Since its establishment, the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute has built a community that caters to creation and connection. Sathya Vijayakumar embodies these traits; as a healthcare expert and entrepreneurial guide, she mentors student entrepreneurs through her knowledge and network. Vijayakumar feels grateful for the years she has spent at Lassonde and cherishes her continued involvement with student entrepreneurs.
Beginning as a student herself, Vijayakumar came to the University of Utah pursuing research in radiology. While studying electrical engineering she met executive director Troy D’Ambrosio, who encouraged her to pursue entrepreneurship. “Troy is amazing, he is so knowledgeable and wise,” she said. “I feel like the institute as a whole is welcoming of new ideas, so nurturing to young entrepreneurs and willing to try everything out.” Vijayakumar’s initial involvement with Lassonde gave her an intimate relationship with its mission to provide students with transformative experiences through entrepreneurship.
Vijayakumar returned to Lassonde seven years later, in conjunction with the MBA program at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business. Vijayakumar participated in healthcare internships that focused on increasing efficiency and quality in healthcare. Through Lassonde’s support and while participating in the Lassonde New Venture Development Center, she co-founded a startup called Atrispec — an algorithm that identifies risk of atrial fibrillation from ECG recordings. Her experience within her own startup has influenced her perception of entrepreneurship as multi-faceted.
Vijayakumar seeks mastery within her field through immersive leadership and currently serves as a clinical operations manager at Intermountain Healthcare. Vijayakumar feels enthusiastic about advising students as a mentor and/or judge for competitions conducted by Lassonde like Opportunity Quest and the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge. “I graduated from the U in 2013,” she said. “I could have just been forgotten, but Troy D’Ambrosio and Anne Bastien made sure to bring me back because I hold expertise in the healthcare realm that other people don’t have. I love that the institute features people from many fields and bridges knowledge gaps.”
Vijayakumar feels drawn to the energy of Lassonde’s programming and the diversity of student entrepreneurs. “I keep coming back because of all these new connections I can make,” she said. “I’m so focused in my daily life on healthcare and the latest and greatest there, but when I come into Lassonde I see people from the textile industry, engineering, printing, painting—it’s amazing.” Vijayakumar has learned more about entrepreneurship through her mentorship. “Being involved with the institute, meeting people, reviewing ideas — it opens your mind to really thinking through the different steps of entrepreneurship,” she commented.
Lassonde’s vital role in her development provides an example to students how networking, utilizing resources, and thoughtful planning can transform an idea into an enterprise. When advising entrepreneurs, Vijayakumar emphasizes the importance of conceptualizing your endeavor from production to consumption. “Whenever you think of an idea, you have to think about your end-user,” she said. “It may be a phenomenal idea that no one has ever done before — but in the end it boils down to: how is it adding value to someone who might use it? That’s where practicality comes into play.”
As an executive in healthcare, Vijayakumar recognizes her journey from student to expert as a result of connections. She recommended searching for a person with expertise in the area that you are pursuing and asking them for their insight. “Connect with the right people,” she said. “If you are working on a product, get the right subject matter expert involved. Make sure that there is a market for it, because as brilliant as it may seem—if nobody wants to use it, that doesn’t matter.”