This past week, I had the privilege of spending time with 500 of the most excited, enthusiastic and energetic young entrepreneurs, nine incredibly talented Oxy students, and one fearless and inspiring Professor.
I’ve traveled in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with ten other Oxypreneurship leaders and students from Professor Khagram’s DWA/Econ 151 course: Entrepreneurial Leadership in the 21st century. We worked as Student Ambassadors for Global Startup Youth (GSY), a summit bringing 500 young entrepreneurs together to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues in the areas of education, health, environment and female empowerment. The students formed teams to build a working prototype of a mobile application that could address these issues. The winners of the event presented their application in front of the 4th Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which we also had the privilege to attend.
GSY is the first of its kind. Never before has a government sponsored 500 students (250 Malaysians and 250 students from over 100 countries around the world) to collaborate and work together on important issues of our time. One of the most memorable moments of our trips was when our entire team first walked into the hall that would be hosting the participants for the following three days. Brightly colored bean bags filled the entire room and posters with the now famous multi-colored hexagons hung from the ceilings. Dash Dhakshinamoorthy the mastermind of the entire event, stood on stage cheering “GSY, GSY!” and students joined him shouting and pumping their fists in the air as they filled the room. It was clear, this was going to be something special.
I met students from Kazakhstan, Morocco, Peru, Moldova, Lithuania – and that’s just the beginning of the list. Witnessing these students form teams and work tirelessly across language and cultural barriers was inspiring and humbling. Despite having flown in from far and wide (I heard stories of over 50 hour plane journeys) and being severely jetlagged, every participant was ready to get to work and contribute to his or her team.
In addition to the students, the event brought together amazing speakers and facilitators who have had prolific careers including Christina Brodbeck, one of the original founding members of YouTube, and Orion Henry, founder of Heroku and Roger Dickey, the founder of Mafia Wars. Despite their success and experience, every facilitator was incredibly down-to-earth and willing to mentor the teams. Being part of such a dynamic environment made achieving any of my goals or ambitions more real. I’d meet and talk with students and professionals who have already been making their way to their goals. Their drive and tenacity has been infectious, has motivated me to bring new energy to the work that I do and to Oxypreneurship as a whole.
Looking back at the last couple days, I’m moved most by the energy that filled the room. Every participant, mentor, speaker and leader brought an enthusiasm and commitment that turned a simple hall with colorful bean bags into a launching pad for cross-cultural connection and innovation that will continue to motivate young entrepreneurs around the world.