Photo courtesy of: Cutler Scholars ProgramCutler Scholars (L-R): Tanner Wick, Matthew Benson
Two Cutler Scholars attended the 2018 Startup Grind Global Conference in Redwood City, California, on Feb. 12-14. Matthew Benson (Ellis Cutler Scholar ’20) and Tanner Wick (Russ Legacy Cutler Scholar ‘19) received funding to attend the conference through a Cutler Scholars Exploration Grant.
At the conference, which was hosted by Google for Entrepreneurs, thousands of entrepreneurs and founders gather to share and explore the latest innovations in the tech community. The two scholars found value in the ideas and questions that surfaced in their interactions with over 5,000 entrepreneurs and 40 keynote speakers.
Mechanical engineering major Tanner Wick plans on pursuing an entrepreneurial career after graduation next year.
“I find that a fast paced, high risk - high reward environment is very engaging and motivating. I am eager to start working within the product development cycle and introduce technical solutions to the marketplace,” said Wick.
Matthew Benson, an entrepreneurship major, said the conference reinforced his goals through the example of others who have used technology and business to impact society.
“Throughout the entire experience there were so many great lessons, but [the] one that I believe was most valuable was the realization that these ‘legendary’ figures are
too, human. [I am] from a small town in the heart of Appalachia, [so] CEOs and investors in Silicon Valley almost appear mythical. However, attending this conference put humanity back into them and made me realize that I am just as capable as them, if not more so,” noted Benson.
Known as one of the most inspirational conferences around the world for entrepreneurs, the Startup Grind exposed Benson and Wick to tools that enhance the Cutler Scholars Program mission to develop students’ intellectual curiosity, leadership, civic responsibility, and character. The students agreed that the Cutler Scholars Program, College of Business and Ohio University more generally have played significant roles in the success of their Startup Grind experience.
“Over the course of the past two years, Ohio University and the Cutler Scholars have put me in countless situations to prepare for this conference. They’ve taught me how to build genuine relationships, they’ve taught me to be analytical and thoughtful, they’ve sent me to unfamiliar places, and they’ve set me up to be successful. By providing me opportunities to develop my skills in a safe ‘incubator-like’ environment, I was prepared and able to positively participate at the conference,” said Benson.
Wick agreed, saying, “I felt very comfortable being out of my comfort zone. Without having a company or past experience in entrepreneurship, it would have been easy to be apprehensive about attending. Yet, because the Cutler Scholars continually encourage students to explore new environments, I was able to manage a successful (and insightful) experience.”
The Exploration Grant, funded by the Cutler Scholars Program, supports the pursuit of challenging and innovative educational experiences similar to the opportunity at Startup Grind shared by Tanner Wick and Matthew Benson.
For anyone considering next year’s conference, Benson recommends to embrace the vulnerability.
“Vulnerability is the breeding ground for growth”, said Benson.
Wick would recommend the event as well.
“I was incredibly impressed by how the presenters, companies, and other attendees advocated for each other's success. Presenters offered mentorships, companies offered resource and job opportunities, and other attendees offered future business partners,” said Wick.