Sargon Jacob, ’16 Management Information Systems, is hoping to turn his experience as an SJSU student into a business opportunity. He is working with software engineering students to develop an application to help undergraduates pick courses and stay on track for a timely graduation.
Jacob’s entered his startup project – an interactive academic scheduling tool to help students choose courses and plan their path to graduation – into the Entrepreneurs’ Organization Global Student Entrepreneur Award (GSEA) for the Northern California Region in February. After winning the regional competition, Jacob flew to Miami to compete in the GSEA United States National Finals in March. He was one of 24 finalists to compete.
“The GSEA Silicon Valley Regional competition was useful in connecting me with successful startup founders within the Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs’ Organization network,” Jacob said. “At the national event, the greatest benefit was learning from and exchanging ideas with other top student entrepreneurs in the country.”
Jacob’s application includes a scheduler and a planner component that he says offers an interactive interface with a single page view that more accurately matches student behavior than other existing applications.
“It was a combination of recognizing an issue that I and many of my peers struggle with every semester at SJSU – finding and picking appropriate classes,” Jacob said, noting that it also allowed him to utilize methodologies, ideas and creative practices he learned from business professors.
Jacob developed a business strategy for his plan in the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business Venture Lab course. The chair of his department, Dr. Tim Hill, his academic advisor Darlene Guerrero and lecturer Richard Sessions supported his efforts. Jacob is currently working with a team of software engineering students including Sarmad Syed, Jordan Peterson and Lisa Efrid. Ishie Eswar, a lecturer in software engineering, introduced Jacob to the engineering students whom Eswar advises.
The Venture Lab course allows students to develop and test ideas for a new enterprise, according to Dr. Anuradha Basu, a professor of entrepreneurship and the director of the Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship in the College of Business.
“By the end of the course, they are expected to have completed a prototype and be able to demonstrate the business opportunity,” Basu said.
She said Jacob received an award for his idea at the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge in 2014 and professors encouraged him to enroll in the Venture Lab course.
“Venture Lab was very helpful in providing the skeletal fiber of transforming ideas into a business,” Jacob said. “I also found the presentation skills from the course beneficial during competition.”