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"Up in the Ivory Tower or Down in the Trenches: What You Need to Know Before Taking the Leap to Start Your Own Business"

A Whiting-Turner Lecture: October 4, 2012

Alex Mehr '03

Alex Mehr '03, co-founder of Zoosk, gave a Whiting-Turner Lecture on October 4.

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Biography

Alex Mehr '03 (@alexmehr) is the co-founder and co-CEO of Zoosk, the romantic social network with 15 million monthly active users from 70 countries. Zoosk's 2011 revenue surpassed $97 million -- doubling year over year. Alex co-founded Zoosk in 2007 alongside Shayan Zadeh, while attending the MBA program at the University of California, Berkeley. To date, the company has raised over $40M in venture funding. Alex holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Clark School. Prior to starting Zoosk, he worked as an engineer for NASA and collaborated on several manned and unmanned space flights. In his spare time, Alex is a motorcycle enthusiast and enjoys hiking with his dog 'Lexi,' an adorable Rottweiler mix.

Abstract

Are you constantly coming up with ideas for new businesses but you've never actually pursued any of them? Have you ever wondered what it takes to build one of those ideas into a new company? In this talk, I'll share my approach to evaluating new ideas and business models—knowing how to assess the viability of a new idea is particularly important when you're still on the fence about starting a new company. I'll give you some practical tips on execution and rapid iteration once you've settled on an idea. Finally, I'll share my experience as a "student-preneur" and why, as a student, you are at the best point in your life to take on the risks involved in starting a company. This lecture is based on what I’ve learned building my own company, as well as advising other early-stage entrepreneurs. You can’t find this stuff in your grandma’s entrepreneurship class.