Babson Finalists in Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year Contest
Babson College, the educator, convener, and thought leader of Entrepreneurship of All Kinds™, propels its students and graduates to take initiative and make a difference. Daquan Oliver and Alexander Debelov are examples of two such persons - finalists in Entrepreneur Magazine's 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year contest.
Daquan Oliver, a Babson undergraduate and finalist in the “College” entrepreneur category for his non-profit Recesspreneurs, aims to empower at-risk and disadvantaged youth by using entrepreneurship to teach students vital skills of success to create opportunities for themselves and others.
Oliver observed that children who come from low-income and impoverished communities are often left to internalize their socioeconomic status and the hardship associated with it because of a lack of role models, opportunity, and hope within their community.
“After volunteering at an after-school homework program, I saw an opportunity to completely revamp and revise the curriculum to create what is now known as Recesspreneurs”, said Oliver.
When citing the mission of Recesspreneurs, Oliver states that:
“These youth require empowerment, proper education, and sufficient access to resources so that they can break the cycle of class immobility. Entrepreneurship is a tool students can use to empower themselves by implementing ideas into actionable change to alter their situation. With proper understanding of the power of action, confidence-building exercises, and mentors for guidance, students at the lower socioeconomic ranks can take the steps necessary to change their conditions for the better.”
As part of Recesspreneurs, students build their own companies, acquire leadership positions, create presentations, and learn to integrate their passions and life experiences into their businesses.
“Students learn that entrepreneurship is a mentality and lifestyle, with lessons applicable to everyday life,” said Oliver. “Students will be encouraged to take initiative in decision-making processes, learn to work within team environments and subsequently foster strong support systems."
Babson graduate, Alexander Debelov '10, is nominated in the “Emerging” entrepreneur category and is tackling a different problem – how do you get a video to go viral? How do you even get people to see your video?
“There are over a million videos being uploaded to YouTube every day and 95% of them get less than 1,000 views, “says Debelov. “No matter how funny, appealing or viral your video is, it's not going to go viral unless enough people discover that video and begin sharing it.”
For these reasons, Debelov founded Virool - a tool that helps anyone get noticed. A self-serve platform, Virool distributes videos over 30 seconds long across its network of Facebook apps, mobile games and blogs.
“We are changing the way advertising is done on the Internet and growing really fast at doing it. Virool has grown from signing up 500 advertisers in May 2012 to signing up over 30,000 advertisers in May 2013. The company currently works with over 115,000 advertisers and helps them promote their videos to their target demographic through our network,” Debelov says.
Currently, reaching 1 million viewers per day, Virool’s mission isn’t just about creating the next YouTube sensation a la Justin Beiber. Every month the company donates 500k views to clients whose videos promote a positive message and are aimed at helping society.
Virool already has a successful track record. The company was involved with helping terminally ill Zach Sobiech spread his legacy through his music during his final months, as well as getting over 150,000 people to watch video "Meals Per Hour” - a video sponsored by Toyota that donated one to the food bank in New York City for every one viewer.
When going to vote, another finalist in the “Established” entrepreneur category also is represented by Babson. Dream Products manufactures and markets Dream Water, a natural, fast-acting 2.5 Oz liquid shots with zero calories and no preservatives, which help consumers, relax, fall asleep and improve overall sleep quality. Joseph Lekach, a Babson 2009 graduate, was one of the company’s first employees. Since then, the company has acquired Babson alums Mairon Braindwaijan and Ricardo Ramierz.
Voting closed on September 17. The winner of the college category will receive, among other prizes, $5,000 in seed money to help launch his/her business idea. The winners of each category will be profiled in the January issue of the magazine and honored at the luncheon portion of the upcoming 2014 Growth Conference in New Orleans.
“These finalists are significant contributors to their respective industries,” said Amy Cosper, VP/editor in chief at Entrepreneur. “We are excited to see how the small business community responds during the voting period and find out which entrepreneurs stand out to their peers."
To view Recesspreneurs, visit www.entrepreneur.com/e2013college.
To view Virool, visit www.entrepreneur.com/e2013emerging.
To view Dream Products, visit www.entrepreneur.com/e2013.
About Babson College
Babson College is the educator, convener, and thought leader for Entrepreneurship of All Kinds™. The College is a dynamic living and learning laboratory, where students, faculty, and staff work together to address the real-world problems of business and society -- while at the same time evolving our methods and advancing our programs. We shape the leaders our world needs most: those with strong functional knowledge and the skills and vision to navigate change, accommodate ambiguity, surmount complexity, and motivate teams in a common purpose to create economic and social value. As we have for nearly a half-century, Babson continues to advance Entrepreneurial Thought and Action® as the most positive force on the planet for generating sustainable economic and social value. For information, visit www.babson.edu.