Senior Spotlight: Jonny Netz
Could you tell us about the selection process for the Forbes Under 30 Scholarship?
The Forbes Under 30 Scholarship is given to the top 1,000 students around the U.S. who have demonstrated passion, leadership, and a thirst for knowledge. The selection process was fairly brief, just a series of short essays, but students from all corners and backgrounds of the country flew in to attend the educational and interactive Summit. It was truly amazing to hear everyone else's stories while learning about their experiences as a young leader.
How was your experience at the Forbes Under 30 Summit?
The Summit itself was particularly fascinating because of the variety of featured speakers who represented dozens of industries, company growth stages, and internal positions. The variety of speakers was truly phenomenal, including young entrepreneurs who were in the early stages of development, CEOs of companies doing $500M-1B+ in revenue like Shutterstock and Tinder, professional athletes such as Serena Williams, and other celebrities like the Chain Smokers, Quavo, and Kevin Durant. As an entrepreneur myself, I wanted to soak in as much information as possible, primarily from speakers who had just started their companies and were rapidly scaling. The early stages of company growth are so crucial to the ultimate longevity of a business, so I knew I had to take the opportunity to learn from those who have seen success, but more importantly, experienced and overcome failure. This was the perfect opportunity to listen, network, and ask questions to those who I aspire to be.
Who were your favorite guest speakers?
My favorite panel to listen in on was from four Venture Capitalists; raising money from any VC firm is extremely stressful and the vast majority of people don't know how to reach out to them, what to pitch, and what they look for. I was surprised to learn that VCs typically invest in the people, not the immediate numbers and metrics of your business; your interview and pitch is the time where they determine if your personality, drive, and character match what they're looking for. Hearing their advice made me realize that a business is almost human, that a big part of a company's success derives from the founders and the rest of the team. They gave plenty of honest tips that I'll carry with me and put to practice when the time comes.
What activities did you participate in?
My favorite activity to see was the Pitch Competition; the winning pitch received a large media package from Forbes to help them continue to expand and grow. There, I was able to see what constituted a good pitch while experiencing first-hand what strong, charismatic and effective business pitches consisted of.
What advice did you receive at the Summit that you will take with you going forward?
I think the biggest piece of advice I received was when building a company, try to solve an everyday problem that people face, and if you do, the business will flourish. This piece of advice was echoed throughout the Summit because oftentimes, people tend to solve a nonexistent, insignificant problem. At the end of the day, most entrepreneurs are learning on the go and are simply practicing every day - they aren't necessarily already 'professionals' or 'experts'. With that in mind, find a problem, provide a solution, and keep your customers at the forefront when making business-related decisions.
How did this conference impact your view of business?
This conference reinforced my understanding that it's okay to fail, that being an entrepreneur doesn't mean every decision you make needs to be final and perfect. But when you fail, analyze your mistakes, jump back up, and find a new way around the obstacle that knocked you down in the first place. As you get more experienced through time and practice, you'll be smarter and become more strategic when overcoming those obstacles.
Anything else you would like to share with us regarding your Forbes Under 30 experience?
ANYONE who's even just slightly interested in business and entrepreneurship should apply to become a Forbes Under 30 Scholar. The Summit is an incredible opportunity to learn about your passions and learn from those who have already made the mistakes for you.