Resource Nights: Panel of Past Participants

This recap of the Business Plan Practicum (Resource Nights) course at UW features three tips all entrepreneurs need to know from Ambika Singh, CEO of Armoire.Each week you can read a recap of the previous Entrepreneurship Resource Nights (Business Plan Practicum) session. This past week, instructor John Zagula (founder, Ignition Capital) lead a class featuring Xiaoyu (Renee) Wang, CEO of Castbox, as well as a panel of past student competition participants including Jenny Steger of Nanodropper (2019 HIC Grand Prize Winner), Harrison Sarsito of ElectroSolar Oxygen (winner of the $5k Social Impact Prize at the 2019 Dempsey Startup Competition), Susan Tai of Yumso (winner of the $2,500 eBay “Best Marketplace Idea” prize at the 2018 Business Plan Competition), and Randolph Lopez of A-Alpha Bio (Grand Prize Winner of 2018 Business Plan Competition). Lectures are recorded and the links posted to our website weekly. 


“Ideas come from everywhere.” – Alfred Hitchcock

“No army can withstand the strength of an idea who time has come.” – Victor Hugo


Specials thanks to Xiaoyu (Renee) Wang, CEO of Castbox who shared both her own personal inspiration and ABCs for startup success, as well as those for founding Castbox. Wang spoke about how Castbox grew to the point of being a real company, facing real challenges. Students also heard from a group of diverse and inspiring panelists who shared their inspirations and experiences as founders. Each spoke about the benefits of both doing the competitions and using the resources of the University of Washington and the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship in the Foster School of Business.

Watch the class in its entirety now or skip ahead to 1:21:00 to hear from the panel of past student competition participants.

Also a big thank you to the dozens of students who came up front and pitched at the social after class. A successful pitch is the key for any entrepreneur to master. We learned the all important ABCs and how they can help as a framework for casting your vision of the future. Students shared thoughts on the best projects from a survey delivered to the class and showed that solving an actual problem is a good idea, one that is real to you, and also hopefully one that has a market greater than just you.


Resource Nights (ENTRE 440/540 Business Plan Practicum) are each Tuesday starting January 7, 2020 from 6 to 7:50 pm in PACCAR Hall 192 (Shansby Auditorium). Can’t make it in person? Lectures will be recorded and the links posted to our website weekly. View the Resource Night schedule for links and complete listing of topics and guest speakers.


Tuesday, January 21 at 6:00 pm in PACCAR Hall, Shansby Auditorium (room 192)

Students will learn about taking something from an idea to a product. We will cover:

  • What makes a great idea?
  • Problem/solution – interest and feasibility
  • Building the right team

The first guest speaker will be Ben Gilbert, co-founder of Pioneer Square Labs, a startup studio and early-stage venture capital fund. He is a technology investor and entrepreneur, and currently represents PSL on the Boards of Taunt and Glow. He has a background in product management from Microsoft where he shipped the first version of Office for iPad and ran The Garage, the company’s grassroots innovation program. Ben also co-founded Madrona Venture Labs.

Ben was named the 2017 Young Entrepreneur of the Year by GeekWire and 40 Under 40 by the Puget Sound Business Journal. He is the co-host of the popular venture capital podcast “Acquired” which analyzes landmark acquisitions and IPOs in the technology sector.

In the second half of class, we will be joined by Jason Sokoloff, Head librarian for the Foster Business Library at UW. Jason will review a variety of tools and databases that students have access to while enrolled at the University of Washington, and demonstrate how these tools can enhance your market research as you prepare your business plan.

Reminder, you can drop-in or catch the recording of this weekly course.


Apply for the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge by Monday, Feb. 10 at
Apply for the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge by Tuesday, Feb. 18 at

Learn more about the Buerk Center student competitions at

Students can can apply to both the HIC and EIC! We see several student teams from around the region compete in one or both before advancing their idea beyond the prototype stage and setting themselves up for startup success in the Dempsey Startup Competition. Our competitions are open to undergrads and grad students at accredited colleges and universities across the Cascadia Corridor–Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia, as well as Alaska.

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