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Technology and innovation are the focus of a new academic program in Silicon Valley
Technology and innovation are the focus of a new academic program in Silicon Valley


Enterprising alumni Tom Wang ’89, Jordan Savage ’03 and Will Mason ’08 are among the hosts who will be helping a group of students learn more about the start-up and business culture of the Bay Area when our first Technology and Innovation Program takes place March 11-15. Tom is the chief product officer at Turo, a San Francisco-based car-rental marketplace. Jordan is co-founder of Grove Collaborative, an Internet-based natural products seller.

The Tech and Innovation Program, new to the slate of Spring Break learning opportunities for students, is being coordinated by Director of Signature Programs Allison de Horsey and Director of the Merck-Horton Center for Teaching & Learning Tom Callahan (shown here with student participants Eva Killenberg ’17, Margaret Todd ’17, Yvette Zhu ’17, Mark Niu ’17, Sophie Coolidge ’18, Oasis Zhen ’17, Max Thomson ’18, Charlotte Maerov ’19 and Angel Yang ’18.)

The program is designed to build upon St. George’s newly redesigned curriculum, which emphasizes innovation and creative thinking and was launched two years ago with our SGx design-thinking initiative.

A full slate of meetings and activities in the Bay Area is planned to give students an inside look at how entrepreneurs create business plans and build their ideas into companies.

At Turo, Tom Wang ’89 will lead students through a series of 15-minute design sprints — product- and process-development exercises often used at start-ups to generate and examine new ideas. Tom says he hopes to show the students that “there are no barriers to change” and you can get something done quickly “by just doing it.”

Jordan Savage ’03 co-founded Grove Collaborative, which started as ePantry, a few years ago. Since then, the company has taken its eco-friendly household and personal-care product subscription service to the masses. Signing up for the service allows customers to pick their favorite natural products and set up a customized schedule for shipments. Jordan will talk to the students about the history, challenges and successes of the company.

On Tuesday, March 14, students will head to Palo Alto for a special meeting with two Stanford University professors. Professor Kathryn Segovia, who teaches at the, will lead a tour of the spaces there and discuss how teachers and college-student innovators use them. Allison and Head of School Eric Peterson have both participated in the’s unique summer design-thinking program. Stanford Professor Rob Siegel, who teaches at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and is a partner at XSeed Capital, will discuss venture capital and Silicon Valley economics.

Students will get an up-close look inside the headquarters of Google Inc. on Wednesday, with a tour and lunch with Kyra Vargas, a Stanford graduate who works in the company's sales and customer growth division. On Wednesday afternoon students will meet Ted Levinson, founder and CEO of Beneficial Returns, an impact debt fund that gives loans to international companies. The meeting will take place at a co-working space operated by UploadVR Inc., founded by Will Mason ’08. Will, who recently made Forbes magazine's list of "30 Under 30" innovators, founded his company with a partner to support the virtual-reality industry.

When they arrive in San Francisco March 11, the Tech and Innovation program participants will be welcomed to the city and have dinner with Barbara Barros and Matthew O’Haren, parents of Zoella Barros O’Haren ’20.

The trip concludes Wednesday evening, March 15, with an alumni reception at the Presidio Social Club, during which the students will get to meet alumni who live and work in the Bay area.