“People who tell you that they know what they’re doing are lying,” Alexis Ohanian said during his
presentation at Chapman University on January 23, 2014
. Alexis walked us through the history behind and how he got started with his partner Steve Huffman. While their first business idea was rejected, together they created one of the most successful websites in the world. He stressed to the audience that he had no idea what he was doing when he started – and not really sure what he is doing now – but that was not a reason to stop him and it should not be a reason to stop you from accomplishing your goal.

“We have an opportunity but it’s not guaranteed…if you start right now you are on the same level as everything else online,” Alexis said. He encouraged the audience of over 150 to ignore the competition that already exists. Just focus on developing an idea, a plan, and executing it well to succeed. He stresses that it is the execution, and not so much the idea itself, that will determine your success. As Alexis discusses in his book
Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will be Made, Not Managed
 the interesting thing about the Internet is that we have all an extraordinary amount of information at our fingertips. You can decide to learn something tomorrow and make it happen with the Internet.  We all have the opportunity to take advantage of all of this information, but it is up to us to make something from it.

During his presentation, Alexis spoke with Chapman University alumna Kimberly Wiig. Kimberly is the Orange County Network Director of Tech Coast Angels, an investment company for Southern California entrepreneurs. When considering what she looks for when considering a new investment, Kimberly said “it’s really important that the entrepreneur is all in…we look at the time you put in and if you’re dedicated.” She and Alexis agree that it takes drive to be an entrepreneur and you should work for something you are passionate about.

The appearance of such an accomplished and engaging speaker was made possible by the efforts of one our law school’s most entrepreneurial students, Shaun Sanders.


At the end of the event Alexis left the audience with a powerful message that, like most of his advice during the presentation, started out humorous: “When I played video games, I played my hardest when there were zero lives remaining…do that in life.” The crowd at Chapman University was very receptive to Alexis and his ideas. Many stayed after the event to purchase his new book (see below), get his autograph and take a picture with Alexis.

withouttheirpermissionflag-4Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law displays the Without Their Permission flag Alexis Ohanian gave to the students who helped host this event.


About Alexis Ohanian


Alexis Ohanian, entrepreneur and investor, is best known as the co-founder of the social news site
. Alexis majored in business and history with a minor in German at the University of Virginia. He also met his future co-founder Steve Huffman during freshman year move-in day at UVA. Alexis accomplishments include co-founding
, working for
, founder of
, Ambassador to the East for
Y Combinator
Small Empires
, and recent author
Without Their Permission