I’ve always admired people who pursue what they want and disregard anything else. That’s also the part I like about entrepreneurship.
I have a friend who was accepted into a top 10 public university in the architecture program and after two years, he just quit. He moved to Korea to pursue his dream of being a musician. His parents didn’t support him and cut him off for a while (they’re good now though). He’s still working at it but the point is that he had the guts to drop everything and really immerse himself into pursuing that goal. It’s something I don’t think I could do yet. Mostly because I still have no idea what I want to do.
It’s been a common theme with the more interesting founders I’ve met this summer. They’re not concerned with anything else. They’ve never considered anything else an option for that moment in time and place. The odds are against them. Everyone tosses around that statistic of 9 out of 10 startups failing. If that were entirely true, then it’s obvious that there’s money to be made elsewhere that these people could be involved in. Doesn’t matter. They have the chance to build something. The chance to create something meaningful that solves problems for people. Many never get to see success but that’s something they’d gladly take over not having the chance to do what they’re doing.
At this point in time, I can only hope to find something worth tossing out all other options for. Something that makes me feel like it’s something I want to do rather than have to do. I’m still too calculative in my decision making. It’s nearing the end of the summer and here I am still trying to have more conviction.
I do feel like I made progress though. I realized that I really should stay a builder as opposed to a pure strategist. I also got a clearer perspective on what to look for in a career. As this summer wraps up, things are beginning to get clearer. I’m ready to go back now and finish up this last semester.
Mark Kawano is an idea machine. He lives in the future and builds what’s missing. This summer, I had the pleasure of working with him as an intern at a startup called Storehouse—a visual storytelling platform that allows people to create, share, and discover beautifully designed visual narratives. Mark started his career as a designer at Adobe, where he worked on the Creative Suite for several years. He then went on to join Apple as a designer and a User Experience Evangelist before founding Storehouse in 2013.
Most photo services are the digital equivalent of throwing your photos into a shoebox in the closet. They’re like a journalist’s pile of notes—useful to the writer, but not to a reader who wants to make sense of the broader story. Platforms like Facebook and Flickr force your photos into a grid of uniformly-sized thumbnails, or worse, a slideshow. And apps like Instagram and Snapchat are about moment sharing, one photo at a time, rather than storytelling.
If Instagram is a word, then Storehouse is a sentence. The Storehouse app allows people to combine photos, videos, and text in a magazine-like layout and easily craft a narrative around the content they care about. I sat down with Mark last week to get his take on starting a company, the role of design, and the future of publishing.
It was last Tuesday at 12:40pm when I ran out of BrightRoll for lunch with someone I had been excited to meet for a few weeks. A few blocks away, I stopped to pick up some coffee in an attempt to reenergize myself, as I knew I wanted to be especially alert.
Minutes later, I walked up to a glass door on Sutter St. and ran the doorbell. Reaching the top of a staircase, I reached my hand out and met Christian Fernandez, the co-founder of Hackbright Academy.
“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”
Jared from the show Silicon Valley
Having been in the Bay area for a month now, I have observed an interesting phenomenon. There seems to be a sentiment in the Valley that engineers are “better” than business people. I vividly recall my first conversation with a new friend, a software engineer at Google whom I will call K. here.
One of my favorite things about being a summer intern is being able to play the student card. I love meeting various founders and asking about their entrepreneurial experiences from a learner’s point of view. As a student who is full of questions, I feel gratified when I can gain insight into some of the industry’s best minds.
Yesterday I met with Leah Busque, CEO and founder of TaskRabbit. TaskRabbit is revolutionizing the labor industry by outsourcing everything from maintenance to deliveries, grocery shopping, cleaning, and more. It connects people in need of help to individuals and businesses in their neighborhood. You know that new iPhone you need to stand in line for but can’t? TaskRabbit is great for that! Shoutout to Ramsey for TaskRabbit-ing Nyquil to my mom when she was sick.
Agency is something I think about constantly. It’s the driving force that fuels my optimism when I code, design, and envision my awesome summer intern project here at Neon.
As someone who values self-agency and intrinsic motivation, I’m blessed to have responsibilities that enable all of the above. My summer intern project involves building an internal tool that will aid in sales operations. Being able to lead my project is a glorious change from what I’m used to: receiving strict instructions from professors, parents, and other authority figures. Though I value their teaching, it’s refreshing being able to create something myself. Realizing my self-agency is incredibly empowering.
Dogs, cats, and travel? Yeah, that’s right. I met the man behind businesses (and organizations) in all three of those areas. Last week, I got a chance to sit down, chat, and have a cup of some great coffee at Philz with Eric Nakagawa. Eric was the founder of I Can Has Cheezburger? and Simple Honey. More recently, he was involved in Dogecoin advocacy and charity through Doge 4 Water. He is originally from Hawaii but resides in San Francisco now. I’ve met him only once before while I was on the committee for Startup Weekend Honolulu where he was a judge. Recently, I ran into to him at True University where I decided to reconnect since I haven’t gotten to know him yet. The morning with Eric went great! We discussed a lot of things from figuring out what I want to do to how to help Hawaii’s startup community. There was a LOT covered in the two hours so I’ll keep it brief by going through Eric’s thoughts on the topics we covered.
My older brother told me about Meng To. A designer, author, entrepreneur and more, Meng doesn’t fit under one label. In exploring my interest in design, I’ve come across works of art. What captivated me about Meng was his story. I got a glimpse of who Meng is on a sunny afternoon, as we conversed, sipping on Green Ecstasy tea at Samovar Tea Lounge.
The hackers at San Francisco’s Runway Incubator introduced themselves to each other with skeptical enthusiasm. “How’s it goin’?” said one, before quickly correcting himself: “Or maybe I should just say, ‘Yo.’” Pizza, computer chargers, and bottles of Blue Moon powered a hackathon last Friday that was organized by a messaging startup called Yo. For two hours, a group of 50+ developers hunched over their computers in a communal workspace with a distinctly industrial feel. The piping in the ceiling was completely exposed—a fittingly half-finished look for a hackathon that encouraged programmers to build fast, not beautifully.
My name is Sunena! I am a rising sophomore in the College at the University of Chicago. As of now, I am double majoring in economics and computer science but that may change. I am a member of True Ventures’ True Entrepreneur Corps and am interning at their portfolio company about.me this summer.