an organization.

Food will be served, and space is limited. Please arrive early to reserve your seat.

Seven Steps to Getting VC Funding

with Geoffrey Moore, Author, “Crossing the Chasm”
April 25, 2017
5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

In addition to writing “Crossing the Chasm,” Geoffrey Moore has been a venture partner with Mohr Davidow Ventures and Wildcat Technology Ventures for the past two decades. Join him as he outlines his no-nonsense approach to securing venture capital funding and does his best to demystify the dynamics of VC decision-making.

Food will be served, and space is limited. Please arrive early to reserve your seat.

Leading Startups Alongside Stakeholders

with Dan Berkenstock, Co-Founder and founding CEO, Skybox Imaging; and Dan Dorosin Dan Dorosin, Partner, Fenwick & West
April 26, 2017
5:45 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.

Raising your first equity financing can lead to big changes in the governance and control of a startup. Before you raise a round, it’s simple: You and the co-founders control the company. Post-funding, you have a board of directors and investors, often with a broad range of possible rights. And from there, governance can become increasingly complicated with each round of financing. This Spark will highlight from both an operational and legal perspective some of the important governance transitions that arise for a startup through the arc of multiple financings, as well as potential impacts on both founders and early employees.

Food will be served, and space is limited. Please arrive early to reserve your seat.

Sci-Fi: The Force Behind Innovation

with Phil Libin, Managing Director, General Catalyst, and Co-founder, Evernote; and Katherine Boyle, Senior Associate, General Catalyst
May 1, 2017
5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Dune. Snow Crash. Star Trek. Science fiction has long pushed innovators to think deeply about the world they want to create. For many entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, a youth immersed in sci-fi literature and films helped to shape their views of how technology could change the world. In this Spark, Phil Libin, Katherine Boyle and some surprise guests will share how science fiction impacted their world views – and even the founding and scaling of their companies. Know nothing about the genre? That's great! For the sci-fi novice, they'll give an overview of the "Sci-fi Canon" and a reference guide for how to talk to tech nerds through the shared language of science fiction.

Food will be served, and space is limited. Please arrive early to reserve your seat.


STVP generously thanks Accel Partners for supporting the Sparks program, offering entrepreneurial skills and training to students and other members of the Stanford community.
Accel Partners