Our Story

IDEAS at SJSU | Sofia Wright

Our Story — IDEAS at SJSU is more than a club on a college campus.

Rather, the entirety of the program is student-led and student-run, allowing for students to pitch and bring their ideas into fruition.

Just three years ago students understood that there needed to be collaboration between fields, not division and divisiveness.

From computer science to engineering to graphic design, businesses utilize skill sets from different fields to succeed, which the founders of IDEAS recognized.

“No one major could start a business,” said Sahib Grewal, SJSU Junior and current Treasurer of IDEAS.

Since 2016, IDEAS has fostered award-winning businesses.

Teams that have come out of the club have won almost every competition on campus, including the Business Plan Competition, Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge, and The Paseo Prototyping competition; last year’s SVBPC saw six out of eight finalists belong to IDEAS.

“IDEAS is a club of ambitious entrepreneurs,” said Fabio Schmidberger, an international student from Germany and founder of medixflow. “Everyone in the lab inspires you to work on your start-up.”

Thanks to the ZinnStarter program, an IDEAS branch and accelerator which microseeds 5 to 10 teams per year, IDEAS has become the breeding ground for innovative students that want to launch their own start-ups.

Also, the Dean of the School of Business Dan Moshavi and head of the SVCE Dr. Anu Basu have been some of the biggest ambassadors for creating a full-fledged entrepreneurial ecosystem for SJSU students.

In 2018, they helped bring in Ray Zinn, who has been one of the most important figures and longest standing CEOs in the Bay Area, in helping IDEAS blossom.

Doubling back, the ZinnStarter Incubator is to help jump-start early stage student start-ups by providing funding and connecting them with other necessary resources like industry mentors, partnerships, and even legal representation.

IDEAS provides the resources, but the students within are the reason for these grand successes.

These like-minded students from all across campus, with the founding members coming from business entrepreneurship, marketing, finance, mechanical engineering, computer science, and design, is one of the only clubs on campus founded by such a diverse group of students.

All of them had the same goal and saw it through, which was to get students to stop thinking and start acting; to create tangible products and services that solve real everyday problems.

Moving forward, the ZinnStarter program since allowed for two batches, or two cohorts the opportunity to fuel their start-ups.

In Batch 1 of the ZinnStarter Program included start-ups from the 2017-18 academic school year.

One group created ambii, a real-time music app that allows for collaboration and streaming; winner of the Bill Barton grand prize award at the Silicon Valley Business Plan Competition, the current user base is over a thousand.

Another stand out from Batch 1 is Park Stash.

Park Stash, or “the Airbnb for parking,” has now won several awards, and provides a sustainable platform that guarantees parking.

Now in this current school year, Batch 2 includes the likes of NeoPlank, NewsBee, and several others.

IDEAS continues to look toward the bright future of student-led, student-run start-ups and collaborations.