Entrepreneurship Symposium & Innovation Pitch Competition 2020 – Online Event

Entrepreneurship Symposium

Friday, June 5, 2020, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

If you are already registered for this online event, please download the Event Program here.

Hosted by San Francisco State University Lam Family College of Business, the third annual Entrepreneurship Symposium is part of the Lam-Larsen Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, funded by the Lam-Larsen Global Innovation Fund.

This event is also sponsored by MUFG Union Bank, and we thank them for their generous support.

This program is designed for budding entrepreneurs and early-stage startup founders seeking to develop stronger entrepreneurial skills and to build their network. Participants who are able to bring intellectual rigor, curiosity, and the drive to go out and apply what they learn in this program will see a successful transformation of themselves by the end of this event.

Keynote Topic

The Keynote Speaker, John Edson, who is an expert in product innovation, design and development, will give a talk on the evolution of design thinking and its importance to the long-term viability of a business.

Panel Discussion

Scalable Ethical Start-Ups: Companies that start with benign missions such as “do no evil” or develop green products often lose this focus as they scale in the pursuit of new markets, revenues and profits. Beyond the pressures of financial stakeholders, this is perhaps another facet of how technology and the networked nature of the world is allowing entrepreneurs to scale rapidly without the due reflection and diligence needed. This panel discussion will focus not only on the ethics of technology but also how we design and scale the business such that the ethical core endures.

Keynote Speaker

John Edson

John Edson

Principal, johnXdesign

John Edson is a global leader and expert in product innovation, design and development. He brings 28 years of experience delivering growth for executive-level clients to his firm, John by Design, where he helps organizations transform who they are and what they make.

Edson was previously a partner at McKinsey & Company where he helped establish one of the largest design teams in the world, building from zero to 400 design consultants in four years. While with McKinsey, Edson led engagements that delivered $500M in impact for clients by using design to identify massive new growth opportunities at the intersection of customer need and company capability. Edson was also a key contributor to the firm’s groundbreaking studies that irrefutably confirm the business value of design.

Prior to McKinsey, Edson led the award-winning innovation, design and development firm, LUNAR, for two decades—creating successful products and services for global leaders like Apple, HP, Cisco, Oral-B, and Philips. In 2015, LUNAR was recognized with the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for a body of work that has made considerable positive impact on people and society.

In 2012, Edson wrote Design Like Apple, Seven Principles for Creating Insanely Great Products, Services and Experiences (Wiley), a book translated into seven languages that makes the business case for great design through real world examples and experiences. Passionate about education, he is an adjunct at Stanford University where he teaches courses on design and innovation. Edson earned a master’s in design from Stanford in 1993 and a bachelor’s degree in engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.

When not leading design transformations, Edson can be found at the helm of Siduri on San Francisco Bay.

Program Objectives

  • Understand the history, evolution, and importance of design thinking in the product development lifecycle and in the long-term viability of a business
  • Learn about the ethics of technology and how to design and scale your business so that its ethical core endures
  • Learn how to manage limited resources to bootstrap a new business, allowing entrepreneurs to launch and grow through lean startup principals
  • Learn what it means to build a "sustainable business" and why it matters
  • Develop higher self-awareness of your attributes, capabilities and behaviors as a leader
  • Improve executive-level communication and decision-making skills
  • Create a “fundable” business plan or pitch


Friday, June 5, 2020, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.




Event Registration is closed.

The Innovation Pitch Competition

The Innovation Pitch Competition is designed for San Francisco State University students with a new business idea or startup. Students who submit an application to the Pitch Competition must be resourceful, resilient and mature, as well as be open to feedback and adapting to change.

Our Innovation Pitch Competition is a forum to share and discover new business ideas and startups. The deadline to submit your business idea to this pitch competition is Friday, May 8, 2020.

Students selected to pitch their ideas are welcomed to attend the Symposium free of charge to learn from our highly accomplished speakers and to hear pitches from other San Francisco State University student entrepeneurs.

Cash prizes totaling $10,000 will be awarded to the three winners of the Pitch Competition. These cash prizes are made possible through the generous support of our event sponsor, MUFG Union Bank, N.A.

Learn more about the Pitch Competition and how to submit your pitch application here.

Application Deadline: Friday, May 8, 2020


9 – 9:15 a.m. Welcome Remarks by Interim Dean Yim-Yu Wong

9:15 – 10 a.m.  Keynote Address on Design Thinking by John Edson, Principal, johnXdesign

10 – 10:15 a.m.  Keynote Speaker Q&A with Attendees

10:15 – 10:30 a.m.  Break

10:30 – 11:15 a.m.  Panel Discussion - Scalable Ethical Start-Ups - moderated by Minu Kumar

Panel Speakers:

11:15 – 11:45 a.m.  Panel Speakers Q&A with Attendees

11:45 a.m. – 1 p.m.  Lunch Break

1 – 3 p.m.  Innovation Pitch Competition Presentations

3 – 3:30 p.m.  Deliberations by Panel Judges:

3:30 – 3:45 p.m.  Winners Announced

  • Winners Announced by Benjamin Vanderford, VP, Relationship Manager, MUFG Union, N.A., with additional remarks from the other judges

3:45 – 4 p.m.  Final Remarks

Thank you to our event sponsor, MUFG Union Bank, N.A.

Union bank Logo