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WMU-Southwest Students Travel to California for Tech and Innovation Conference
Nov 30, 2016
WMU-Southwest Students Travel to California for Tech and Innovation Conference

BENTON HARBOR, Mich.—Recently, four students from WMU-Southwest traveled to San Francisco, California for the Lean Startup conference. The conference is a seven-day immersion into technology and innovation methodology led by technology practitioners and entrepreneurs from government agencies, international corporations, start-ups, and civic organizations from around the world.

WMU business administration students Paul Bair, Amy June Jovanovic, Sarrah Watkins, and Ashley Rodriguez are full-time employees at Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool Corporation. They attended keynote talks, interactive workshops, speed mentoring, industry dinners, boot camps, and start-up tours at the conference.

“I was fortunate to listen to David Nuhill, founder of FunnyBizz, and learn a great lesson about humor and what to do when things go wrong in a presentation,” said Bair. “Podcast and YouTube videos are great, but listening to the speakers in person in an entrepreneurial atmosphere is completely different.”

The students attended presentations from speakers to discuss innovation, entrepreneurship and business topics. Some stand out speakers were Guy Kawasaki, chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool and member of the Wikimedia Foundation board of trustees; and Caterina Rizzi, found of Breather, a company that facilitates transactions between consumers and people renting out livable space. A full list of notable speakers can be found at

“Even though I work for Whirlpool Corporation, a large global manufacturer of home appliances, it was still a start-up in 1911 with two brothers who had a vision,” said Jovanovic. “That entrepreneurship spirit still flows through the company and attending this conference was valuable. It taught me that innovation and entrepreneurship can create efficiency through disruptive transformation and bring about revolutionary change.”

Photo 1: Pictured (left-right) WMU-Southwest business administration students Sarrah Watkins, Ashley Rodriguez, Amy June Jovanovic and Paul Bair attended the Lean Startup conference in San Francisco, California.