The Asha Saxena Prize

The Asha Saxena Prize for Entrepreneurship

A Letter by Asha Saxena

The Asha Saxena Prize for Entrepreneurship is to promote the entrepreneurial mindset, encourage start-ups in the field of healthcare and create the platform for Columbia University community to participate annually for the pitch competition to win the prize.

The meaning of Entrepreneurship to me is freedom, creativity, passion and most importantly, impact. Work and life should be a combination of all four to live a fulfilling life. Entrepreneurship gave me all that and more.

I went to school to be an engineer and pursue a traditional professional career. Being an entrepreneur was originally not in the cards when I went to work. I worked

hard, but I couldn't stop thinking that I was building their dream. Luckily, I found a mentor in my manager, Steve Fleischner, who believed in me and encouraged me to take the steps necessary to build my own dream. I experienced the freedom to create, execute, and deliver on my vision by building my first company in data management consulting. The entrepreneurial journey had started.

I realized the power of passion and creativity that I could express as an entrepreneur, I could never express as an employee. I stumbled, struggled, failed multiple times, but got up and started again. They say success as an entrepreneur is a test of one's perseverance, dedication, adaptability, and belief. The sole hope in the venture being pursued. The ultimate optimism to survive.

A successful entrepreneur needs the vision, passion, perseverance but also the discipline to study the field of entrepreneurship and become a lifelong learner. In addition to the hard lessons learned through work and personal experience, a grounding in academics will allow them to achieve their full potential. Navigating the path to success means learning from failures and successes, but it also takes being thorough in the foundations of your chosen field.

I am honored to be a professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. I have the privilege of teaching entrepreneurship to brilliant, dedicated, and driven graduate students. With this prize, I hope to add a spark for students to participate, refine their concept and pitch, and take that forward to change the world. My wish for each of you is that through your entrepreneurial journeys, you never lose sight of, and be
guided by, the impact you can and will create while being an entrepreneur.

Never forget, the biggest blessing as an entrepreneurial leader is to create an impact by building a compassionate driven organization while you are creating a unique value-added solution to make the world a better place. Being an entrepreneur is a blessing and a huge responsibility. May you always hold this responsibility in gratitude, utmost respect, and as a privilege as you succeed and pay forward.

Asha Saxena