[quote style=”boxed”]If you are hungry enough and pursue your vision fanatically, then you will find a way to make it happen. When your idea becomes an obsession and your friends and family are telling you that you need to focus on other things, you know you have found the motivation it takes to build something amazing.[/quote]
Jared Kleinert is passionate about business development and using business as a vector to improve society. He is about to launch Synergist, a crowdsourcing platform for social entrepreneurs.
For Jared, 2012 was a year full of opportunity and personal growth. Over the summer, he held simultaneous internships remotely with 15Five and Grockit while holding two part-time jobs to bootstrap capital for his startup. At Grockit, he was part of the marketing team to successfully launch Learni.st as an iOS app, where it has flourished. In August, Jared was part of the winning team at Miami’s first Lean Startup Machine workshop. He also was part of a winning team at Startup Weekend Boca Raton in October. In November, Jared was invited to the Under 20 Summit hosted by the Thiel Foundation, bringing together the top young entrepreneurs from across the world.
Currently, Jared is finishing development on Synergist. He is also running a blog called AliveNDead about embracing uncertainty and risk in entrepreneurship, and he continues to intern for 15Five. In January 2013, he will take part in Uncollege’s Hackademic Camp and The Intersection Event at Google. Jared is currently a 17 year old junior at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton, Florida.
What are you working on right now?
I’m about to launch Synergist, a platform that allows social entrepreneurs to meet potential co-founders online, collaborate in a shared workspace, and fund their new projects. We focus on helping visionaries start a venture from the ground up by connecting them to the right people, giving them the tools they need to work with a dispersed team, and the outlet to crowdsource capital. A portion of all company revenues are donated to organizations like Kiva to further support the entrepreneurial community.
I also just launched AliveNDead with Pulkit Jaiswal, a Stanford stop-out I met at the Thiel Foundation’s Under 20 Summit in November. AliveNDead is a blog about risk-taking and uncertainty in entrepreneurship. So far, we have about 10 extremely motivated young entrepreneurs contributing articles and time towards it and we are excited to see where it will go.
In my spare time (if there is such a thing for me), I intern remotely for a start-up in San Francisco called 15Five helping companies improve the way they communicate internally.
Where did the idea for Synergist come from?
I want to change the world. With some experience in business development from internships I’ve held at Grockit and 15Five, I thought I could apply what I’ve learned to inspire and support social entrepreneurs, who can in turn reform multiple different fields. In this way, I would be able to catalyze change in a variety of fields in multiple ways through supporting various projects. With crowdsourcing, this is possible, and I became a Synergist helping others to build successful social enterprises.
What does your typical day look like?
Since I am only 17, I still go to high school. Typically, I will wake up at 5:45 and fire off emails to my developers in India while I am still half asleep. School goes from 7:30 to 2:30, and after that it is a rapid pace back and forth between schoolwork (for 7 AP classes) and work-work (Synergist, AliveNDead, and 15Five). Over the summer, I held two remote internships for tech start-ups in the Bay Area and two part-time jobs to save up money, leaving me running around all over the place and incredibly busy. I am definitely a do-er, and that has allowed me to capitalize on given opportunities and get ahead.
How do you bring ideas to life?
If you are hungry enough and pursue your vision fanatically, then you will find a way to make it happen. When your idea becomes an obsession and your friends and family are telling you that you need to focus on other things, you know you have found the motivation it takes to build something amazing.
It doesn’t hurt to have money saved up for the day when you finally do have the perfect idea. That will come in handy.
Also, I try to instill my passion and excitement for new projects into those I’m interested in working with. That is how I’ve built a team around AliveNDead despite a definite goal or vision for the movement ahead. Just like the theme of the blog, we are embracing uncertainty for the road ahead and seeing how a movement will form.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Social entrepreneurism is on the rise. More people are using business to address problems in society, and more tools are being made available for these innovators. It isn’t like they are all doing this without personal benefit. The new wave of social entrepreneurs understand the value of a triple bottom line of profit, people, and the environment, and are using this to grow more sustainable businesses that have more impact and improve the world we live in.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked for one night as a bus boy at a nice restaurant called Mateos. From the second I walked in, it was obvious that organization was not a main priority. I didn’t know what time I was working until, where I would be positioned, or whose job it was to train me on my first shift. Come dinner time, the wait staff were all a**-holes, the scene was hectic, and I knew it wasn’t where my talents were best served.
I never showed up after that for a second shift. From the experience I learned the importance of treating your employees well, and I also learned the value of communication in an organization. Both of those things are crucial to successful companies.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t change a thing. The challenges I’ve faced, hardships I’ve encountered, and mistakes I made in both my business and personal life have helped to make me the person and entrepreneur I am today. I have been very fortunate to get some door-opening opportunities, and I plan to continue to make new opportunities and make the most out of those I already have.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I do. It is silly to say, but if you aren’t “doing”, you are “doing nothing”. The only way I am able to juggle everything is by constantly having something to do. It is acceptable if you do something wrong as long as you learn from it, but you are dead wrong if you are sitting back doing absolutely nothing.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When I was 15, I tried to start NowIGetIt.com, a web app offering affordable online tutoring and access to shared notes, study guides, and test prep material. I made tons of business mistakes that have taught me important lessons I apply today. I also didn’t realize how saturated the marketplace was until I interned at Grockit and learned more about the ed-tech industry.
Before launching, I decided to pivot to working on something I could have impact with. I had to start from scratch essentially, but now I am almost ready to launch Synergist!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Computers (or any electronic) give off harmful radiation. See if there is a way to block this radiation from harming humans or, better yet, find a way to harness this radiation in order to energize humans. A technology like this could have serious health benefits as well as I/O benefits such increased employee output and minimization of stress.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would change how businesses view corporate-social responsibility. I feel that businesses should incorporate helping society (through some charitable action, environmental change in production, or other means) as a strategy to achieve sustainability and increase the impact of a corporation, rather than do socially beneficial activities as a way to receive tax breaks or improve PR. Most businesses, if not all, should learn to adopt a triple bottom line, which will make their business more sustainable in the long term.
I am trying to break the surface in solving this issue by empowering social entrepreneurism through Synergist, but there is a lot of work to be done and a culture change in business methodologies is needed.
Tell us a secret.
To the outside world, it looks as though I have everything in order. My face looks stoic and I normally keep my cool. However, on the inside, I am constantly thinking and worrying at a dangerous pace. Things can get very chaotic.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
1) Mailchimp – It is the best way to send quality emails to a list of people. Excellent marketing tool.
2) 15Five – OK, I’m slightly bias here, but 15Five can help employees be heard by their managers and senior level management teams. It allows problems to be handled easily and efficiently. Successes can be celebrated. Overall, company communication improves and the organization as a whole benefits greatly.
3) Themes for WordPress Blogs – Whether you snag a free theme or pay for one, adding a theme to your WordPress blog helps in distinguishing yourself from the masses. Also, it takes away the pains you would have in trying to code something yourself.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Lean Startup hands-down. It teaches you how to build and run a business more like an infinite series of experiments rather than hoping and praying for your business to be successful. These lessons are applicable in most facets of business and life, and gets you to think about how to systematically create success.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
Steve Case – He obviously knows his stuff and others in the tech industry should take note of what the Founder of AOL says.
Forbes – They always post amazing articles that are perfect for researching while surfing the web.
Dave McClure – The founder of 500 Startups speaks the truth and isn’t afraid to say what he thinks.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laugh on a daily basis. I have great friends and family to fall back on. Whenever my brother’s best friend Noah Centineo is in town (he recently moved to Beverly Hills for his budding acting career), I find myself rolling on the floor with laughter to the point that I find it hard to catch a breath. He is probably the funniest person I know.
Who is your hero?
My mother. Without a doubt. She is the strongest person I know, raising two sons as a single mother. We have never gone without even in times of financial struggle. She works extremely hard and has provided my brother and I with amazing opportunities and grasp on the world. I get my “street-smarts” and drive from her along with incredible support of my path and actions.
Did I create value with my time?
On good days, I would answer “yes”. I strive to spend my time in ways that add value in some regard to the projects I work on.
Is there more positivity than negativity in your life?
Lately, I have been very good about removing negativity from my life. This includes opportunities that are taking up too much time for what they are worth, people that are negative in any regard, or stress. I find that the more positivity I create and surround myself with, the better I function.
Synergist Website: www.synergi.st ***Launching early 2013
AliveNDead Website: www.alivendead.com
15Five Website: www.15Five.com
Jared Kleinert on Twitter: @jaredkleinert
Jared Kleinert on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaredkleinert
Jared Kleinert’s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org