The next generation of digital entrepreneurs
On a recent trip to California, Tyler Arnold, CEO of SimplySocial, attended Y Combinator’s annual Startup School, hosted at Stanford University. During the day-long program, Tyler was infused with a great amount of knowledge from some of the biggest names in the tech industry.
Co-sponsored by YC and the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP), Startup School gives tech based entrepreneurs who are thinking about starting or currently starting their own companies information and support on what it takes to build a business. Speakers for the program included Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann, Stripe CEO Patrick Collison, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, and several others speaking about their own personal entrepreneurial experiences. “Startup School is basically a bunch of ‘been there done that’s’ lecturing the ‘want to go theres’” says Tyler.
Tyler first became interested in attending this prestigious event after watching some online videos from past Startup School programs, specifically a video of Brian Chesky’s talk about the founding of Airbnb. He decided to apply for the 2012 program after seeing a notice that they were accepting applications. Tyler was doubtful he would be accepted, but it was something he knew he wanted to be apart of and that it would be valuable to apply and at least be on the radar of Y Combinator. Needless to say, he was thrilled to find out he was actually accepted.
Strait from the horses mouth
Tyler says this event has the cache of attracting high quality and very talented people with many diverse backgrounds but a shared interested in technology. Marcus Nelson, head of social media at Salesforce for three years and now working on his own startup, Addvocate, spoke one-on-one with Tyler for well over an hour. Tyler also had the privilege of meeting David Rachanko, founder of Weebly. Coincidently, Rachanko’s mother was a famous radio announcer in Anchorage for ten years. “Even though it was just one day, it was overwhelming and exhausting” said Tyler. “With the worlds best minds in technology telling you what you need to do to be successful you’re totally engaged taking notes on the edge of your seat”.
For Tyler, it was great to simply be in the moment and soak it all up. “It was just amazing to have access to talent that I would never get the access to personally, hear back stories about companies that you would never hear on any blog or in any other scenario.” His greatest takeaway was seeing the diversity of success. “There are people who believe in different things that led to their success. Mark Zukerberg’s said it was ‘their ability to move fast and break things’ which meant they were able to learn the most about the market the fastest. Other people are saying its the time you put into the product, other people are saying its all about persistence and not giving up, other people are saying its all about focus. The truth is they are all right, but they’re all sort of right in their own ways. You really see that diversity of success and that the culture of the founders is then built into the culture of the company. To learn that was really cool and to be within arms reach of some of the greatest talent in our industry was inspiring.” said Tyler.
Who will speak next?
For the past four years, Startup School has had a tradition of bringing back past students as speakers. Brian Chesky was in the audience of Startup School in 2008 as a nobody. He spoke at the event in 2010 and his startup, Airbnb, is now a billion dollar company. Patrick Collison founder of Stripe, was in the audience in 2010 and he spoke in 2012. The big questions Tyler says is “Who in the audience of 2012 with be speaking in 2014? Of course even with the odds stacked against them, everyone thinks it’s going to be them.” Looking back on it, Tyler says there is a piece of Startup School that is just magical. “That’s the magic of the room, it’s a list of can do people. It’s nice to be at an event where one day of the year I feel like I’m not alone as a startup founder. It’s well worth it.”