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Danielle’s 2019 SVB Trek Experience

2019 began with a bang! As a student entrepreneur and the founder of Dough 4 Degrees, I traveled to San Francisco, California for a four-day extravaganza with the Silicon Valley Bank.

Watch the video below to learn about my key takeaways from conversations with millionaire investors and prominent CEOS. Read this PDF for a full list of all of the speakers.

I also would like to express gratitude to Dan Beck, Chief Financial Officer of Silicon Valley Bank, for sponsoring my travel through Apex’s Venture Scholars program. His generosity and willingness to ensure that a fellow Hokie has a chance to learn more about entrepreneurship is deeply appreciated.

The Silicon Valley Bank Trek is for student entrepreneurs at different universities around the world. In my cohort, there were students from India, Ireland, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We were a diverse cohort in age, socioeconomic background, disciplines, and experiences.

However, there were similarities that allowed us to connect beyond our identities and interest in entrepreneurship.

I encourage you to consider my advice below if you would like to join the next SVB Trek:

  1. Know your business and yourself. The SVB Trek is an opportunity for you to grow as an individual and receive critical advice that can help your business grow. I used this experience to gain more self-awareness and create conversations with others so they could critique the business model of Dough 4 Degrees. Their feedback and ideas have helped tremendously.
  2. Connect with the entrepreneurship program at your university. Silicon Valley Bank is constantly looking for new schools and students. The university official that SVB will probably communicate with the most about this opportunity is the director or associate director of your entrepreneurship program. I suggest that you strive to consistently improve your business idea and ensure that your university’s entrepreneurship program is aware of the work you’re doing, so they can nominate you.
  3. Build traction early and leverage it at all times. Having an idea is great, but having a prototype and/or paying customers is even better. Demonstrating that you have traction via press, investments, or paying customers gives you leverage to show why they should consider you for this opportunity. Always keep this approach in mind, but never unethically manipulate your data to help you win.
  4. Always operate with a heart of gratitude. Be grateful for the opportunity regardless of your results. Expressing gratitude and operating with humility will take you further in life than boasting and gloating.

I hope my video and the tips above are helpful. Please contact me via LinkedIn if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions. I would love to hear about your experience!


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