Amir the Entrepreneur

Amir Iravani

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Was there ever a time when you had an idea and wanted to start a business? Or wondered how interesting it would be to start one? Well, I did just that over the summer at Leangap–I created an idea into a real company with my team.

Leangap, a high-school startup incubator, located at UC Berkeley, is regarded as one of the most prestigious programs among other incubators, such as MIT Launch and Quarterzero. Despite its distinction, it had a few questions to be completed half-a-year before the program. Of the many students that apply, forty students are selected each year.

Fast forward to the day it started, June 24. We met our advisors and classmates and got to know each other. What shocked me most was the diversity in our group. There were students from China, Italy and Africa, to name a few. Interestingly, although we were from around the world, we had many similarities, but also differences that made each of the students engaging to talk to.

The first day of instruction was a pitch day where everyone presented their business idea. Three advisors with extensive experience in business, having founded multiple successful companies, judged and gave suggestions. Six ideas were chosen and we formed teams of five to six students.

My team consisted of students from Canada, Seattle, China and Indonesia. The rigor started right away. Within the first week, we were expected to create an MVP, or minimum viable product, a stripped-down version of our final version that would be rolled out to consumers. Our idea was an e-commerce website that sold unique and useful products from Asia. It was fairly simple to create, yet hard to source the products from China and Korea, especially since it was hard to get manufacturers to buy into the platform. After much testing, speaking to students on the Berkeley campus and advertising our products, we got our first sale. It was euphoric; after the countless hours of work we had put in, someone had believed in our products and bought one.

It’s hard to think past your next test, the next homework assignment, but there is so much more outside of school. Although I knew what career I wanted to pursue, Leangap gave me an insight that there are different paths and that you don’t have to have a desk job at Apple or other tech companies that many of us want to work at. There are numerous opportunities and people to learn from, a whole world to explore. We must always keep an open mind, think big, and execute.

In the end, albeit we did create our startup idea, what mattered most was what we learned from creating and applying it. We became more confident and learned invaluable life skills– something school does not teach but comes through exploring the real world. I’m glad to have attended Leangap; it taught me that there are endless possibilities in the world, relationships to be cherished and so much to learn–not through books, but in doing what you desire most.