Fostering Opportunity: Meet Lada Rasochova

As both a business pioneer and student ally of multiple titles, Lada Rasochova, Ph.D., MBA , executive director of the California Institute for Innovation and Development at Rady, was met with fanfare from a room of over 700 business leaders after the Rady School organization, mystartupXX ,which she co-directs, won the Athena San Diego Pinnacle Award. This prestigious award was given to the organization that best personifies Athena San Diego's mission of fostering the personal and professional growth of women through mentoring, education, recognition and leadership training.

"It was really great. We were shocked, surprised, and extremely grateful," said Rasochova. "It feels incredible to be recognized in the entire San Diego community. It was much like receiving an Academy Award, it was unreal and it solidified the real world impact of our organization."

The mystartupXX, which Rasochova co-directs with Rosibel Ochoa of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, began with a movie. After watching "The Social Network," a film about the beginnings of Facebook, Rasochova and Ochoa began a long discussion about the underrepresentation of females in the startup and tech industries. The mystartupXX aims to address the lack of female participation in technology startups and helps women pursue their dreams of starting innovative, scalable, technology-driven companies.

Alongside this venture, Rasochova also serves as the director of the StartR Accelerator at the Rady School. StartR is a six month-long acceleration program for Rady School students and alumni held twice a year on the Rady School's campus. The program is focused on mentorship and hands-on early stage company development.

"Very often Rady students want to continue with their startup ideas after graduation. They are looking for support but get denied from larger San Diego incubators such as EvoNexus because they are far too early and the competition is fierce," says Rasochova. "I am however happy to report that two teams from our inaugural StartR class, Skylit and Tab32, have just been accepted into the EvoNexus from more than a hundred applications. This has validated why StartR accelerator was created to begin with."

If two successful organizations weren't enough, Rasochova also serves as the managing director of the Rady Venture Fund, which she describes as "the other side of the table" in comparison to the StartR Accelerator and mystartupXX. Associated with the Venture Capital Management courses that Rasochova herself teaches, the Rady Venture Fund provides experiential learning for Rady MBA students in making investments in seed and early-stage companies.

Rasochova also directs the TriNet Challenge, an annual competition for students, staff, and faculty from the Rady School, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Jacobs School of Engineering, designed to bring environmentally-focused innovative ideas to market.  

The Rady Venture Fund, along with the TriNet Challenge, StartR and mystartupXX live under the umbrella of the CA Institute for Innovation and Development. "I really enjoy working with each of our students," says Rasochova. "I want to see them succeed in every way possible."

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