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Returning Summer Startup Incubator at SFCM Showcases Student Entrepreneurs

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The event's key guest speaker is Nicu Ahmadi, who works for as SVP of Global Ecosystems, and also serves on the LEAD Teaching Team at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

May 29, 2024 by Alex Heigl

SFCM's student entrepreneurs and their potential investors are coming together this week as part of the school's Incubator Week, spearheaded by the school's Professional Development and Engagement Center's Chair, Kristen Klehr. 

Kristen Klehr

Kristen Klehr (Credit: Shaina House)

"We have professional development coursework that covers musical startups, financial management, digital marketing, entertainment law, as well as professional development grants through SFCM, and one-on-one mentoring sessions with me," Klehr explains, "but if students have gone through all of that, they've more or less exhausted their resources during the academic year."

However, she adds, some students continue to develop their idea, and to fill the gap between what SFCM offers academically and the real world of startups, the Conservatory's Summer Startup Incubator was created. 

"We had three student companies last year," Klehr says, "and 10 this year. The students are going to do their own pitches and presentations and then I take them through a deep dive of building out a business model and some of the tools available to startups like the different software, programs, and other resources."

Nikki Ahmadi

Nikki Ahmadi.

Among those resources is guest speaker Nicu (Nikki) Ahmadi. Ahmadi holds a B.S. in computer engineering and an M.S. in electrical engineering, specializing on RF Communication & DSP. Currently working on her PhD in Interdisciplinary Engineering, Ahmadi's research focuses on the intersection of human-machine interaction, specifically covering adaptive emotional systems in human-machine interactions. (SFCM faculty and EBCP winner Jonathan Bingham will also be speaking.)

The week culminates in a pitch and demo day, which is open to the public, during which students take the leap of pitching their business idea and demoing it out. The week is also open to students who don't necessarily have a full-formed idea but want to learn more with an eye towards eventually launching their own concept or joining a team. 

Coffee shop—and now worldwide brand—Blue Bottle was founded by former SFCM clarinet student James Freeman. "There are future potential Blue Bottles being built here," Klehr said. "Isn't it great that we could see the next one possibly launch this summer?"

SFCM's Summer Startup 2024

Learn more about the Professional Development and Engagement Center at SFCM.