On Thursday, October 24, 2013, more than 300 people gathered at the Bell Museum of Natural History on the University of Minnesota campus to hear Alexis Ohanian speak. Ohanian, who co-founded the news aggregate site reddit, is traveling to 75 universities across the country as part of his book tour for "Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed."
Ohanian shared his journey with Internet and data start-ups, which began when he was a student at the University of Virginia in 2005. His talk emphasized that you do not need to ask permission to be an entrepreneur. "Entrepreneurs have ideas, and then execute them," he said. "Execution is everything. And with execution comes failure. And that's OK."
Ohanian then shared the stage with two Minnesota locals who are being entrepreneurial and creating new ideas using data and technology. Shilad Sen is a professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. and a Ph.D. graduate of the University of Minnesota. Kevin Schaul is a senior at the University of Minnesota majoring in computer science and minoring in journalism who was a Google-AP scholar and focuses on ways to use data to help tell stories. Both talked about their experiences with starting new technology applications and successes and failures with their entrepreneurial enterprises.
The message of Ohanian's hourlong talk? Get started and be entrepreneurial. "There are no limits. You don't have to ask permission," he said of the tech start-up world. "Start-ups are happening around the country, not just in Silicon Valley."
Following his talk, Ohanian met with guests for an hour to sign copies of his book and to inspire. "I love meeting everyone and hearing people's ideas," he said. "It really is inspiring."
A reception followed Ohanian's talk. The event was co-sponsored by the Minnesota Journalism Center, SOBACO and bswing.
Photos by Mark Vancleave