A retrospective

For me, one of the biggest takeaways this summer is of the strength of the Duke community in Silicon Valley, and I wanted to take this last post as an opportunity to thank the many people who have taken time out of their busy lives to speak with and counsel me and Jacob.**

First off, finding a home at Dogpatch would not have been possible without the generosity of Ryan Spoon, nor would it have been possible without the time put in by Shea Di Donna, David Heaney, Matt Koidin, and Howie Rhee to develop a curriculum and find funding. I’m sure I’m missing many others who made this program possible in the background. The depth and breadth of the speakers first made it hard to believe that this program is just in its first year and second demonstrates that Duke is well-represented 2500 miles away from home.

While here, we received valuable counsel from Jason Langheier, CEO of Zipongo; Steven Pal, BabyCenter’s web development intern (make no mistake – he was intern in name only) in the early 90s; Yoni Riemer at E La Carte; and Natasha Pecor of Freestyle Capital; and of course Matt, David, Shea, and Ryan as well as the many people they connected us to. Despite their other commitments, these people welcomed us with their arms wide open and provided diligent counsel; their generosity was frankly shocking to me.

And of course, thank you to all of the speakers who volunteered their time and shared their wisdom and experiences and lessons learned.

Last but not least, I want to thank my colleagues – and indeed, friends – in both the DSVIP and DEC program. Special thanks go to Kevin Fishner, who I vividly remember offering to brainstorm with me when all I could come up with for a particular slide deck was to have a picture of a cute baby on the cover; Veronica Ray, who helped keep me sane and provided valuable expertise when my AdWords and landing page campaigns didn’t go quite as I’d envisioned; Brian Antigua, who reminded me that I was getting fat while he was doing Insanity; and Cole Vertikoff, who is on the quest to help me be a better friend.

Much of the strength of Duke University lies in its alumni: people who dream and who work (and who succeed because they dreamed and worked). They create the opportunities for future generations of Dukies to test their mettle.

**While I have attempted to be exhaustive with this list, recollection is often an imperfect guide, so please email me at xiaoyang.zhuang@duke.edu if I’ve inadvertently left your name out.

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