Virtual Training Camp Diaries: Nirav Patel

Hi! My name is Nirav Patel, a 2020 Fellow from Tennessee and a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. I remember the first time I heard the word entrepreneur: Iron Man’s Wikipedia page. It seemed like entrepreneurs were the real life superheroes. I wanted to be a superhero. After four years of failures and confusions in college, I’m glad that I found Venture For America – the ultimate superhero factory! VFA’s secret sauce is the intensive Training Camp which molds us into creative innovators who are ready to change the world.

Today is July 12, 2020. The end of the first week of Training Camp.

Last week was pretty intense. We had a chance to impact a real business by developing a website for them in 24 hours. I am happy to report that we did it! We could see the glow in our client’s eyes when they saw the website. It was the best feeling in the world.

Today is July 13, 2020. The beginning of the second week of Training Camp.

I have a feeling this week will be more intense. We have to create a prototype of a product or service that creates opportunity in the cleaning economy by following design thinking principles. We start off the day with product design lessons from IDEO – the world’s premier design consultancy. I try to furiously write down every word that comes out of their mouth as they drop nuggets of knowledge. I love their principle that creativity is a learned behavior.

Today is July 16, 2020. We are already halfway through Training Camp.

Wow! It has been an intense week of customer interviews, brainstorming, and product development. We got a chance to hear from inspiring founders who have walked the talk and created success. We received a powerful walkthrough on public speaking by Eleni Kelakos who energized me more than coffee ever did.

While the programming has been enlightening, the community has been the most rewarding. The one-on-one breakout rooms, the vibrant Zoom chats, the Credo stories, the challenge teams, the Goal-Setting Groups, the racial and socioeconomic inequality discussions, the meditation groups – all of these experiences have shown me that I’m in the right place. I’m ready to be further inspired by Fellow stories of adversity as we finish off the next two weeks.

I want to give a huge shout out to the magicians’ behind this whole experience: the VFA Team. They work tirelessly to develop a strong virtual community, fix every technical issue, design programs, and answer all of our questions. I know I’ll be ready to provide value at a startup because of them. For now, it’s time to create a prototype with an iron, an upholstery bristle, and a mask.

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