Make Something People Love
So, you want to learn how to make a product people love-that's great! But stop right there. Before you can make something people love, you have to make something people want. What's challenging and wonderful about the web is that tricks of perception alone will not work. Anything you create actually has to be good. No matter how you try to convince someone to buy or use your product, they are always only a back button away from something more interesting. The internet is the most efficient marketplace for ideas that has ever existed, but your competition is stiff, and comes in all forms. Alexis shares lessons he's learned from co-founding reddit, and building community on breadpig and the travel search site hipmunk. He'll also share best practices for design and community that he imparts to the startups he advises and invests in.
Make the World Suck Less (And Still Make a Profit)
So many people talk about how to use social media to build community, but not many have actually done it on a massive scale. As co-founder of the social news site reddit, and founder of the social enterprise breadpig, Alexis speaks with authority on the power of building a passionate community and the opportunity to tap into that community to do good works. "Make the World Suck Less" is Alexis's motto and the mission he builds into all his entrepreneurial endeavors. With breadpig, he turned the publishing model on its head, giving the bulk of its profits to the artists while still raising over $200,000 in three years to donate to non-profit projects. Alexis tells stories from his own experiences, and from the companies he invests in, and shows how individuals and organizations of every size and type can put these values into action.
Think Like a Startup
America is losing its competitive edge as a nation. With fewer products being produced in the US, it is innovation coming from dorm-rooms and garages that will continue generating wealth (and jobs) for the next generation. Today, Google (started in a garage) has over 20,000 employees. Skype was developed by programmers in Estonia, and when it was sold, the price was equal to more than 1/10th of Estonia's GDP that year. A 17-year-old high school student in Moscow started ChatRoulette.com, which quickly became one of the most popular websites in the world. Alexis was in the first round of Y Combinator startups, funded in a model that has quickly become replicated worldwide as the standard means of investing in early stage web startups. He'll share what he learned from having gone through the experience, as well as what it's like now working for Y Combinator as their "Ambassador to the East." With over 60 companies in his portfolio today, Alexis will also share his insights as an investor and show companies of all sizes the most valuable lessons they can learn from startup culture.
Without Their Permission
At 35, Ohanian has come to personify the dorm-room tech entrepreneur, changing the world without asking permission. Within a couple of years of graduating college, Ohanian did just that, selling reddit for millions of dollars. He’s gone on to start many other companies, like hipmunk and breadpig, all while representing Y Combinator and investing in over sixty other tech startups. As Alexis Ohanian learned when he helped to co-found the immensely popular reddit.com, the internet is the most powerful and democratic tool for disseminating information in human history. And when that power is harnessed to create new communities, technologies, businesses or charities, the results can be absolutely stunning. In this talk based on his new book, "Without Their Permission," Alexis shares his ideas on harnessing the power of the web for good and shares his philosophy with young entrepreneurs all over the globe. Alexis believes that the internet is the world's greatest library and stage, and he helps everyone gets on board equipped with all the right tools. He calls it "Permissionless Innovation" and shows the power of this platform not only for entrepreneurship, but for philanthropy, activism, the arts and more. According to Alexis, when all links are created equal, we're going to see better companies, better arts, better non-profits, even better politicians. The potential is limitless from people who’ve been left out by traditional gatekeepers. In order for this creativity to flourish we need to keep internet open and free and a viable place for people to pursue their dreams.
Alexis Ohanian is the co-founder of Reddit, Initialized Capital, and a bestselling author based in San Francisco, CA.
After graduating from UVA in 2005, Alexis and his co-founder Steve Huffman started Reddit. The site quickly took off, and in 2006, they sold it to Conde Nast. In 2015, he returned to executive chair a newly-independent Reddit and helped lead a turnaround—it’s now the 3rd largest US website, 6th largest in the world. Today, he serves on the board of directors as an advisor to the firm.
In 2016, he and Garry Tan co-founded Initialized Capital, an early stage venture capital firm that has over $500M under management and a portfolio with $36B in market value so far.
Alexis helped launch hipmunk (acquired by Concur in 2016) and ran marketing/pr/community for the platform before becoming an advisor and joining the fight against SOPA & PIPA. He's invested in and advised over two hundred tech startups and was a partner at Y Combinator; created & hosted a show called Small Empires (2 seasons!) about tech startups & their communities; and in 2013 wrote a national bestselling book, Without Their Permission.
Along the way, Alexis spoke at TED, volunteered in Armenia as a Kiva Fellow, and was named on Forbes 30 Under 30 list two years in a row. He’s a vocal advocate and fundraiser for STEM education, the open internet, and paid family leave.
He also proudly designed the mascots for every company he's started. He and his wife are the new and thrilled parents of an awesome daughter, who will be learning to program as soon as she masters eating with a fork and knife.