EOY Intern’s CEO Retreat Review 2017 – Sarah’s Blog (Part 3/3)

After an exciting morning in Singularity, our next section on the itinerary was a visit to Airbnb’s HQ. The group were welcomed by Airbnb’s Leadership Coach Renn Vara and his colleagues Sarah Murphy and David O’Neill who spoke to the group about Airbnb’s journey with regards to the concept of a sharing economy, disrupting the accommodation market globally and in particular its Irish experience. Then small groups went on tours of Airbnb while Renn, Sarah and David opened up the floor to questions – of which there were plenty! On the quick tour it became clear that this was an open, fun, and collaborative space where meeting rooms represent Airbnbs from around the world; popcorn and healthy snacks are provided in the employee kitchen, and the highlight – an open central atrium with a ‘green living wall’! Next up was a panel discussion led by our own Kevin McLoughlin with Sean O’Sullivan, Managing Partner of SOSV and Paul Steinberg, Chief Business Officer of Carma. They elaborated on the concept of a sharing economy – what it means to them, why they believe it is popular and the legal issues that come with the nature of this business model.

In the evening the group, all clad in our EOY jackets, took a boat out to Alcatraz Island for a private tour of the former federal prison. The jackets, custom made for the group, certainly added to the growing sense of comradery. To add to the atmosphere of Alcatraz, the island was covered in a thick fog as we approached it. We were welcomed by Ranger John Cantwell and then all split into groups to explore parts of the prison that are normally not open to the general public. As we were finishing up, the fog started to clear and we had a beautiful view of the city in front of us as the sun set. To wrap up an action packed day the group relaxed with a few pizzas and pitches back on the mainland.

The first company visit on Thursday was to IndieBio and HAX who kindly hosted us for breakfast. Sean O’Sullivan, who participated in the panel discussion in Airbnb, welcomed the group, spoke about his entrepreneurial journey; the start-ups he is involved with; and how his company SOSV is linked with IndieBio and HAX. Then the group went on a tour of the office which is a converted warehouse and a shared co-working space which includes a biotech lab. Next up was Cyril Ebersweiler, Venture Partner at SOSV and Founder of HAX; and Alex Kopelyan, Program Manager at IndieBio; who both spoke separately and gave a more detailed background on their respective companies. This lead into a life science panel discussion moderated by our own Aidan Meagher with Isaac Bright (CEO of Medicatrix Consulting), Andy Ramelmeier (SVP of Technical Operations Biologics at Portola Pharmaceuticals), and Sarah Bodary (Strategic Business and Drug Development Advisor at Darwin Bodary Consulting).

In the afternoon we visited PCH, where we were hosted for lunch. The reception area; an impressive large open space, opened up onto a lovely courtyard so everyone was able to enjoy the sunshine whilst having lunch. Liam Casey, CEO and Founder of PCH, kicked off the afternoon session, by giving a quick background to PCH. Christian Schluender, General Manager of Lime Lab gave the group an insight into Lime Lab (the design engineering arm of PCH) and design management. This lead into an engaging panel discussion on company innovation led by our own Sean Duffy, with Barry O’Brien who welcomed us on Sunday, Gareth Keane of Qualcomm Ventures, Jacob Mullins of Shasta Ventures, Seth Rosenberg of Greylock, and Adam D’Augelli of True Ventures.

Brady Forrest then spoke about Highway 1 (a hardware start-up accelerator); after which the group were treated to a few of its start-up pitches. The highlight for the group was James Foody, a 26-year old from Sligo, who founded Thalman Health which has developed a system for remotely monitoring at-risk patients.

Next up was a fireside chat between our own Roger Wallace and David Lam of Atlantic Bridge who continued on the theme of the day, of venture capital and investment. To wrap up a jam packed day we split into two groups and did a tour of Lime Lab and Highway 1.

We spent the evening in AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, which was rented out for the group. Everyone either did a tour or some batting practice, then we all gathered on the steps of the stadium to watch a surprise video montage of our week so far. Another surprise awaiting everyone was a Giants baseball with the EOY branding on it – a keepsake for attendees from their time on the Retreat and to celebrate the 20th year of EOY in Ireland. During dinner we had pitches from some more of the finalists along with a welcome from Stephen Revetria, SVP of the Giants Enterprises – the entrepreneurial arm of the SF Giants.

On our last official day we headed off to Stanford Research Institution (SRI) International where we were welcomed by the President of SRI, Steven Ciesinki. We then heard from Dr. Anita Sands who tapped into our theme of ‘Leading Through Change’. Anita blew the room away and everyone was hanging on her every word. A hard act to follow, but Jonathan Reichental, CIO of Palo Alto, stepped up to the challenge. He spoke to the group on the future of cities and how they may need to adapt and change. Next up was a panel discussion from the Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG) moderated by John Hartnett, CEO of SVG and President of ITLG, with four of the top 50 leaders of ITLG including: Margaret Burgraff, VP at Intel; Dave Burke, VP Engineering (Android) at Google; and Niall Wall, SVP of BD and Platform Sales at Box. This discussion focused on disruption in technology. To finish off the morning session; Jim Marggraff , Founder of EyeFluence and Director of Product Management at Google, spoke to us about his entrepreneurial journey including being named EY Northern California Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011.

After another lunch enjoyed in the Californian sunshine, our day was wrapped up by Csaba Szabo, Senior BD Manager at SRI International, with a session on Driving Innovation.

For our final evening of the trip the group went for dinner on a boat cruise around San Francisco Bay. It was the ideal way to finish off the week – the views were the perfect backdrop for a few final photographs with everyone. The weather fully cooperated, so everyone could see the skyline of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, we even managed to see a whale! We were accompanied on the cruise by Dr. Anita Sands; and Kailesh Karavadra, Managing Partner of EY’s San Jose office who spoke to the group before dinner along with the last few pitches from our finalists. Kevin and Sean wrapped up the night, thanking everyone involved in the organisation of the Retreat. Then it was time to move on to the ‘surprise venue’ which turned out to be a Speakeasy rented out for our personal use, the perfect way to finish off a brilliant week.

The next day everyone had some much needed free time to spend as they wished. After a final group lunch and goodbyes, everyone loaded onto the buses for the airport. I could not believe such an amazing week had come to an end. I am so grateful to the EOY team who gave me the opportunity to attend the Retreat. I feel I have learned loads and gained some invaluable advice from the speakers, entrepreneurs and the team, which I never would have learned while in lectures in college!

By: admin

Category: Uncategorized