An evening of story-telling about impact and opportunity through student entrepreneurship

By Ankita Das & Amy Anderson

This April, the Hopkins Biotech Network (HBN) hosted their 2nd Annual Entrepreneurship Information Session and Panel Discussion to educate the Johns Hopkins community and stimulate discussions about our entrepreneurial ecosystem. This one-of-a-kind event brought together speakers from groups both inside and outside Johns Hopkins, representing the breadth of local expertise and opportunities for student and trainee involvement in many entrepreneurship organizations.

Entrepreneurship has become an area of growing relevance within the Johns Hopkins community, as evidenced by the diverse academic backgrounds of the event’s attendees (see figure below). In the audience were undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, resident physicians, researchers, and even a few faculty, CEOs, and incubator managers. Attendance by student leaders and entrepreneurial community managers reflects the traction that these groups have created and demonstrates the broader interest of the Baltimore community towards student entrepreneurship.

The evening unfolded with a series of presentations from local entrepreneurship groups, including HBN’s own Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program, A Level Capital, Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures (JHTV), Medical & Educational Perspectives (MEP) and the Rare Genomics Institute. HBN launched the discussion by presenting their vision for building the Johns Hopkins entrepreneurial community and strategies to implement educational and mentoring programs. Presentations centered around efforts to facilitate community development through biomedical and social entrepreneurship. Each group shared their history, mission and information about ongoing activities and resources for aspiring entrepreneurs. The event truly exemplified the impact scientist and student entrepreneurs have made in the community.

Stories from the Speakers:

In addition to providing valuable information career development, the discussion leaders shared their experiences and highlighted the leadership skills they had acquired by participating in entrepreneurship organizations and activities.

Mehdi Rizvi, M.D., Co-founder and Director of Financing for the Private Equity & Venture Capital Club (PE/VC), remarked on his experiences in pitch competitions hosted by the club and how it has helped shape his career path. He also how shared his impressive 6-month journey of discovery: how he emerged as a start-up founder by actively engaging in leadership opportunities within the Johns Hopkins community.

Kasim Ahmad discussed the plethora of opportunities and initiatives under the JHTV umbrella, including funding and educational resources, the Social Innovation Labs, Fast Forward accelerator, and O’Connor Fellowships, to name a few.

Jing You, Ph.D. candidate and student volunteer for the Rare Genomics Institute, shared insights about this unique crowd-sourcing venture that seeks to connect researchers to patients with rare diseases. She mentioned several engagement opportunities within the group that enable scientists and clinicians to learn about start-up development and project management while making a difference in the lives of patients with rare genetic diseases.

Ankita Das, Ph.D., a post-doctoral fellow at the Carnegie Institute and director of HBN’s Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program, talked about the vision to integrate entrepreneurial resources at Johns Hopkins and connect students with expert mentors within the HBN network.

The energetic conversations from the presentations were carried through into a panel discussion featuring student and faculty entrepreneurs from the Johns Hopkins community: Joshua Weiyang Wang (Co-founder, Pathovax), Medhi Rizvi (Founder, PE/VC), David West (Co-founder, Proscia), Kunal Parikh (Founder, Social Innovation Labs) and Nayoung Louie (Founder, Path to Polish). Panelists delivered an encouraging message about pursuing entrepreneurship even as a student, sharing unique stories about their journeys into entrepreneurship and the challenges that they overcame. Aspiring entrepreneurs were advised to surround themselves with the engaged mentors and take advantage of resources in the dynamic entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Beyond the Event:

Through this gathering and others, HBN hopes continue its efforts to create awareness about career development resources across the many Johns Hopkins campuses, while facilitating creative collisions, incubating collaborations and building mentor-mentee relationships among Johns Hopkins trainees and the leaders of our entrepreneurial ecosystem.

If you have followed this article and want to get involved in HBN’s movement, connect with the entrepreneurial community, or access our mentor network, please  contact the Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program team at emp.team@hopkinsbio.org.

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