This combination of engineering and business knowledge made Teckchandani the perfect fit to become the first Entrepreneur in Residence at the College of Engineering & Computer Science. “The engineering and computer science students at Cal State Fullerton are very strong technically and have lots of great ideas,” says Teckchandani. “Where they often need guidance is in taking those ideas and turning them into a successful product or business.”
Teckchandani regularly holds office hours and offers workshops for ECS students to teach them concepts like design thinking and strategies such as the lean startup method. He asks students to think through different aspects of building a business – for example: who their competition is and how they will differentiate themselves, what their revenue streams will be, and how they will attract customers.
“My goal is to help foster the kind of thinking that will help our students create and improve products and services, grow businesses, and excel in their careers – whether they end up being entrepreneurs or not.”
Atul Teckchandani | ECS Entrepreneur in Residence
“One of the most important things I impress on the students is the need to involve customers from the beginning,” says Teckchandani. “You may think you have a great idea, but you never really know how people will respond until you ask them. Talking to potential customers and getting a sense of what they want helps you refine your product and business model, and helps you avoid costly mistakes.”
While not every engineering or computer science student is necessarily interested in starting their own business, the skills that Teckchandani teaches can be equally valuable to someone who wants to be part of a larger company, and move up through the ranks.
“You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to have an entrepreneurial mindset,” he says. “My goal is to help foster the kind of thinking that will help our students create and improve products and services, grow businesses, and excel in their careers – whether they end up being entrepreneurs or not.”
Responding to student demand, Teckchandani is working to get two of the entrepreneurship courses at the business school cross-listed, at least one of which ECS students will be able to take for credit as part of their major. “ECS students have rigorous schedules,” says Teckchandani. “I want to make it as easy as possible for them to gain exposure to concepts and problem-solving techniques that will help them take full advantage of their technical skills.”
The Entrepreneur in Residence program is funded through private donations. The program launched this year, in part, due to the generous donations of ECS College Leadership Council Chair Kevin Carnino and support from Dean Susan Barua. Through increased support the college will be able to offer more programming and support additional student projects.