January 31, 2014

Student effort helps bring Reddit co-founder to campus

Fisher undergraduate Jay Clouse discovered his career passion through the Business Builders Club, a student organization dedicated to the growth and improvement of businesses and organizations -- and now he’s focused on sharing that passion with as many students as possible.

One approach: help bring to campus the co-founder of one of the world’s most popular websites.

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian spoke to a large crowd inside Mershon Auditorium -- an event hosted and organized by the Business Builders Club (BBC) and sponsored by Fundable, a Columbus-based company that provides a crowdfunding platform for startups.

“When I came to college, I wasn’t a business student, but I immediately noticed that business practices apply to any field or job,” said Clouse, who studies marketing. “Being part of the BBC and being passionate about entrepreneurship, it’s great to be able to bring someone like Alexis in who might help people realize that passion -- at Fisher, but also throughout the university and the community.”

Ohanian discussed the power of the Internet -- “the world’s largest stage and library in one” -- and the many opportunities and challenges it provides entrepreneurs. The Reddit co-founder also stressed the importance of persistence, learning through trial-and-error and skill building, including coding.

“We all think we have great ideas, and that’s healthy,” said Ohanian, who talked about the early days of Reddit, a story detailed in his book Without Their Permission. “But being able to create is where all the value is in this new world . . . So if you can be a maker, if you can be a builder, you have all the power because you don’t just have ideas, you have the ability to execute them.”

Another former BBC member, JackThreads founder and 2003 Fisher finance alumnus Jason Ross, took part in an on-stage discussion with Ohanian. Ross reiterated the importance of combining the desire to start a business with a passion for the product or industry.

“In business there are so many ups and downs, but what gets you out of bed every single day is that you’re doing something that you love and that is natural to you,” Ross said.

Fundable CEO Wil Schroter, who has founded numerous ventures including Startups.co, interviewed Ohanian as part of the on-stage discussion, asking questions submitted by audience members via Twitter. Schroter started Fundable with Eric Corl, who was a member of the BBC at Ohio State. Clouse, who serves as president of the BBC, said that Corl first suggested an event featuring the Reddit co-founder, who appeals to students across interests and fields.

“What’s exciting to me is that it goes beyond traditional business and fits with how our student club thinks about entrepreneurs and business builders,” Clouse said. “You don’t have to be the founder of a company; it’s anyone who’s contributing to the continued growth and improvement of a business or enterprise.”