By Eli Haims and Elana Zeltser
Scott Becker ’05, who sold a company he co-founded to Google for $70 million last year, spoke to a nearly packed Rugby Auditorium Monday at break. He also met with students fourth period in the Emory Room, Upper School Mathematics Department Head Paula Evans said.
Wearing his old Harvard-Westlake P.E. shirt, Becker spoke to students about getting involved and succeeding in high stakes entrepreneurship. As a senior at Harvard-Westlake, he founded “Friendzee,” a site designed to be a replacement to Myspace, but by the time it was completed, Facebook had already filled the role. He spoke about how he failed numerous times to start different companies before founding Invite Media, a company which sells advertising space online.
“Luckily there is a long list online of other people failing,” Becker said.
He also said his experience during high school helped to prepare him for his business exploits. He said that computer science has been the most practical for his projects, as most of them involve a great deal of programming. Also, participating in the performing arts made him less shy and more comfortable talking to others. He believes that the true key to success is making connections and finding people willing to help out.
“Go and find mentors in whatever you want to do. Reach out to people,” he said.
He emphasized that creating a successful startup company is all about solving problems—turning an idea into reality. Becker said that he believes there has been a trend toward automation recently in industries, or as he put it, “making people even lazier.”
Becker, and the three other founders, started Invite Media when he was in his sophomore year at the University of Pennsylvania. After acquiring a $10,000 grant, within six months they had a company that, at its peak, was viewed by 80 million people per month.
Becker said he felt it was time for a new project, and left Invite Media. He hopes get more involved in the pharmaceutical industry. Since high school, he has been interested in biotechnology and curing cancer, and plans on investing money to solve problems in that field, as well as in cyberspace.