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Velocity goes to the USA – Rivindu Weerasekera

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Velocity is New Zealand’s leading student-led entrepreneurship programme, administered by the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. A cohort of Velocity students recently visited America, sponsored by the University of Auckland, in order to build relationships with Velocity alumni, leading entrepreneurial universities and innovative companies.

Rivindu Weerasekera, Velocity COO and current Engineering PhD candidate, reflects on his visit:

Over the past two weeks I was fortunate enough to visit the USA with three friends from Velocity, thanks to the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Auckland. We were very excited to check out all the amazing stuff happening in the almost mythical Silicon Valley as well as New York and meet a bunch of really amazing people.

While we were in San Francisco and the Bay Area, we visited big tech companies including Google, Facebook, Uber, and Tesla. We also visited a bunch of start-ups and Stanford University as well as meeting up with a whole bunch of alumni doing great things.

One of my highlights was visiting X (Alphabet/Google’s Moonshot Factory). We met with Nick, a kiwi working on robots at X. He showed us around their campus, treated us to a free lunch and introduced us to a bunch of amazing people. Although the project they were working on was not public yet (so they couldn’t tell us much), we walked away truly amazed at what we saw and felt very lucky to have met such amazing yet friendly and humble people.

Throughout the whole trip, what stood out for me were the people. Everyone had a sense of purpose and wanted to change the world. And maybe for that reason, everyone we met was willing to help each other in whatever way they could.

Visiting Stanford University, we got a sense of how our entrepreneurial ecosystem compares. And the sense I got was that we were doing some amazing things here in Auckland. At Stanford, being surrounded by entrepreneurship in every direction means they don’t need to focus on inspiring people as much and everyone considers entrepreneurship as one of the options available to them.

While we do operate in a more challenging environment here, we are helped by the fact that we have a very integrated innovation ecosystem inside the university. What we heard is that one of the keys to facilitating the growth of an entrepreneurial ecosystem is alumni and other individuals who have gone through the entrepreneurial process giving back by mentoring and teaching the next generation. Although we could still do more on this front, I think we do a great job of this through the Velocity competitions and other initiatives we have.

The key takeaway for me was the need to think from a global perspective. New Zealand is very well positioned to be globally competitive. We just need to think outside our comfort zone, think bigger and have a mind-set that anything is achievable if we set our minds to it.

Velocity goes to the USA – Rivindu Weerasekera
Velocity goes to the USA – Rivindu Weerasekera

social media

Velocity is New Zealand’s leading student-led entrepreneurship programme, administered by the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. A cohort of Velocity students recently visited America, sponsored by the University of Auckland, in order to build relationships with Velocity alumni, leading entrepreneurial universities and innovative companies.

Rivindu Weerasekera, Velocity COO and current Engineering PhD candidate, reflects on his visit:

Over the past two weeks I was fortunate enough to visit the USA with three friends from Velocity, thanks to the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Auckland. We were very excited to check out all the amazing stuff happening in the almost mythical Silicon Valley as well as New York and meet a bunch of really amazing people.

While we were in San Francisco and the Bay Area, we visited big tech companies including Google, Facebook, Uber, and Tesla. We also visited a bunch of start-ups and Stanford University as well as meeting up with a whole bunch of alumni doing great things.

One of my highlights was visiting X (Alphabet/Google’s Moonshot Factory). We met with Nick, a kiwi working on robots at X. He showed us around their campus, treated us to a free lunch and introduced us to a bunch of amazing people. Although the project they were working on was not public yet (so they couldn’t tell us much), we walked away truly amazed at what we saw and felt very lucky to have met such amazing yet friendly and humble people.

Throughout the whole trip, what stood out for me were the people. Everyone had a sense of purpose and wanted to change the world. And maybe for that reason, everyone we met was willing to help each other in whatever way they could.

Visiting Stanford University, we got a sense of how our entrepreneurial ecosystem compares. And the sense I got was that we were doing some amazing things here in Auckland. At Stanford, being surrounded by entrepreneurship in every direction means they don’t need to focus on inspiring people as much and everyone considers entrepreneurship as one of the options available to them.

While we do operate in a more challenging environment here, we are helped by the fact that we have a very integrated innovation ecosystem inside the university. What we heard is that one of the keys to facilitating the growth of an entrepreneurial ecosystem is alumni and other individuals who have gone through the entrepreneurial process giving back by mentoring and teaching the next generation. Although we could still do more on this front, I think we do a great job of this through the Velocity competitions and other initiatives we have.

The key takeaway for me was the need to think from a global perspective. New Zealand is very well positioned to be globally competitive. We just need to think outside our comfort zone, think bigger and have a mind-set that anything is achievable if we set our minds to it.


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