I spent the evening yesterday at the Startup Institute office. Frances showed me her Salesforce CRM and we navigated back our applications. Mine was from Fall 2014. It was a good reminder of why I came back to this town & who I’m working for. Also a little wild to look back.

Name a cool product. How does it demonstrate good design?
SOMA water filter. Sleek design that integrates the filtration system (functionality) without compromising the aesthetics or user experience. The goal is complete and the user is inspired by it’s design. Tesla’s new factory- designed to be carbon neutral. Will double the world’s lithium ion batteries and won’t hurt anybody/thing while doing it. Self-powered, self-sufficient, no waste: that’s good design because it’s going to inspire factory architects and promotes a sustainable future. The Hyperloop- good design because it integrates physics concepts to create an entirely new experience, innovates an industry, and protects the passenger from g-forces or physical harm. I appreciate this product (and Tesla factory) most because because product design isn’t just about the product as a Hyperloop, but also as it’s impact to the human condition and human progress.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I grew up in New York- first, in an abusive household and then when my dad left, to a single mom. It was my sister, mom and me. Things weren’t easy because money was tight and we were first generation Americans. Assimilation wasn’t easy. I was an angry kid. Lucky enough, a mentor found me through a church program and guided me out into football and hockey. I graduated with honors and a few Varsity letters. Went to community college to stay and help my mom out. A lot of my youth experiences inspired me. Then, it was mostly my mom and watching her persevere. I knew I had to fight through it with her. At college, I became student body president. Since then I’ve started 3 non-profits on 3 continents, built multiple student organizations funded by the likes of Dell and Microsoft, spoken at multiple international venues, and helped a lot of people hack their organization to growth. I was inspired by people like my mom who struggle everyday. I want to innovate for them.

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