By Anastassios Adamopoulos, Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 18, 2014
Students from the Ross School of Business, StartUM Entrepreneurship and TAMID Israel Investment Group at Michigan continued their missions to encourage innovation on a global scale, all while learning about tech startups Tuesday.
Aaron Fuchs, founder and CEO of the South African technology startup iXperience, discussed his experiences starting a technology firm with about 40 students at the Business school.
“The whole concept around iXperience is to help people get the skills that they need to succeed in the digital world,” Fuchs said.
The event was also intended to promote the company’s summer internship program. iXperinece hosts an eight-week summer internship program in Cape Town, South Africa. During the first four weeks, students focus on coding before working on technology projects with existing South African companies.
Fuchs said the program was created to meet the increasing demand for technological information in emerging markets, where there are fewer opportunities for a technical education.
Fuchs, who grew up in southern South Africa and said he didn’t come in contact with technology until he was 10 years old, asked students to think about their goals, assess their inspirations and determine their life’s purpose.
“What do you love doing?” he said. “What does the world need to be a better place? What can you be paid for and what are you good at? And where all these things intersect, is where your find your purpose exists and you can actually add so much more value to whatever it is that you are doing.”
He also encouraged students to interact with people who inspire and motivate them, as well as find mentors who can share their own experiences.
Fuchs noted that the most important assets one could have in a startup are coding skills and the ability to market a product, create user-friendly designs and develop the business.
“I accomplished X, measured by Y, by doing Z. You should go through every single line on your resume and apply this formula and see if you can actually see the results,” he said.
Fuchs also warned students about the challenges of launching a technology startup, saying they should prepare to work harder than ever before, face difficulties executing their idea, make decisions of great importance to the future of the company and multitask jobs that aren’t necessarily in their job description.
Fuchs also talked about his own experience at a Wall Street firm after graduating from Yale University. While he said he gained a lot of valuable experience, after two years he decided he needed to do something new, which lead him to joining Prodigy Finance, a company that gives loans to international postgraduate business school students in Cape Town. There, Fuchs learning computer coding, a skill he said is valuable to everyone.
“Once I had done that, it was one of the most empowering things I actually had done in my life, because now I had the power to build things that could be distributed around the world in a matter of seconds,” he said.
LSA freshman Rebecca Leeman said she attended the event because she is interested in going to South Africa and noted friends who study computer science have showed her coding is a valuable skill.
“I learned about the summer program but I also learned life skills that I wasn’t expecting to learn,” she said.
Fuchs said he hopes iXperience will expand to 10 cities around the world, with 150 students in each summer program within three years. They company is also considering adding new courses, such as consulting, and building a venture capital fund finance the ideas of student interns.