My First Semester at MIT Sloan


By Ryan Pijai

Here is a collection of highlights from the first semester of my full-time MBA program at MIT Sloan!

I’ve organized the highlights into 5 categories:

  • My Ocean
  • My Courses
  • My Core Team
  • Extracurriculars
  • Entrepreneurial Activities

I just played Go with a professional Go player!


This is definitely a lifetime highlight for me.

I was walking back from the gym and randomly ran into two professional Go players from Korea at the MIT Student Center. After talking to them, they invited me to play. Sojin On, on the left, is ranked 7 pro, and Dahye Lee, on the right, is ranked 4 pro.

Dahye gave me an 8 handicap stone advantage (a huge advantage to give someone at the start of a match). She then proceeded to play me and 3 members of the MIT Go club all simultaneously. She darted back and forth from board to board playing moves faster than any of us. I was able to hold on to a very slight advantage (about 2 points) by defending the sides and corners of the board. Unfortunately, as the game progressed there was nowhere else I could get more points, whereas Dahye still had potential in the middle of the board. If I were able to fight her evenly in a chaotic battle in the middle of the board to ruin all territory there, I might have been able to maintain my 2 point lead to the end of the game. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. She beat all 4 of us decisively.

The professionals were super friendly. They were here for a few days to represent Korea in the annual US Go Congress, and they will be flying back home shortly. I asked Sojin at what age he started studying Go and he told me he started training when he was 6. Dahye, who beat us all, gave us brownies and reviewed each of our games with us.

Human professional players are so much more fun to play with than computer professional players. AlphaGo may be impressive at playing Go, but I’ve never seen AlphaGo share smiles, stories, and brownies like Sojin and Dahye.

New Business Idea: Intelligent Parking Finding Assist


Business idea created by Ryan Pijai


Parking is a serious problem in major cities.

Many startups are trying to solve the problem, but they are all doing it from the wrong angle. In their solutions, they try to direct users to SINGLE parking spots, and if something fails they force users to have to start all over again. This approach is counterintuitive to the parking process.

When you go about looking for parking, it isn’t a one-time search. You have a parking strategy: first, I’ll look here; if that fails, I’ll go over there; now maybe I’ll try a side street over here; then maybe I’ll circle back to the first spot and try waiting a few more minutes.

Fiddling with an app while you are driving your car after your first choice for parking fails is dangerous. Deciding on the fly which streets to turn onto when cars are all trying to past you is stressful.

Imagine if you had an app that made all of the navigation decisions for you.

The app gives you an optimal driving route strategy to maximize your chances of finding parking in the shortest amount of time. It takes into account location, time of day, and even other cars. All you have to do is follow the navigation route it gives you, wait when it tells you to wait, and stop where it tells you to check if there is parking available. The finding parking process would be as simple as following GPS directions.

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New Business Idea: Twitch for Restaurants


Business idea created by Ryan Pijai


Twitch is a service that allows gamers to live stream their video game play for others to watch online. Anyone can create their own digital tv channel and users can tune in to it. It shares similarities with YouTube, but unlike YouTube, Twitch supports and encourages realtime back and forth communication between its content providers (the streamers) and its users (the viewers).

Twitch services an unmet need for forming personal connections between video game players and people who like to watch games. As a result, Twitch became so successful that Amazon bought the company in 2014 for nearly a billion dollars.

What if we could mimic what Twitch does for gamers and their viewers, but instead apply it to restaurants and their patrons?

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Yup Boston, I took 10 of your Poke Gyms. And yes, it’s 3:36 a.m. and I’m exhausted.


I am only Level 22 and taking all of the gyms.
The Final “Boss”
My 10 Pokemon Gym Defenders
Prize is “meh,” but the journey was worth it!

Photos created by Ryan Pijai

The Quest

Last night, I decided to go for it. My goal was to capture 10 Pokemon GO gyms all at once (the maximum the game allows you to do), which, as any Pokemon GO player will tell you, is extremely difficult in a bustling major city like Boston. Usually a single gym barely lasts 15 minutes before someone else takes it over.

I began my campaign at midnight. I knew it would be difficult, but I had no idea the type of night that was in store for me. What began as a frivolous self-imposed achievement quest, ended up turning into a crazy 3 and a half hour ordeal that felt like the Hunger Games.

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How I quickly got to Level 20 in Pokemon GO!

twenty.PNG    lures

weedle.PNG    hatching

Strategy guide and photos created by Ryan Pijai


The purpose of Pokemon GO is to catch all of the different types of Pokemon in the game (147 as of the time of this writing).

Catching a Pokemon involves walking around in real life until they pop up on your map and then capturing them with your Poke Balls. Different types of Pokemon tend to hang around different types of areas (i.e. parks, beaches, shopping malls, etc.), so be prepared to travel.

When you capture a Pokemon, there are 3 things you can do with it:

  1. Power it up level by level to make it incrementally stronger.
  2. Evolve it into a stronger Pokemon type that is a lot more powerful.
  3. Fight other Pokemon with it at a Pokemon Gym (after you are at least Level 5).

Although it may be tempting to do these things, you should NOT be doing anything with your Pokemon until you are Level 20 unless you have to. You also should not get too attached to any of your early Pokemon, regardless of how cute they are (hard, I know!). I’ll explain why in the next section.

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VR Game Review: The Climb

Review and gameplay video created by Ryan Pijai

Quick Summary:

The Climb is a first person virtual reality climbing game for the Oculus Rift. Players must climb to the top of beautiful outdoor environments. The game is played with a virtual reality headset and a controller. The game tracks your head motion and position, so you can look around corners and plan out your climbing strategy before taking action.


If you are looking for an experience that can only be found on virtual reality, this is a great game to try. The visuals are top notch and make you feel like you are there. I have been indoor rock climbing before and there are moments in the game that feel real to me. My only concern is whether or not the game has longevity. The game mechanics related to maintaining hand stamina are interesting at first, but without progression in the mechanics, there doesn’t feel like there is enough in the game to sustain long-term player interest.

But despite those flaws, it is still quite a unique experience to play this game. If you aren’t terribly afraid of heights and you are curious about what the most realistic rock-climbing game ever made feels like, I would recommend you get this.

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New Business Idea: E-Sports Tactical Situation Rewinders

Business idea & prototype video created by Ryan Pijai


E-sports (aka electronic sports) are competitive video games that are played just like professional sports are. Teams of players compete against each other for millions of dollars at tournaments. In the past few years, e-sports have grown into a multi billion dollar industry.

Popular e-sports:

  • League of Legends
  • Dota 2
  • Hearthstone
  • Overwatch
  • Street Fighter V

In these games, there are often key moments/tactical situations where mistakes cost teams entire matches. Players and viewers often watch replays of these to learn from them.

But what if instead of passively watching replay videos, you could rewind game situations and actually try playing them differently?

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New Business Idea: Platform for Online Singing Battles

Business idea & prototype video created by Ryan Pijai


On the popular live TV show “The Voice,” there is a round where singers do battle with each other. Two singers are both on stage at the same time. They alternate singing different sections of the same song and judges decide who is better and who will be sent home. Winners on the show end up being “discovered,” and use the exposure to launch their singing careers.

What if we did the same thing for amateur singers on YouTube?

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VR Film Review: New Wave

New Wave – Created By Samir Mallal and Aron Hjartarson
Review written by Ryan Pijai

Quick Summary:

A young couple’s perfect day at the beach goes awry when they reveal their true feelings for each other. It is the first virtual reality (VR) film to feature dynamically changing, character specific voiceover. While the film is playing, you can look at either character to hear what that character is thinking.


I loved it. This is a great new approach to virtual reality storytelling. I want to see more films created using this technique.

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