One of the University of Virginia’s best-known tech entrepreneurs came to the Darden School in April to share his journey from Grounds to startup success. Reddit Co-founder and Initialized Capital General Partner Alexis Ohanian, who registered the domain for the “front page of the Internet” at UVA’s Alderman Library, described to a packed Darden audience what he learned from his early successes and failures, what he looks for in an entrepreneur, and why the University environment is an ideal place to get started on your startup.
After a short-lived attempt at a mobile food ordering business, Ohanian and his co-founder, UVA alumnus Steve Huffman, launched Reddit, the hugely popular collection of commenting forums known as “the front page of the internet.”
Ohanian and Huffman sold Reddit to Condé Nast roughly a year after its founding. After helping to execute a turnaround of the company in recent years, Ohanian stepped away from Reddit’s daily activities in 2018 but remains on its board.
Today, Ohanian focuses his professional responsibilities with Initialized Capital, a San Francisco-based early stage venture capital firm with $500 million under management. Ohanian said the firm strives to offer the earliest possible funding rounds for startups. Notable investments have included Instacart, Coinbase and Patreon, among roughly 200 others.
“The really big ideas are the ones, especially at that stage when they are still so nascent, that seem to really push up on the boundaries of what feels normal,” said Ohanian. “Everything is a remix. There are very few things that are truly original, but it’s the original application and allocation of resources that makes the novel idea.”
Interested in entrepreneurship? The Darden School offers a host of opportunities to help aspiring entrepreneurs get their idea off the ground and offers dedicated scholarships in entrepreneurship, technology and innovation.