In The Beginning
TBF was started way back in 2007. Back then, it look like this. Yeah we know . We did not exactly feel the green either. From his insight early on, he realized that there should be a place for teens to talk about business online since most of his peers didn’t understand entrepreneurship.
The site changed hands several times before I purchased the site through Flippa. Yes, the original sale is still listed! It was the second website purchased by Jack. He knew he wanted a forum and found this one particular interesting. Although he was not a teen, how he wished he had found entrepreneurship when he was one. Determined to provide a better resource for future young entrepreneurs, he took over the site and started connecting with all the members.
Almost 6 months later while talking to a member of the forum, Jack discovered how the member’s eBay business had more customer feedback than his own parents who were doing it full-time! Surprised, he wanted to find out how he did it. This marked the first interview TBF conducted.
After that, TBF experimented with doing audio and video interviews with other young, successful entrepreneurs and also some veterans. All the interviews can be seen here.
By this point, Jack brought his good friend and business mentor Paul McNeal onto the site. Paul is a natural born leader and mentor. After seeing what some of the members were doing, he naturally got involved. At that point, they started thinking of ways to effect more lives through TBF.
After Paul came back from SXSW, he said how great it would be if TBF could throw an experience just like it, except do it ALL LIVE ONLINE. It was crazy. Something like that has never been done before. By this point, TBF had conducted enough interviews online and had enough relationships with entrepreneurs that although difficult could actually be done.
They both sat on the idea for about a week and then decided to go for it. They had nothing to lose. Very quickly, we reached out to 10 of the people we interviewed before, to see, if they would be up for the idea; they were. More than that, they were thrilled we were doing something for young entrepreneurs and wanted to be a part of it. Some of the early speakers included Rob Salkowitz, Sarah Cook, Shonika Proctor, Connell Wise, Roman Price, and Ben Williams.
Soon after, many more speakers came on including Yanik Silver, Matt Mickiewicz, and of course the keynote by Guy Kawasaki, the former Chief Evangelist at Apple. How Jack pulled that off is a closely guarded secret and he’ll only tell you in person. The final count of speakers came out to 18 and are all listed here. Special thank-you goes out to Joseph Warren of CoCreativ for being one of the speakers. Some of the speakers dialed in live from other countries including India, Chile, and the UK.
And then began the media circus in promoting the event, dropping press releases, and creating partnerships. Alex (a friend and member of the Entrepreneurial club at UVA), suggested that they would be interested in promoting it. The light bulb went off and we inquired about holding the summit live on site at UVA. Why not? So, that indeed did happen and students were able to interact with the speakers directly via live video.
So in the months to follow, both Jack and Paul skillfully pulled together the right technology to make it happen. Matching up a varied mix of technology, we were able to broadcast out a virtual summit live around the world. The TBF website was broadcasting the speakers live from their location, coupled with their Powerpoint Presentation.
In addition, when it came time for Q&A, both the speaker and the teen asking the questions were both on screen; Jack and Paul were quite amazed that they pulled it off. In the end, everything was done on a single MacBook (not even a MacBook Pro) with an additional monitor.
The event didn’t go entirely smooth the first day but by the second day, all the kinks were figured out. In the 3 day event that occurred from August 22nd – 24th, over 600 people attended virtually to the first ever LIVE global entrepreneurship conference.
2012 and Beyond
Paul and Jack continues are continuing to find ways to impact more lives with TBF. One of our goals is to make TBF a more social platform to help foster better interaction amongst the members. While inspiring young entrepreneurs is their life work, Paul and Jack are also entrepreneurs working on other projects. If you want to connect with them, feel free to tweet them: @Teenbizforum or @TBFMentor. If you don’t have twitter you can email them at jack at jointbf.com and paul at jointbf.com