Learning Between the Lines at Stanford Biodesign

The Stanford India Biodesign Group was asked about their key non academic learnings at Stanford during their first half of the program and this is what they had to say..


Avijit Bansal

Sleepless at Stanford

What are my takeaways from the Biodesign Fellowship? I wish I had the space to jot it all down. But that would be a book, not a blog. Alas the fellowship gives you little time to even marvelat all the awesomeness! It teaches you a thousand things andBiodesign is just one of them.


I quote because it is hard for me to summarize!“It’s like trying to drink from a fire hydrant!“It’s not about starting a company in June, it is about knowing yourself”.“It’s about not being afraid of failure, instead, considering it a badge of honor -a proof that you dared to try”.“And when you succeed, it is about checking ego at the door.

These are just few of the many memorable quotes  by Raj Doshi, JullianneGorodsky, Josh Makower and Alan Will respectively.

Indeed, the fellowship is about flat teams and steep growth curves. It’s about learning from people who stand tall, yet bow with humility. People who have made alpha wealth as a mere by-product of their passionatemissions.

At a dinner hosted by the legendary Dr. Rodney Perkins, several icons spoke and welcomed the global fellows. It was a great initiation. Tom Krummel, however spoke at the end and only for thirty seconds. His sheer earnestness spun a charm and moved us deeply. “Amidst the applaud and adulation, never forget what you are here for” he said.

Then, almost choking with emotion,exhorted: “DO SOMETHING MAGICAL.”

We won’t forget, Tom. We can’t.

This passion is what makes Stanford, what it is. This passion is what drives its students to change the shape of the world. Right now, this passion is what is giving us sleepless nights.It is what we’ll be taking home with us.

Ayesha Chaudhary

Yes, it has been more than 3 months that I have been a Stanfordite!

Each new day at Stanford seems like an intriguing exploration to me, coupled with a great learning experience. People at Stanford are like kaleidoscope designs with vibrant facets, where every wrench focuses on a different aspect of their dynamic personality. It has been an amazing experience to be surrounded by such smart, talented and yet so humble people.

Stanford has taught me what I call the “Art of Mix-ology”. “Observation + Knowledge + Design Engineering + Soft skill” make a perfect entrepreneurial drink. This unique entrepreneurial culture of Stanford has created waves of divergent thoughts in me.

One of the most significant take away is that networking is the key to success. And this networking requires a good command of soft skills, which can be learnt by observing others. Another one is prioritization of work and time. Each single day there is something interesting and enriching in the campus. So, it is important to ensure that time spent in an event is a gain over the others. Also, the magic of teamwork at Stanford is worth a mention. Doctors, engineers, designers and business people all work together and generate infinite ideas. All ideas are great, but not all teams can translate their ideas to reality.  It is only the right team that gives life to their ideas and finally creates the magic. Above all, both energy and passion drive people to work day and night at Stanford. And this Stanford enthusiasm has left me with several sleepless nights in these past three months.

Chinmay Deodhar

The most impressive non-academic experience at Biodesign program has been the learning from the great variety of successful entrepreneurs that we got to meet. Their example has been a very enriching experience. This includes a large number of soft skills that cannot be taught in classrooms per se, but can only be learned by observing those who are good at it.

Take emails for example. This appears such a simple task that we take it for granted. However, being able to leverage this technology to achieve one’s goals is by itself an art. The importance of promptness of email replies, crispness of the language, using email as a tool to connect with people, are all essential entrepreneurial skills I’ve learned here.

Networking is another example.  Here I learned how to go up to just about anybody, start a good conversation, and end with that person remembering you, and for good reasons! Every event brings together some of the rock-stars of entrepreneurship and the after-event networking session becomes an intense biz-card collection game. Introducing myself to as many people as possible has become so much ingrained in me, I’m almost tempted to reach out to just about anyone — even people on a flight or a bus for example!

Over the past 3 months, I can see how I have become much more systematic in engaging with people; looking ahead, I see a bright and exciting journey in the coming months and years.

Mridusmita Choudhury 

Coming to Stanford as a Biodesign Fellow was a dream come true.  I have always wanted to be a part of a program focused on asking new medical questions and developing devices, and here I landed in the best possible place!

My time at the Stanford has been a thrilling ride the whole time. From the first week, we were exposed to some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the Valley and some of the best business practices and innovation driven environments in the world.

The uniqueness of my time in Stanford has been the breadth of experiences. It is probably the only place in the world where you can get free advice from one of the most successful med tech entrepreneurs, have dessert with one of the foremost political activist/doctor in the world and go to class with a 20 something self made millionaire all in the same day!  Constantly being in the midst of the stalwarts of the med device industry and having mentors like Dr Paul Yock, and Dr Vinny Bhutani has been an amazing experience for all of us in terms of learning about the biodesign process, importance of humility in success and the openness to share knowledge and experiences.

Learning by example is truly the best sort of learning as exemplified here.

From the first day with Julian when we were asked to make “prototypes of ourselves”, we knew we were in for one extraordinary journey! Some of the best lessons for me has been the emphasis on interpersonal dynamics and self awareness at a program as highly competitive and intense as here. Another key learning was that learning is all about gaining latitude as well as longitude in knowledge as said by Dr Sakti Srivastava.

The highly contagious “can-do” atmosphere at Stanford is something I’ll always cherish and that’s a lifetime of learning in a little more than three months at Stanford for me!

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