Part 1: Elix Lectures at University of California Campuses
by Daniela Schwartz
It’s not often that a high school student stands behind the podium on a university stage to give a lecture on entrepreneurship...
Over the summer, Elix Founder and Chief Executive Officer Isabella Liu and Chief Operating Officer Andrew Yates had the opportunity to speak at two University of California campuses about their experience of creating and managing Elix Incubator. Liu spoke at the University of California, Berkeley, and Yates spoke at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Here is part one of their story:
“Speaking at UC Berkeley was a great honor and a privilege. The opportunity to share my ideas on social entrepreneurship with future business leaders was surreal,” Liu said on her experience.
Sean Byrne, a Berkeley alumni and lawyer at Morrison and Forrester, invited Liu to be guest speaker at the university while he was teaching a summer course there. Byrne’s class on the Lean Startup method had roughly 35 students in it.
She spoke both about her experience as a teen entrepreneur and how she built Elix. Liu chose to focus on pivotal moments for Elix so that her audience could better visualize her lecture.
“Beyond just talking about what Elix does and what our goals are, I focused on the challenges and highlights we’ve gone through together as a company. In doing so, I outlined my four key ideas for any entrepreneur,” Liu said.
She continued by explaining the four essentials to creating a successful company: start with what you know best, create your own momentum, embrace accountability, and most importantly, overdo it.
“I swear by [the fourth key idea] most heavily because one can apply it to all areas of one’s life. In entrepreneurship and beyond, you should never cater to your team’s lowest common denominator; never change your agenda or your strategy to fit the needs of the person who is putting in the least effort,” Liu said.
This rule was most prevalent when she and her team were preparing for the Diamond Challenge (insert link to that story here). According to Liu, the Elix Diamond Challenge team put in roughly 35 hours of practice for a five minute pitch, but these long hours paid off when Elix walked away with an international award. This mentality is what allows Elix to thrive and what Liu’s audience connected with the most.
“It’s definitely unusual to see a 17-year-old get on a stage and start to talk about their company’s market share and international client base, but when explaining how Elix got to such places, I started seeing pencils flying,” Liu said. “It was like I was sharing Elix’s secrets of success. And the beauty of those secrets isn’t that they were necessarily technical advantages we’ve had, but rather mindset shifts that we’ve made together as a company.”