BASES Q&A: ANDREA SY AND BRANDON GARCIA

With the end of fall quarter nearing, the Branding Team sat down with Co-Presidents of BASES Andrea and Brandon to talk about their time at BASES and their upcoming goals for the year.

Tell us a little about your time at BASES.

Andrea Sy (AS): I joined BASES my freshman through the Freshman Battalion program, became VP of Social Entrepreneurship the next year, switched to VP of Business Development my junior year, and am currently Co-President. When I first joined BASES, I really appreciated the opportunity to talk to and develop relationships with amazing upperclassmen who were so willing to share advice from their personal experience with entrepreneurship to their favorite hangouts on campus.

My time as VP of Social-E and BD helped sharpen my focus and clarify what several passions of time. I realized that I loved building teams and working with people. One of my key focuses as VP was working with people and figuring out the best way to motivate and inspire people. On the other hand, BASES also gave me access to a lot of start-ups in different fields—talking to them helped shape my interest in tech industry. I realized I was interested in data science and want to leverage existing technology to help developing nations. As an international student from the Philippines, it’s amazing to see the power of innovation in the Silicon Valley. I hope to be able to bring that to the Philippines as well.

Brandon Garcia (BG): I joined BASES at the end of my freshman year and was an officer on the Product Showcase team, previously one of the three teams comprising BASES Challenge, before moving to the VP position in my junior year. These roles really opened up my eyes to the tech industry and exploded my network in the Valley. I met some truly inspiring individuals—directly and indirectly through BASES—that solidified my interest and desire to get involved in the entrepreneurship space.

The leadership opportunity is truly one that is unparalleled on campus. It presents a nearly risk-free environment for learning everything from recruiting and building a team to managing enormous budgets to executing under pressure from the clock, large audiences and elite members of worldwide entrepreneurial community.

Being so immersed in this organization has helped me realize that I one day want to continue providing entrepreneurship education and support to young innovators in the future. I hope to one day return to my hometown, Miami, FL, and help grow the very young, immature startup ecosystem.

Why did you want to run for BASES co-president?

AS: When we were thinking about BASES co-president, we thought about our experience with BASES; what parts we loved about BASES; how our experience in BASES transformed us not just as individuals, but also as professionals; how we can bring BASES to the level to not just bring the same experience but see what else is new and happening in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

BG: There are very few people who are given the chance to lead an organization as complex, developed, and large as the BASES Team. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to learn from each and every BASES member and affiliate.

When Andrea and I were thinking about running, we thought about how much BASES had already given us and how it continues to teach us about ourselves each and every day. We’re excited to give back to the group and help our members and the surrounding community get even more out of the organization than we do!

What is your vision for BASES next year?

BG: BASES’s mission is to empower student entrepreneurs, starting with our members and extending to the Stanford community and beyond. Every single one of our teams helps cultivate a host of necessary skills for becoming a successful entrepreneur.
This year, however, we’re putting a strong emphasis on streamlining our organization and providing infrastructure for professionally developing our members.

AS: [In terms of campus outreach,] we want to talk to the student body—what do they want to see in terms of entrepreneurship, instead of figuring out what events students want to be involved in. It’s great that there are a lot of companies in the Bay Area, but not everything is in line with student interests.

What are some issue you faced in the past?

AS: Alex and John [the past presidents] built a strong team and a strong foundation with streamlining the organization, and we want to continue with that.

BG: One of the issues we faced had been lack of documentation and transparency. All of our teams’ operations are visible to the entire organization through access to meeting minutes, planning documents, financials, and contact lists.

What about professionally developing the BASES members?

AS: We wanted to make sure we could provide the highest quality resources for our members. We also made sure we had the most dedicated qualified people in our team, cutting the size of BASES from 100 to 70 or 80 members.

BG: Another issue [we faced in the past was] that BASES members are less of entrepreneurs and more of event planners. This year, we’re highly focused on the professional development of our members. We seek to give each officer a high responsibility role where they can truly own and innovate an aspect of BASES. Additionally, we’ve put together a year long professional development program that will teach our members about identifying a customer need, accurately defining the problem, composing a viable solution, and iterating prototypes to create a customer driven product. The program will kick off with our BASES Bus Startup Tour and feature VCs, entrepreneurs and product experts as workshop leaders during each of our sessions.

What are you most excited about in BASES this fall?

BG: Our professional development program. We’ve worked with lots of different entrepreneurs and investors this summer to put together a year long program that will help our members understand and develop the skills they need to identify a problem or need in the market and build a customer-driven solutions. We’ll be kicking off our program with BASES Bus. We’ll be taking a bus full of our members around the Bay as we attend talks and workshops at Twitter, Rothenberg Ventures, and HealthTap.

AS: Frosh Battalion. I’m really excited to get new lifeblood into BASES. These freshmen are going to be the future of BASES, the VPs, presidents—I started off in Frosh Battalion as well. It’s going to be fun sharing entrepreneurial know-how to freshmen, since they’re always so eager and happy to learn everything.

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