The opportunities at Hiram College are endless, and Computer Science Major Nicola Pedretti ’16, of Gordona, Italy, has taken full advantage of them. Pedretti recently had the chance to travel to Chicago on behalf of the Center for Integrated Entrepreneurship, as part of ThinkChicago: Chicago Ideas Week.
ThinkChicago, which took place Oct. 16-18, 2014, brought together students passionate about the field of technology and innovation, to learn from and about innovators and difference makers in the field. Pedretti was able to be part of this experience with the help of the Center for Integrated Entrepreneurship’s grant from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation. He was one of only 150 students from the Midwest selected, after undergoing a highly competitive application process.
Pedretti said the conference gave him a chance to refine and explore an original idea of his – Eventit – which he first pitched at ideablitz! 2013 (under the name “What’s Good?”). The idea earned him first place at ideablitz!, and he was one of ten students selected to present his idea at ThinkChicago.
He said the trip opened his eyes, as he starts to think about how to move forward with his idea.
“I realized what I was doing wrong and what I was doing right in many different occasions during this trip,” he said. “I’d say the word ‘realization’ best described the experience.”
In addition to presenting his idea on a large stage, he had the opportunity to meet with entrepreneurs like Shahid Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars and 122nd on Forbes’ list of the 400 richest Americans and Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal.
“It was very inspiring seeing so many successful people that worked hard to get where they are,” Pedretti said.
He also learned a lot about society’s current problems, and hearing about these things further pushed him toward what he should be studying in order to find solutions. Meeting representatives from high-profile companies allowed him to build connections that he can use in the future when looking for a job. At ThinkChicago, it “taught him how to think,” in relation to the tech world, said Kay Molkentin, director of the Center for Integrated Entrepreneurship, who caught up with Pedretti following his return.