BENEFITING: HARVARD-WESTLAKE SCHOOL
EVENT DATE: Jul 27, 2014
I am raising money to fund a truly unique experience for high school students. I am working with my old high school, Harvard-Westlake, to raise $10,000 by July 27th to help fund a Startup Scramble weekend. These weekend events are a unique opportunity where students tackle problems related to building teams, products, and companies. Student leaders commit serious time to an intense experience where education can't get in the way of real-world learning.
I am working with my old high school because of their forward looking nature, and willingness to bring novel and unique learning systems to their students. While these events are usually available only to adults, my hope is to use this funding model to enable more of these experiences for more high school level attendees in the future.
This year I am competing in two one-day endurance events: Honu Half Ironman on the Big Island of Hawaii on May 31 (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run), and Ironman Canada in Whistler on July 27 (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run). My goal is to use these races to raise money for a good cause, and help demonstrate to the students at Harvard-Westlake what is possible in life through hard work and dedication. I also hope to demonstrate to them the connection between lessons learned in high school and carried forward to my time as an entrepreneur, high technology executive, and endurance athlete.
Please consider donating to help fund this amazing opportunity for these high school students.
Q: What is motivating me to do these races and raise money?
Three years ago, I almost died when I fractured my C2 vertebrae in a mountain biking accident. That near disaster brought into sharp focus how many life goals I still hadn’t accomplished. One of them was to compete at the world championship level in triathlon. It was a tough recovery, but with the loving support of my wife, family, friends, and coach, I am working through a multi-year training plan in the hopes of qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships.
The discipline, determination, commitment to hard work, ability to prioritize, and willingness to sacrifice are lessons which took shape in my life during my time at Harvard-Westlake. I owe a lot of my success to the foundations laid by my time at Harvard-Westlake, and another one of my unfulfilled life goals was to give something back to the school that gave me so much.
Q: Why is funding a startup weekend my personal cause?
I have been extremely fortunate to have worked with some of the great entrepreneurial leaders of our time (Bill Gates, George Soros, Jeff Bezos), and have also been the founder and CEO of my own software company. Entrepreneurship is the fuel of a growing economy. There were no programs like Startup Scramble available when I was in high school. Any opportunity to expose young minds to the opportunities in the world is not to be missed.
The advancement of STEM in our education system is critical to the future Makers of our economy. Education is important, and I am passionate about it. I am also very passionate about endurance athletics. An individual can learn a lot about themselves from competing in any endurance event. Just like the problems they will face when running their own business, or building the products of tomorrow, entrepreneurs and endurance athletes must excel at solving hard problems, balancing multiple and shifting priorities, and maximizing results. I believe that it is important to assist however I can in giving students venues to experience the thrill of entrepreneurship, and to demonstrate to them the balance one can achieve in life from work, family, and personal growth.
Q: Where will the money go?
The students and faculty at Harvard-Westlake are running a Startup Scramble on the weekend June 20th. This is the first Scramble organized, or targeted at, sub-collegiate students. This is my targeted fund raising vehicle to defray the costs of hosting this event. The funding covers the costs of the facility, the food, and other support for the students participating. The Scramble event site is here.
Q: Why raise money for Harvard-Westlake, and not, for example, a public school?
Harvard-Westlake was my proving ground. My experiences there taught me a great deal about myself, and who I would become. Despite being an undersized kid, the inclusive athletic environment of Harvard-Westlake taught me many valuable life lessons. I have carried those lessons forward, tackling many different athletic challenges in my life. The school motto roughly translates to "they can, because they think they can." I more or less live my life by it.
Due to my own personal connection with my alma mater, I have a long standing set of relationships which enable me to participate and have a voice. Harvard-Westlake has proven willing to pursue progressive and novel teaching methods, and planning for the startup weekend was already in progress. It is my full intent to learn as much as I can from this experience, and hopefully bring funding for startup weekends to other schools of all economic means.
Q: What kinds of problems will the kids be solving during this event?
Typical startup weekend type events tend to focus on software programming product ideas. The main reason is that the cost of getting started is low, and it’s easy for the participants to see outcomes of their work. However, they will be learning invaluable skills from working in teams to solve hard problems, creating business cases for the problems they attempt to solve, and ultimately presenting their work to faculty and other participants. These are key life building skills for whatever vocation the students ultimately pursue.
Q: How can I track the racing?