Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs all dropped out. Does that mean you should too? We staged a debate between two successful young entrepreneurs—one who left school, the other who is adamant about staying enrolled. Who won? You be the judge.
MTV for the Overachiever Generation?
At age 18, Arielle Scott knew she wanted to work at a start-up. Only she didn't know where to start. She joined Women 2.0, a Bay Area networking group for future female founders, and was introduced to Jessica Mah, the serial entrepreneur known for her unabashed drive—she graduated Berkeley at 19—and for founding money-management software company InDinero. Scott says she shared a complaint, and a possible solution, with Mah.
"There really weren't any resources out there to help people find internships in the start-up world," Scott said. "So I proposed we create something, and I figured if it worked, I'd have my internship."
After a good deal of deliberation, Mah, Andy Su, and Scott founded InternshipIN on a shoestring. Scott had her in, and has since been working on a series of start-ups geared toward helping young people realize their dreams.
"I realized what I am most excited by is talking to young adults, and the world of marketing to younger people," she says.
Last summer she and two girlfriends decided to take a company-building road-trip of sorts, hosting entrepreneurial un-conferences in 13 cities along the way on youth innovation. They called it GenJuice, and the events got a lot of buzz. With 75,000 attendees, and just as many views on partner JustinTV, a natural audience and fan base was born.
"When we were done with the tour, people didn't want it to end. They were like, 'what are you going to do next?' and we had no clue," Scott says. "We knew who our audience was, but we didn't know the delivery system for it. We lacked a vision."
Start-up identity crisis ensued. Credit cards were maxed out. Tension soared.
"We were broke and stressed, so we set a deadline: October 10. We have to know what we are by then," Scott says. "Suddenly, and thank goodness, people started asking us for content."
So they published content, on GenJuice.com. Yes, Scott and her co-founders did the improbable: they founded a media company in 2010, a time when more than 150 U.S. newspapers folded and few models for monetizing Web content seemed stable. But now they have not only an audience, but also a vision: be the next MTV, filled with news and entertainment for people ages 18 to 34.
Only the vision shared by Scott and her five co-workers (who have graduated and are living in Austin, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, while Scott finishes up classes this semester at Berkeley) is a little different than that of MTV circa 2011.
"Our experience, being young people ourselves, is we realize young people today are less interested in following celebrities, and are more interested in becoming big themselves, or learning how to better do the thing they are passionate about," Scott says. "The kind of content we create is all about empowerment."
On the site, GenJuice.com, one can find tips for snagging a new client and tactics for booking a live band show. There are "10 Tips to Having an Awesome Day" and iPad app recommendations. The site is operating on a Gawker model of online advertising revenue right now, and will also be funded through tour sponsorship and special project partnerships. As of now, GenJuice is seeking seed funding while honing its natural revenue streams. It's hoping for steadily growing traffic as Millenials seek information about fueling their dreams.
"We are the overachiever generation. We want to know that when the day is done we want to have done something that helps not just one person, but a lot of people," she says. "The content for the next generations to come, it should all be geared at people who want to do more than just be spoon-fed media."
CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer
Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.