"OMG, you know the guy who started Reddit?!"
My sister-in-law — a freshman at the University of Maryland — was starstruck, and immediately took to Facebook to tell her friends she was in the same room with Alexis Ohanian. Her roommate responded right away "Where are you?? I’m coming NOW!"
Everywhere Alexis went last night on stop 29 of his 150-stop college book tour, students and fans of Reddit were clamoring to get their pictures taken with him so they could tell their friends they met the founder of Reddit, got their copy of his book signed, and drank beers with the guy behind their favorite site. True rockstar status.
Granted, Alexis is a special breed — touring the country in a massive tour bus like an actual rockstar — but the best startups being created today are touching lives much the same way that music does, and giving founders a celebrity status among the internet generation.
It’s now just as cool to start a startup as it is to be in a rock band. Just as cool to spend hours creating in front of a computer as it is to spend hours practicing guitar in your parents’ basement. Just as cool to reveal that app you’ve been working on to your friends as it is to release your band’s first demo.
Coding, designing, finding users, building a brand, and ultimately creating a company out of nothing is an art form. It starts with a blank canvas, makes people’s lives better when released to the world, and takes years of practice to become great at it. And pop culture is beginning to recognize and embrace the startup creators who pour their hearts and souls into their work to build a better future.
After he got off stage, the success of Alexis’ message hit home for me when my sister-in-law — an 18-year-old girl obsessed with fashion, parties, and Snapchat — said afterward that she wanted to learn how to code so she could have the power to be one of these creators.
Kids growing up today are already obsessed with technology, and all they need now are more positive founder role-models to focus their scattered energy and show them the way. So while we don’t all have to go on rockstar cross-country tours to do our part, we owe it to future generations to get involved at local schools, mentor passionate kids overflowing with ideas, and give back to the community that will ultimately change the world.