Starting Up at UCSF

Monday, April 24, 2017

Startup culture is infectious in the Bay Area, and there's no better incubator than UCSF.

Indeed, students here have unbounded access to entrepreneurial resources. Highlights from this year include the I am a UC Entrepreneur! initiative by President Janet Napolitano, the Startup 101 Pitch Night with Chancellor Sam Hawgood, and the Startup Connection mixer with local venture capitalists.

For the School of Medicine Bridges curriculum, startup season is also year-round. UCSF alumnus and biotechnology entrepreneur Dr. David Hung gave a lecture to first-year medical students last winter, and our Health and Society block featured small groups on leadership skills and health IT this spring.

Unsurprisingly, I caught the startup bug soon after arriving on campus. Eager to build a social venture, l enrolled in the fall elective "Evidence-based Entrepreneurship for Healthcare" led by startup guru Dr. Kevin Rodondi.

Teaming up with first-year medical student Alexander Haddad and second-year pharmacy student Kristine Tran, I learned about value propositions, minimal viable products, and pivots — all central components of Lean Startup methodology.

My team went on to create Serify, an online service that allows dating app users to share their verified negative STD test results.

Gaining traction, we entered the 2017 Big Ideas contest hosted by the Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley. After two rounds of review and a decisive pitch, we took home the first-place prize of $9,000 in the IT for Society category.

Startups can be risky business, especially for professional students with competing demands. But by providing the right resources and teaching the right methodology, UCSF sets us on a path to entrepreneurial success.