Takeaway from the Thiel Under20 Summit: Incredible things can quite certainly be done

If there’s one thing to take away from last weekend’s Under20 Summit, it’s that incredible things can quite certainly be done. While working on a creative project, you undoubtedly come to a point where you don’t know whether or not what you’re working on will succeed. Panic, mild depression, and whole-days spent in bed ensue. However, when you meet people that have already worked through those blocks and met with success, you realize that… they’re just people. If they’ve done it, then so can you.

The interesting thing is that reality is negotiable. There is a certain way that the world works, and that’s great. But it’s not ideal—there’s always room for improvement. Being an entrepreneur and a creator means to envision a grand improvement, and then work your ass off to find a way to bring reality closer to your vision. It’s a battle, for sure, but worth the wounds in the end.

My two favorite talks: Matt Scholz and Josh Whiton

I’ll be honest, those were the only two talks I went to. But I selected those talks for very specific reasons.

Scholz talked about his experience going from computer science to biotech as he started his company, Immusoft. What struck me most was his genuine personality. I loved sitting outside in the grass, talking with him about everything from recent biotech research to his adventures partying in Ibiza, Spain. I envy his ability to switch in a moment from esoteric talk about protein decoupling to laughing and joking with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. People that can do that sort of thing are the type of people you should strive to be like.

Whiton’s talk was recommended to me my John Marbach. He spoke about his experience bootstrapping his bus location-tracking company by funding his technology with early sales. Since I’m only 19 years old, it’s not easy to conjure up venture capital for a biotech company. So, I plan to bootstrap my venture with sales, thereby validating and learning my business as I go. Whiton is a soft-spoken guy with a rational sense about him, which I highly respect. He also eats paleo, which is cool.

Great youngins to watch out for

I didn’t get a chance to meet everyone I wanted to meet, but these are the few that made a strong impression on me, and the ones that I think you should watch out for because they’ll be doing great things soon:

Rebecca Kantar – Rebecca’s got a phenomenally vivid sense of life that comes out in the way she talks about and runs her projects. She’s the CEO of the Minga Group and BrightCo, and has a pretty cool TED talk, linked above.

Max Lamb – Max and my startup team got to hang out for a while and walk around Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square. He’s a chill kid with some good ideas and a strong sense for what he really wants as opposed to the bullshit society throws at you. He’s working at a biotech startup right now. Check out his recap of biotech at the Under20 Summit.

Dune Harman – This guy was the social arbiter of the whole thing. He knew almost everyone. On top of that, he knew who I should meet and why (he spoke highly of and introduced me to Emily Peck, another very smart attendee). Watch out for when he puts on his own events, because they will of course be incredible events with incredible attendees.

Carl Shan – I met up with Carl at the Udemy offices, where he’s working on their growth team. Carl’s got a great sense of who he is and what he wants working for Udemy and elsewhere. I can see any project he leads becoming successful, just because of how helpful and personable he is

Of course, there were a few people that slipped under my radar, probably because I didn’t get a chance to talk with them for too long. If you’re one of those kids, shoot me an email, I’d love to hear from you.





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