Zips take on Silicon Valley to learn entrepreneurship best practices


It’s been said that it takes only one opportunity to change a life. A cohort of 25 students from The University of Akron look forward to testing that theory as they participate in a unique experience called “Zips in the Valley” from May 28 to June 1. Landing in the lush Silicon Valley of California, the Zips will explore some of the most famous brands on the planet to learn business and leadership skills.


Each day of the trip, students will attend interdisciplinary workshops on innovation, entrepreneurship and networking in the bustling tech industry. Between classes, the Zips will also visit the headquarters of a dozen of the country’s biggest names, including Stanford, NASA, Tesla and Google, observing entrepreneurship in action, as well as the campus of nearby Stanford University.

The itinerary also includes fun visits to other iconic locations in the Bay Area, such as the abandoned Alcatraz prison and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

“Zips in the Valley aims to understand, in a general way, how the Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial ecosystem works and to learn what the paths and tools used by the most successful countries in the world have been and are,” explains Kevin Smith, director of the College of Business Administration’s Institute for Leadership Advancement.zips-in-the-valley-logo

Students from various academic backgrounds, including business, art, biomimicry and others will take part in this unique opportunity. Not only will they visit iconic, entrepreneurial companies, but they will meet with some of the more than 25 UA alumni who work there. 

“This trip allows us to break down the walls and really take an innovative approach to learning,” said Smith. “It also prepares our students to think about their future and helps them to understand that jobs like these aren’t out of reach.”

To make the trip affordable to students, the institute raised more than $55,000 to cover expenses. Students were selected via faculty sponsorship or an application process, based on financial need, interest and merit. Each was then offered $2,000 to put toward travel expenses – leaving only a manageable $300 deposit and food costs.

The program is sponsored by the UA Institute for Leadership Advancement. In line with the program’s mission to provide experiential leadership training, the group is led by student leaders Austin Phillips, Sarah Antonelli and Dallas Clarke, who have advanced to the highest level of the institute’s development program.

Follow the students on Twitter at @ZipsInTheValley to see their journey in real time. More information on the program is available at Zips in the Valley.

About the Institute for Leadership Advancement

The Institute for Leadership Advancement offers The University of Akron’s only comprehensive academic and co-curricular leadership programs to students of all academic majors and interests. Established within the College of Business Administration in 2012 through a gift from The J.M. Smucker Company, the Institute for Leadership Advancement was envisioned to develop new leaders who will positively affect business for future generations.

Media contact: Cristine Boyd, 330-972-6476 or cboyd