Today I would like to elaborate on a fortunate opportunity that I have earned in the past few months. Here are my plans for the near future as I graduate from high school next week:
Peter Thiel announced the selection of 24 fellowship recipients for his new program 20 Under 20. The Theil Foundation has granted each fellow $100,000 to purse technological advancement over two years while they stop out of school. I am honored and proud to be selected for the Thiel Fellowship, and I will officially begin in December 2011. In the mean time, I plan to continue the development of my new venture in education as I enroll at Wake Forest University for the fall semester. To be clear, I am currently working on Ingenic and plan to do so for the remainder of the year, and beyond.
There has been a lot of speculation and discussion regarding the risks of dropping out of college to participate in this program. Lee Ann Womack describes the final dilemma of this fellowship proposition the best: “If you get the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.” In other words, the reality of this program is that if you are capable of executing on a technological innovation now, then now is the time to get started. Among the other fellows, most are already enrolled at our nation’s elite colleges. My decision to manage my startup and take classes at Wake Forest this fall stems from a variety of factors. Given that my startup aims to tackle an education problem, I believe that it is important to fully understand and experience all levels of education before setting out to transform it. I am excited for the opportunity to be on a campus that has initiated leading efforts to integrate technology in the lives of teachers and students.
The most incredible part of this journey thus far is the wide-ranging feedback and support offered by nearly everyone who has learned of my opportunity. I would describe the series of events during the past months as a welcomed kick-start on my plans to change education. Peter Thiel’s program is living proof that credentials are merely a small part in the success of the most capable innovators in our past. Instead, the will to tackle a worldwide problem with creativity, passion, and enthusiasm will propel you farther than any undergrad, masters, or doctorate degree from Princeton University.
In my upcoming future, I am working tirelessly to build a web-based tool for educators to bring their classrooms up to date with the instantaneous digital age. During my high school experience I witnessed first hand the social media revolution and transformative nature of mobile devices. However, I am certain that the digital experiences that kids live and breathe today have not made an effective transfer into education. Instead, the rise of digital media in every facet daily lives has compounded the problems of unengaged and unmotivated students. The same can be said for nearly every teenager in America.
From a high level, learning is best summarized as a continuous feedback loop. Due to the repetitive nature of a teachers job today, the limited feedback that they offer to students is inadequate. Ingenic will shorten the learning feedback loop through online lessons and visual learning management. As nearly every aspect of our lives adapts to the digital age, Ingenic will help fulfill the need of effective and inexpensive educational technology in our schools today.
Please follow my progress on education entrepreneurship on this blog and specific product developments on Ingenic.com.
P.S. I am a triplet with two sisters going to college during the next four years. It’s going to be interesting to observe the contrasting experiences among my siblings.
To get an idea of my personal thoughts and reactions to the Thiel Fellowship, please watch this TechCrunch TV interview: