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iVenture Welcomes Al Goldstein, CEO of Avant, to Kickoff Summer Session!

Today kicked off the first day of the 2016-2017 iVenture Accelerator! Following a welcome breakfast, entrepreneur-extraordinaire Al Goldstein joined the Fellows to speak about his journey co-founding three successful companies: Enova International, Pangea Properties, and AvantCredit. Goldstein shared some of the lessons he has learned along the way, his thoughts on the role of business, government, and philanthropy, as well as his advice for young entrepreneurs.

Goldstein focused on the importance of networks and advisors for young entrepreneurs, but also encouraged the Fellows to overcome any self-doubt based on age or lack of experience, stating: “lots of people will tell you your ideas are terrible. Your job is to listen to them, get their data points, but then draw your own conclusions.” He also emphasized the importance of committing fully to an entrepreneurial venture, stating his belief that one of the greatest challenges faced by student startups is the choice to focus full-time on their idea. During a Q&A, the iVenture Fellows were particularly interested in Goldstein’s thoughts on the potential of for-profit businesses to create social value, diversity in tech and entrepreneurship, and how to create a work-life balance.

During office hours, he coached seven of our startup teams, including ExoWear, Amber Ag, and CitiScape.

Goldstein recommended the book The Third Wave, written by America Online co-founder Steve Case, to iVenture Fellows working in internet and technology spaces.

Some direct feedback from our fellows:

In office hours, he made our team think about our values and what our consumer can gain from our product, and that way of thinking was a great step toward action for us.”

Al’s cut and dry attitude was helpful because it reinforced in us a drive to have greater brevity and precision in our pitch.

Al mentioned a quote that read ‘be fearful when people are greedy and greedy when people are fearful.’ This struck me as wise, and something I will strive to remember in my personal and professional ventures.

Fellows will continue to work with Goldstein throughout the summer, and will visit Avant’s offices on August 4th for the iVenture Demo Day event.

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