Quoted: on teens starting companies

“If I mess up, I go home and go to college. The worst that can happen is minimal.”

— Ryan Orbuch, 18, co-founder of Volley, a mobile-learning startup. He’s one of the teenagers featured in a California Sunday Magazine article titled “The Real Teens of Silicon Valley” and is quite quotable.

Orbuch moved to San Francisco from Boulder and lives with another teen entrepreneur. Besides his startup, he says he’s dealing with “adult things.”

“Did you know you needed insurance for your office?” he said. “And health insurance? I’ve never been to the doctor without my parents before.”

The article of course mentions how some in Silicon Valley have encouraged young people to think big and take risks. I’ve mentioned the Thiel Fellowships, which offer college students $100,000 over two years to take a break from school to start their own companies.

Back to Orbuch’s take on life: “One thing I’m really bothered by is the insularity of tech  — it’s narrowing. It’s pretty much all white dudes. It’s a fake bubble with a bunch of money, and we just go with it. I don’t know anyone who isn’t in tech. And sometimes it’s like, are there any of them? Are there girls? How do you find them?” And it’s not just girls he’s insulated from: “One thing about living here is I forget different sizes of people. Like babies  — I haven’t seen one in months. I forget how many sizes they come in. Old people I see more. I had an old Lyft driver the other day.”

Last word from Kristina Varshavskaya, who moved to San Francisco four years ago, when she was 17, to help her sister with a startup:

“The group of young guys here. A lot of them are treated like gods and wizards and heroes, and all the venture capitalists are waiting for their next magic thing, but they’re not doing anything that special. They’re just really young. I include myself in that.”


Photo from Associated Press


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