Student Post – September 17, 2013 – Sitting on a bamboo chair at Mama’s Fish House below the overhanging palms, I stared into the distance where I could see a shimmering sunrise above the Maui horizon. The crests of the waves glistened from the light, and at that moment it occurred to me that this was it. The environment and atmosphere was pristine and perfect around me, however I was missing one thing. I had been observing the stunning innovation of Mother Nature, but within this beautiful picture I was just an observer. The desire to be part of this elaborate scene made me question my motivation and direction for the future.
Soaring in the air I spun three rotations, and safely landed down on the downslope of a breaking swell. Guiding my kite to the left, I directed myself towards the beach, while digging the edge of my kiteboard into the Pacific. The wind was consistently racing through the air allowing my kite to harness its immense energy. Sending my kite back to the right, I raced towards a large wave. Approaching the lip of the wave, time started to slow down, and I entered a state of hyper focus. Each droplet splashing off the wave suddenly started to float. I could envision my route into the air where I would be once again part of the elaborate scene. Time sped up rapidly, and the wind blew against my body like a Maglev train racing towards its destination. Flying up towards the cumulus clouds, I looked below and felt at home. This feeling was pristine, and I had achieved my place next to the shimmering sun.
Two weeks earlier I had applied to an entrepreneurship program called Draper University, started by the famous venture capitalist and superhero Tim Draper of DFJ Ventures. The program is a six-week intensive pre-incubation and concept generation experience for future entrepreneurs ranging from age 18 to 28. Even though I had sent in my resume and completed my interview, I was still not sold if this was the right track for me. I have always been intrigued by start-ups ever since I was born. My dad ran a successful trade show company on three continents, and he had inspired me to take the leap. Freshman year at Lehigh University, I started a technical entrepreneurship club called CREATE, where I was inspired to help students bring their ideas to life from the paper stage. This is where I had my first romance with entrepreneurship, and I knew the rest was history. I was going to start my own company, and finally I would find my way to add my own splash of innovation to society surrounding me.
Halfway through freshman year at Lehigh University, I declared my major Materials Science and Engineering. This was a step away from business, but I knew that with my new knowledge I would be able to make physical products that acted as disruptors for other technology. The curriculum was challenging and enduring, but I enjoyed learning about the building blocks of plastics, metals, and ceramics. Form and function both intrigued me, and I was motivated to create something that tied the two together in a simple harmony. Thinking about my future as a Material Scientist and Engineer, I realized that the normal track would not be entirely satisfying, and once again I would be looking out at the sunrise. Draper University accepted me for their summer program, and I knew that it was my calling from the Valley to the Bay.
While at Draper University I met two extraordinary minds and my future cofounders: Allen Houng and Sambhav Galada. They were both trained Computer Scientists and Electrical Engineers. Allen was from Taiwan, and Sambhav was from India. We had all come from different backgrounds and cultures, but our desire to create a company unified all of us. Halfway through the program, I came up with a new concept for connecting with people physically while using new technological advancements. Recently I had observed that from the emergence of the smartphone technology, most people had become more virtually social and more physically antisocial. My goal was to use the existing platform in a new way, so that everyone could optimize the process and become more physically social. With the rise of smart wearable devices and SaaS platforms, I saw an opportunity to invent a simplified product that allowed people to interact with others in a sentimental fashion, while awarding themselves among their virtual presence. Sambhav and Allen shared the same vision that I had, and we agreed this was our new path. As a romanticist for ideas I had several projects that I was devoted to, but I had never found “the” idea. This new project was “the” idea, and my new love.
Jumping up and down from trampoline to trampoline, I was officially a superhero. My cape swayed behind me in the air, and I moved across the vast room like rolling thunder. I sat down on a bright blue beanbag and watched the rest of my class leap across the room with their unique style. It was our Draper University graduation, and my class finished their short 6-week journey one by one as they bounced from the podium. The day before graduation, student teams participated in a pitch day to a panel of venture capitalists and angel investors. Each team had two minutes per person to share their life-changing plan to beneficially disrupt the world. There had been a rumor moving quickly among our class that a few lucky teams would be chosen to receive funding. Every team delivered an extraordinary pitch, and I knew that any team could be worthy. I walked outside through the double doors and sat down next to the pool. Looking at the water’s surface, I saw my reflection, and I imagined a new life in Silicon Valley.
A deep voice caught my attention, and I turned around. It was one of the investors from our pitch day. He wanted to help my team make our venture a reality, and immediately my dream had come true. I had been waiting for the right pieces to come together in a harmony, and finally an upbeat and energetic melody had formed. I had a great team, investor, location, technology, market access, and supply chain. Lehigh University was my current plan, but I knew that this was my shot for the big leagues. If I didn’t go for it, then I could regret my decision for the rest of my life.
I would have never of thought that all within one summer I would start a company, move to California, and take a leave from school. The first two on my list were life goals, but I had always planned to finish what I had started with minimal interruptions. A new chapter in my life has started, and I am excited to share it with the world.
“We need to learn how to want what we have NOT to have what we want in order to get steady and stable Happiness” – Dalai Lama
~ Guest post by Brian Friedman who is from Massachusetts and was part of DU's Summer 2013 Class. This article is cross-posted from his blog: https://medium.com/@bfried9131/loopd-is-born-b1b7a5ecad2f Check out his startup Loopd at: http://getloopd.com/