We had the opportunity to chat with the co-founder of Ponder about what it is like to be a young person in the start-up world.
TBYT: You got into technology at a very young age. What got you so interested, and how did it all start for you?
William: I got an iPhone for my birthday and wanted to make an app for it, not knowing the extensive work & programming knowledge required. Despite it being much harder than I originally thought, I knew that the reward of having something I made being available to the world would be more than worth it. There were lots of hurdles and road bumps, but it was something I was passionate about doing, which is what allowed me to push through the harder times. The most important thing when creating a startup is being passionate about what you’re doing.
TBYT: What advice do you have for young people who want to get into the startup world?
W: If you’re wanting “normal” work hours, a steady salary, or a stress-free lifestyle, the startup world isn’t for you. That being said, if you’re willing to put the work in it that’s required, it’ll prove to be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
TBYT: During the crucial time in which you were learning all these things and putting yourself out there, what kept you motivated?
W: Knowing that my work will someday impact lots of people and knowing that once that happens, I can change the world for the better.
TBYT: Have you dealt with any age discrimination? If so, what have you done to get past it?
W: Yes. I was about to close a 6-figure investment at 16… I flew to San Francisco to sign the papers, and when they saw me, the company decided to retract their offer. It was devastating, but after getting over the initial pain, the urge the prove them wrong kept me going.
TBYT: What experience have you or people in your life had with cyberbullying?
W: Too many to list. Cyberbullying sucks. Don’t do it, and if you’re the one being bullied, talk to a parent or some other trusted individual about it. In addition, it’s illegal in many jurisdictions, so if all other means of intervening don’t succeed, consider contacting the authorities. If you let whatever someone says about you, online or otherwise, negatively affect you, you’ve allowed the bully to win. Just know that they are the weak one since they have such little self esteem in themselves that they have to revert to hurting others to make themselves feel better. It gets better.
TBYT: Who is your role model?
W: Elon Musk
TBYT: It’s really fascinating that you didn’t take the traditional path. How can people who don’t have the means to get a traditional college education use the resources that are out there to achieve their goals?
W: There are so many free resources out there available to people who, for whatever reason, don’t want to go down a traditional education path. If you decide to not go to college, I’d ensure that you first ensure that you’re making that decision for the right reasons (i.e. financial issues or a desire to learn in a non-traditional environment… hating homework isn’t an excuse because real world work is even harder). Services like Coursera, Udacity, Khan Academy, and iTunes U are great.
TBYT: What’s the best part about what you do?
W: Waking up every day excited to work and knowing what I do will become a part of people’s daily lives.
TBYT: At TBYT we are all about encouraging people to use the internet for good. What is one positive way that you would like to see the internet change?
W: An increase in crowdsourcing, whether that’s for funding an idea, locating a criminal, or sharing thoughts & opinions.
TBYT: You’re only 20, and you’ve already accomplished a lot. What are your long term goals?
W: It’s hard to tell as I don’t even know where I’ll be a year from now. That’s what’s exciting about the startup world. I’d like to be in a position where I can influence others and help shape a better, brighter future.