Profile: Samantha Chandra, Co-Internal Vice President of Bruin Entrepreneurs

Samantha Chandra, a third year Business Economics major, talks about Bruin Entrepreneurs, a campus club that gives aspiring entrepreneurs at UCLA a way to kick start their journey.

Her Campus: What is Bruin Entrepreneurs (BE)?

Samantha Chandra: BE provides a community and resources for all entrepreneurs at UCLA in different levels of their journey. For starters, we provide beginner-level events like workshops and the 1000 Pitches competition. For those further along their entrepreneurship journey, we have Startup Labs, Summer Accelerator and Fellowship in which those who applied will be placed into a startup for the summer. For anyone simply interested in entrepreneurship, we have general weekly meetings and events that they can attend. Our focus this year is to build a community for these people to learn more about entrepreneurship and to find their people.

HC: How did you first get involved in BE?

SC: I came into college wanting to pursue entrepreneurship because I want to own my own business one day. After searching for entrepreneurship classes at UCLA and not being able to find any, I looked for entrepreneurship clubs and found BE. They were recruiting new board members at the time so I immediately applied for a board position because I knew that having a bigger role makes it easier for me to commit to something. Thankfully, I earned an intern position in the partnerships team where my role was mainly to find sponsors and build partnerships with external parties. After a year, I became Partnerships Director, and today, I am Co-Internal Vice President.

HC: What are your responsibilities as Co-Internal Vice President (Co-IVP) of BE?

SC: As the club became bigger and the number of teams within the club grew, the roles within BE became more complicated. As Co-IVP, I figure out how to structure the club well so the role of the teams don’t overlap but work cohesively. I oversee responsibilities and make sure each team is doing their job. A lot of the times, once a project wraps up, it is easy for members to feel lost and not know what to do. I keep everyone busy and sure of what to do. I also oversee internal projects like retreat and our website.

HC: How has BE impacted you?

SC: BE was my first real exposure to entrepreneurship. By talking to the people in BE, I learned about business concepts I did not previously know about, such as venture capitalists, series A and B fundings, etc. I also gained a new mentality of what entrepreneurship is. Entrepreneurship isn’t just about making money, like buying something at a cheap price and selling it at a higher profit margin in another platform. Entrepreneurship is about solving real life problems.

HC: What is the most important lesson you have learned from being in BE?

SC: I learned that ideas can come from anywhere! By ideating workshops, competitions and events like Designaton, I learned that it is actually so easy to come up with an idea. For example, in the 1000 Pitches competition, we were just prompting random students at UCLA about what problems they see around them and how they can solve this problem through entrepreneurship. Some of them ended up as finalists in the competition! On a more technical side, I gained a lot of operational skills through BE. Trying to manage people, organize events with limited resources, work in a team... running BE is almost like running my own startup. It does not matter if you sit and plan really well if you don’t execute.

HC: What has been your favorite memory in BE so far?

SC: Definitely the people! For winter retreat of my sophomore year, the BE board went to Lake Arrowhead. It was a nice way to bond with the board members because we have such a big board. Running 1000 Pitches this year was really fun too. I really liked the premise of this competition because we engaged the whole student body by giving them the chance to adopt an entrepreneur’s mentality. We motivated them to think about their own ideas and then gave them a platform and spotlight to talk about their ideas. It was really fulfilling to see them grow with their ideas.

HC: What are the benefits of joining BE and how can one get involved?

SC: If you are trying to figure out what entrepreneurship is without being so committed, BE is a great place to start. There is such a low barrier to entry. All you have to do is sign up to be a general member and sign up for our weekly newsletter. Our general meetings are every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and attendance isn’t taken. In our general meetings, we have something different planned every week. It could be a workshop, a speaker, an introduction from a BE member with specific skills in entrepreneurship, etc. If you want to be more involved, we have other programs like Startup Labs, Designaton (a Hackathon for designers), and Summer Fellowship too. We also have startup tours and many social events!

HC: Any advice for college students who are aspiring entrepreneurs?

SC: I think one of the most relevant pieces of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to not be intimidated if you don’t know anything about tech. I’ve met a lot of people who get discouraged because they “don’t have any technical skills." We have to remind ourselves that entrepreneurship is about setting up your own initiative whether it is via tech or not. It just so happens that most funded startups are tech-related because they are so easy to scale. But if you want to do something else, it does not mean that it isn’t a startup or that you can’t be an entrepreneur. Just don’t be intimidated!