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How to hold an Invention to Venture workshop

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Engineer. Entrepreneur. One step away.


Fill the Gap

Sharang , a junior student at the Cooper Union as well as a University Innovation fellow, realized that there was a gap between the engineering and entrepreneurship in his campus. His fellows were very passionate about building, designing, creating; everything about engineering, but few took the steps to develop their engineering ideas into products. With the knowledge learned from the University Innovation Fellow program, he quickly responded that an Invention-to-Venture (I2V) workshop would bridge the two Es. 


With the Invention-to-Venture idea in mind, Sharang started the preparation in mid-October. Collecting the essentials from NCIIA, he produced this to-do list:

Event branding 

What are the key componentsof the gap between engineering and entrepreneurship?

  • Why entrepreneurship and who is an entrepreneur;
  • How to assess an idea; how to develop an idea into a product and sell it;
  • How to expand the venture and where to find the money;
  • How to legally protect the product.


The theme of I2V was to introduce the basic knowledge of entrepreneurship. Sharang began seeking speakers with experience on the areas listed above. Contacting alumni is an especially good place to begin. Sharang also made good use of location: New York City. He decided to connect with Professor Rob Marano, a serial entrepreneur and the organizer of  the Entrepreneurship Society at Cooper Union.

Soon, with help from Professor Marano, he secured the following speakers:

  • John Pavley: Currently the Chief Technology Officer of the Huffington Post. Extensive experience with tech startups. A regular blogger of new movement of tech industry.  
  • Steven Silberstang: Cooper Union Alumnus. Currently owner of Foolhardy Investors, a NY based investment firm and serial entrepreneur.
  • Owen Davis: Managing Director of NYC Seed, a seed stage venture capital firm fund. top 100 internet executives in New York.
  • David Kalow: Founding partner of Kalow & Springout, LLP. Expert in intellectual property and licensing.
  • Barry Negrin: Cooper Union Alumnus. Registered patent attorney, currently serving as counsel to Kane Kessler, P.C.
  • Chaitanya Kanojia: Founder and CEO of Aereo, Inc, a groundbreaking online TV platform.
  • Alyssa Davis: A sophomore at Cooper Union. Together with her sister and grandfather, she received $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation under the Ghana Sustainable Aid Project (GSAP).


Because of the close relationship with Professor Rob Marano as well as the novelty of I2V event, Sharang successfully gained sponsorship from local companies through Professor Rob's connection. Sponsors include the Hackerati, GitHub Inc. and

Date and location

Time: Saturday, December 1, 2012 

Location: The New Academic Building of the Cooper Union, 41 Cooper Square New York City

Event marketing

The quickest and most efficient way to market this event is via the internet. Sharang and his colleagues published the event information online for Cooper Union students:


Sharang looked for peers sharing the same entrepreneurial ideas. His partner, Eric Leong, has been instrumental throughout his entrepreneurial experience.

Agenda for the day

Time      Event
8:00-8:30  Continental Breakfast, Registration, Pre-Networking in LL101.
8:30-8:45 Welcome & About NCIIA – Sharang Phadke
8:45-9:45 Is Technology Entrepreneurship for you – John Pavley, Steve Silberstang
9:45 – 10:00 Break
10:00 – 10:45  Idea Validation & Opportunity Assessment – Owen Davis
10:45 – 11:30  Marketing & Sales for Early Stage Companies – Rob Marano
11:30 – 12:15     The Perfect Business Plan – Chet Kanjolia
12:15 – 1:30 Networking Lunch in LL101 and 101
1:30 – 2:15   Issues in Intellectual Property Licensing – Barry Negrin, David Kalow
2:15 – 2:30  Break
2:30 – 3:15    Engaging Stakeholders as a Social Entrepreneur – Alyssa Davis
3:15 – 3:30    Final Remarks



December 2012 was the first time I2V was held at Cooper Union. Sharang believed the response from students for the competition that year was positive. It effectively connected the campus with an outside entrepreneurship network. About 50 students attended the workshop. Together with Hackerthon and the demo workshop at New York University, the awareness of entrepreneurship has greatly improved among Cooper Union students. In the future, Sharang thinks about adding additional events that can be implemented, including bringing investors and advisors to campus, as well as an elevator pitch. The success of the event was also written by the first speaker, John Pavley from the Huffington Post.

Lessons Learned

  • Start early
  • Grasp every possible resource including faculty, sponsors, past speakers, NCIIA etc.
  • Every I2V should be different; find the niche in your school
  • Be creative with marketing and organizing
  • Choose the right speakers. Students repsond very differently depending on the speaker. A good way to check the speaker's personality would be to have an interview or an informal conversation with potential speakers before the event.
  • A peer speaker with entrepreneurial experience (perferably from the same school) catches more attention
  • Choose a strong first speaker to set the tone for the whole event
  • Send out reminders to both students and speakers as the event approaches

Related links:

I2V at Cooper Union:

Article from Huffington Post: " In the end, we are all entrepreneurs" (