Founders of Social Media Companies Offer Advice for Young Entrepreneurs

The founders of companies including social news service Reddit, Web video service Blip.tv college social networking venture 2tor briefed an assembly of 150 high-school and college students from the D.C. area on how to start a business from nothing.

The Global Small Business Blog
Global Small Business Blog
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The founders of social media companies such as Reddit, Blip.tv and 2tor briefed an assembly of 150 high-school and college students from the D.C. area on how to start a business from nothing.

The co-founder of Blip.tv, Dina Kaplan, spoke of meeting with Geraldine Laybourne, founder of the women’s network Oxygen. The meeting closed Kaplan’s first revenue deal. However, Laybourne encouraged her to “pay it forward someday”. Kaplan takes the time to mentor female entrepreneurs as often as she can, according to the Washington Post she added, “When you can do a favor for someone, do it. When you need a favor, don’t be afraid to ask.”

Jeremy Johnson quit Princeton to start a social network centered on the college admissions process. He co-founded 2tor, a platform that establishes online higher education programs. The programs are used by colleges, such as the University of Southern California and Georgetown.

The Post reported that Johnson told the crowd that he doesn’t advocate dropping out of college. But if you decide to stay in school, look for college courses that teach you two things, “One, that they can’t know everything, and two, how to learn.”

The co-founder of social news service Reddit, Alexis Ohanian spoke of being a middle-class, 6 foot 4, white male with supportive parents. He is having the time of his life, like playing the video game of life “on easy mode.” He also started a company called Breadpig that sells geeky wares and donates all its profits to good causes around the world.

“We’re starting to see more upstart companies that are doing social good, and a lot more people are looking for more creative ways to start companies,” Ohanian said according to the Post.

If you have an idea, the best way to interest investors is pretty simple. Johnson told the students to be compelling and create the feeling like people are going to “miss the train if they don’t get on”.

Kaplan offered advice on how to meet funders. She spoke of her 80/20 rule. You spend 80 percent of the time working on a project and the other 20 percent engaged in the community – you can’t be shy.