Students learn from innovative minds in the 4th Annual Art of Innovation Conference


Business students Frank Smith (center) and Mathias Saestad (right) speak with panelist Tim Leake (left) at the 4th Annual Art of Innovation Conference at CSUN on Friday. Both Smith and Saestad agree the conference is a great learning experience and a way to network for potential internships. Photo credit: Arpy Zargarian

Han Byol Yi

What seemed like professors ready to give a lecture, was actually a group of innovative minds from tech companies who wanted to share stories of their success and past failure, at the 4th Annual Art of Innovation Conference on Friday.

“I have this awesome app idea. I came here to learn what to do next. One of the panelists might have the key to success,” said Mehrdad Azimi, a junior, business marketing major.

Vijay Bhatt, co-founder, and CTO of eContek said without hesitation he started two companies that failed. His third company, eContek, was finally the one that turned profitable. Bhatt spoke openly to students on what he learned from it.

Other panelists such as Nick DeMartino, a consultant for media and technology, and Tim Leake, business consultant of 20 years, chimed in to reassure students that this is “just what happens.”

Panelists discussed that failure does not always equal time wasted. They reiterated the crucial learning process that takes place from those failures.

DeMartino said, that “Failure decreases the likelihood for failure on your next idea.”

Leake spoke about the paradigm shift in the business world. He explained that it isn’t about good ideas anymore. “Everyone has good ideas,” Leake said. “Now it’s about if you can bring those ideas to life, and if you can’t do it yourself, find someone who can.”

Information Systems alumni, Ash Sobhe, was also at the event to learn even though he has already reached, what many would call, success as CEO of an online marketing company, R6S.

A fourth-year business management student, David Lim, says coming to this event was very motivational.

“You have to be uncomfortable at times to be successful. If you want to work on giving better speeches, join an improv class. Do what it takes to grow,”

Rarity Lemons, a senior in deaf studies, says she learned that collaboration and a passion for change could be the key to her success.

“Yes, I am a deaf studies major. I’m here because business and innovation is applicable to all fields,” said Lemons.

After the event, Azimi said he is now motivated to experiment with his app idea. “I need to just do it, get out there and try,” he said.