Featured on Aug 28, 2012
"Do, or do not. There is no 'try' - Yoda"
I am currently a Summer Analyst at The Fund for Public Schools through the LEE Program.
I have worked for a variety of internet start-ups including Prendismo (formerly eClips) and WonderHowto. While with these start-ups, I was one of the first employees and played a number of different roles at each. Specifically, I was involved with product development, user interface design, business planning and investor relations.
I am also an active social entrepreneur with a deep commitment to education. I am the founder and executive director of Young Changers. I previously had leadership roles at IthaQatar Ambassadors and Sri Lankan Aid. I strongly believe that the single most important thing you can do to help a kid is to provide him or her with a solid education. At the heart of education are the teachers building our future leaders, which is why I have devoted some time to Teach For America.
Before landing in NYC a year ago, I attended Cornell University as an Economics and Government major with a minor in Information Science. While at Cornell, I was actively involved in the start-up scene and served as President of the Cornell Technology Initiative. I was also President of Cornell’s Interfraternity Council and a Big Brother Mentor at the Ithaca Youth Bureau.
I was born in Baltimore and grew up in Los Angeles, CA. I have always loved technology and am the first to try out something new. I enjoy learning about new startups, particuarly in the mobile, EdTech, sustainability, digital media and enterprise spaces. I am also proficient in a range of web-tech languages and enjoy coding something new from time to time. Since moving to NYC I have immersed myself in the awesome culture that is Brooklyn, the never ending work of an educator and the vibrant and growing start-up scene that is already rivaling SV.
I’m always up for meeting someone new or learning about a new start-up. So please reach out if you want to connect.
- Title: Portfolio Analyst (The Fund for Public Schools), Social Entrepreneur (Young Changers), Startup Junkie (Prendismo, WonderHowTo)
- Age: 23
- Location: Brooklyn
- Contact: @MrAllenMiller
Noticed on your blog that you wrote a post about five things to do to become an entrepreneur. One of the things you wrote was to "figure out exactly why you want to be an entrepreneur." So I turn the question to you- why do you want to be an entrepreneur? Your last note was to "be persistent and take risks." What was the biggest risk you've ever taken? Did the risk pay off?
Being an entrepreneur has excited me for a variety of reasons. There is certainly an element of pride that many entrepreneurs have in pioneering innovation and being the first to do something new. Other entrepreneurs enjoy being a part of a challenging and unconventional work environment. For me, the greatest drive is that feeling of contributing something new and of value to society - whether the startup is for profit or nonprofit. As for risks, I've taken a few pretty big risks over the years, but the one that stands out at the moment is when I turned down a great summer internship in consulting to work on a startup with a few classmates at Cornell. The startup ended up failing, but the lessons learned that summer led to a number of highly successful initiatives since then.
You were involved with the Teach for America program amongst other nonprofits. As a social entrepreneur who started an education nonprofit, what are your opinions on the state of education in America and how do you think we can improve the education system?
Now that's the million dollar question, isn't it? I think there is much to be said about education in the U.S. and not enough time to even hit the tip of the iceberg. I certainly do believe that the work being done by organizations like Teach For America is creating a positive change in some of our highest need urban public schools. There is also quite a bit being done at the moment around the common core, alternative instruction, education technology and private funding in experimental pilot programs. The biggest thing we can do, in my opinion, is to focus as many resources as possible on building and maintaining great teachers. Some of the best education systems in the world, such as Finland's system, have such great programs because of the amount of money and time spent on teacher effectiveness. An increase in the number of highly effective and committed teachers, won't by itself eliminate the achievement gap, but it can certainly help narrow the disparity in education achievement that currently exists.
As a social entrepreneur who is a "start up junkie," what are some of your favorite companies combining tech and social good?
In terms of learning systems, Edmodo and Verbling are building out some pretty robust platforms. For classroom management, Class Dojo has a great toolkit. For video learning, you can't beat Khan Academy and TED Talks. For marketing, grant writing and volunteering, Media Cause is an exciting resource. And of course, one can't have a conversation about tech and social good without bringing up Indiegogo!