UW Foster School of Business alumni, faculty, students and staff gathered in Founders Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 12 to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Master of Science in Entrepreneurship program.
Connie Bourassa-Shaw, who was instrumental in founding the degree program, addressed the gathering. She shared memories of the origin of the program and emphasized the value it brings to students today. “This is a dream come true. We worked really hard to get this going,” Bourassa-Shaw said. “And you guys are living proof that it works.”
The informal gathering was attended by many of the program’s notable graduates, including Aleyssa Visnjic of the inaugural program cohort in 2018. Visnjic is the co-founder and CEO of WhyLabs, a start-up focused on minimizing risk in artificial intelligence implementations. She was joined at the event by her classmate Justin Gough, who launched Ridwell, a start-up enabling recycling of items that would otherwise be thrown away. Also in attendance was Keisha Credit, who after launching a number of successful ventures is now a coach for others working to do so themselves.
The event also included a demonstration of entrepreneurial spirit from Riya Gupta (MSE 2020), who brought samples of two flavors of her latest product, okra water. Gupta is exploring the health benefits of the beverage, including potentially providing a natural means of lowering blood pressure.
Students currently enrolled in the program had the opportunity to network and discuss their ideas with faculty, staff and one another. Aditi Gudi (MSE 2023) is working on a project converting recycled plastic into clothing. Gudi says that while she is motivated by the environmental benefit of the product, the team is committed to delivering a fashion option that is competitive in the marketplace on its own merits. “For the consumer, it will be just as stylish and affordable as what is currently available.”
The event was catered by the Portofino Restaurant, which was started by Satnam Penaich (MSE 2019). Penaich credits his time at Foster with helping him successfully pivot during the pandemic, during which time his restaurant expanded their retail and take-out options. Today, his business is stronger than ever. “This program was very fitting for a small business owner. I was able to scale my business with what I learned, opening a second location,” Penaich said.
Visit the Master of Science in Entrepreneurship page to learn more about the program, including curriculum, student services and mentorship opportunities.