The other month, we had entrepreneur, author, TEDx speaker and Founder of Next Gen Summit, Justin Lafazan on our weekly Podcast, The Hustle Sold Separately (Episode 17). Over the course of a brief 30 minutes, my business partner Matt (hdfmagazine.com) and I spoke with Justin on all things entrepreneurship, journey, motivation and vision.
Justin is an incredibly inspiring dude (he is only 19!) and since chatting, Justin has introduced me to many members of Next Gen Summit, an environment for young entrepreneurs to connect, collaborate, and inspire. They bring together some of the coolest, most badass millennials once a year to hang for a weekend and learn from each other. Every speaker is under 25, they’re usually Forbes 30 under 30, Time 25 under 25 or Thiel fellows. Not just entrepreneurs but also scientists inventors and the youngest elected politicians in the world.
Forbes called NGS 1 in 5 MUST-ATTEND events for 2016
Entrepreneur Magazine said they are 1 of 7 best events for entrepreneurs under 30.
More importantly, from my interactions with last year’s attendees, Next Gen Summit was repeatedly described on as “life-changing,” and “the most fun” the attendees have ever had at a conference.
With the 2016 event on the horizon (June 2016), I sat down with Justin to see what the hype was all about and see how an event “so fun” could result in some serious business – startups there raised $1,000,000+ from investors during their pitch competition and nearly a dozen new businesses were formed and 3 incorporated on-site.
Why did you start NGS?
Next Gen Summit operates on the fundamental belief that young entrepreneurs have the potential to change the world and solve problems like never before, but only if they’re provided the resources needed. That’s where we come in.
Too many young people are falling into society’s path, deterred from creating opportunities and solving problems due to the resource gap presented.
We want to empower young people with the social capital, education, inspiration, and investment needed to achieve their wildest dreams and work together to solve the world’s biggest problems.
What makes it different?
Other conferences go like this: sit in an audience, listen to a keynote by some famous entrepreneur, awkwardly hand out business cards in the lobby, and go home. Millions of Americans will attend some type of conference during their career, but they don’t yield any result. We’re destined to change all that.
Attendees who come to our conference walk away with everything they need to be successful on their path. Through our proprietary networking activities, we curate and foster meaningful connections that are designed for maximum and strategic growth. Through our investment panel, we fund ventures, whether they be dorm room startups or full-fledged companies. Through our workshops, we promote interaction between the world’s most successful young people, and those looking to learn from them. And through our mentorship network, we inspire and motivate.
Forbes called NGS 1 in 5 MUST ATTEND events for 2016. Why do you think this is?
Our inaugural event went really great last year:
- 17,000 people viewed our livestream
- Startups raised $1,000,000+ from investors during our pitch competition
- Nearly a dozen new businesses, and 3 incorporated on-site
The most motivated young entrepreneurs from all walks of life (science, politics, business) came together, and worked together, to help each other grow.
And this year we’re destined to be 10 times bigger.
We’re bringing in speakers that have achieved more by 20 than others have in a lifetime.
We’re still releasing new speakers each month, but some highlights to look forward to:
- Jacob Goodman, founder of Fresh Prints, who sold his first million dollar company at 22
- Mahbod Moghadam, founder of Everipedia, who created the company after founding Rap Genius in 2009
- Patrick Ambron, cofounder of Brand Yourself, who turned down a record $2 MM investment on Shark Tank
We’ll have the staple investment panel with $100 MM of investable assets ready to put cash into bright minds and innovative startups, all happening live during the event.
We’re bringing in admissions directors from the top colleges in America; founders of billion dollar brands; lawyers, accountants and marketers to serve as on-the-spot mentors; reporters from industry-leading publications present to cover the work our young attendees are doing.
This year’s event is in New York City, and we’ll be bringing our unparalleled networking events to the Big Apple for some surprises that’ll be revealed in the coming months.
For those who can’t attend, there will be a live-stream available.
But for those who can, we encourage you to visit us, engage with us, have fun with us, and see what a real collaborative community is all about.
Share a unique story from NGS
Ramon Berrios was the typical teen in high school: bored with the school system, and frustrated with the way teenagers are treated.
He came to NGS, not the CEO of a startup, but a kid from Puerto Rico who knew he was meant to do more.
We paired Ramon with mentors, investment opportunities, and all types of educational resources he needed.
Now? He made friends for life with some of the most successful young people around; he hosted his own young entrepreneur event for the most talented in Puerto Rico; he launched an apparel startup with endorsements from industry leaders; he brought on a co-founder, and is seeing major growth. Most importantly? He’s happy.
What observations have you made about young entrepreneurs?
Our conference hinges on one principle we hold true for young entrepreneurs: that they’re willing to collaborate rather than compete.
The old, conventional wisdom says to think small, and think closed – don’t share information, don’t help each other out, don’t collaborate. Instead, keep your ideas closed, small, and held tightly to chest.
Now, young people more than ever want to work together. They’re sharing introductions to top folks in their network; they’re teaching each other marketing and fundraising skills; they’re talking about new business ideas, and collaborating to solve the world’s biggest problems.
What does mentorship mean to young entrepreneurs today?
Mentorship means throwing the bullshit out the window. No buzzwords; no cliches; no fairytales. Mentorship is sharing the journey of success how it really happens – the darkest days, the biggest hustles, the sleepness nights.
Mentorship also means access to peers. Too often, young people think of mentors in an abstract way – an old college professor, or a grandparent. FALSE! The biggest mentors can be peers, someone who has achieved what you want to achieve, and is going through what you are currently going to.
The best mentors are willing to share; they’re honest, and transparent; they’re accessible.
What young people also forget about mentors is that you don’t have to listen to everything they say. We urge our attendees to use the Hand-In-The-Sand method – take all the advice you can find, but actively ignore most of it, except that which resonates with you.
Advice for young entrepreneurs?
Know that you’re not facing these challenges alone. The pressures from society to follow a certain path, study a particular major, and eventually accept a specific job are only as big as you allow them to be.
Focus on your individual purpose and create a mission. Set goals along the way, and seek out help when you need it. NEVER be afraid to ask for assistance; no one is perfect, and we certainly don’t get it right the first time around.
Find a support team. Whether it be composed of your family, friends, or teachers, form a group that you trust to provide honest feedback when you need it. You’ll be thankful you have others to lean on if the time comes.
Chase your dream. Too many Americans wake up each day unexcited, burnt out, and apathetic. Don’t be one of them. Find something that lights you up, and spend each and every day focused and inspired.
You can learn more about Next Gen Summit here