Alexis Ohanian Live at LaSells

redditalienWhat can Alexis Ohanian teach you about starting a new business? That all depends on what the words “search engine optimization” mean to you, I suppose. But the short version is that the 30-year-old web entrepreneur and co-founder of Reddit knows a thing or two about “harnessing the power of the Internet,” if that phrase doesn’t sound too douchey.

Aside from co-founding the most popular social news site in the universe, Ohanian also co-founds new Internet businesses with the same frequency that I change my socks.

I know what you’re thinking, “whoa, three new businesses a month?”

Well maybe not quite that many, but the dude has what might be described as a Midas touch for this sort of thing. After founding Reddit, he went on to start Hipmunk, a popular travel site, and Breadpig, an innovative publishing catalyst for independently minded creative types.

He’s currently on a speaking tour of 77 colleges in support of his recent book, Without Their Permission. He’ll appear at OSU on Thursday, Jan. 30.

“The goal of the book tour is to give people a blueprint of how to start being entrepreneurial and make the world suck less,” says Ohanian about the tour, “The Internet has lowered the barriers to building something awesome and everyone should take advantage of that.”

The goal of the talk is simple: “It’s the book and the talk I wish I’d had before I’d gotten started on my entrepreneurial journey,” he says.

The talk is geared mostly toward students, but Ohanian sees value for anyone who has interest in becoming their own boss and making the world “suck less.” More importantly, he sees high value for people living in relatively small communities such as ours.

“One of the messages of this tour is that startup communities can thrive anywhere, not just in major cities like New York and San Francisco. So everyone who is interested in starting something that makes the world suck less should look at the qualities of a region (like mid-Oregon) that some industries see as a disadvantage and see how to turn them into an advantage.”

But how do we bring our rural neighbors into the exciting future the Internet has opened for us? Not just for their growth as entrepreneurs, but for businesses needing customers.
Ohanian’s prescription is simple: access.

“Making sure they’ve got access (millions of Americans still don’t have broadband) and showing them how they can help themselves through the Internet. It could be as simple as starting their first Etsy store…” that’s how he says we can all become Internet moguls.

by Ygal Kaufman

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