Computer Science Major, Industrial Design and Math Minors
White would go on to travel to hackathons down the east coast at Maryland, Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, and of course, our very own VT Hacks. “Hackathons were how I got connected within the computer science community here at Tech.” White is a sophomore studying computer science with minors in both industrial design and math. “I saw these students creating all this crazy cool stuff in 24-36 hours. I learned that it’s possible to create cool stuff very quickly. I was hooked.”
In his first semester at Virginia Tech, White became an active member in not only VT Hacks, but the Entrepreneur Club (E-Club) as well. “I knew I wanted to get involved right off the bat so I went to Gobblerfest where I discovered the E-Club and met Hayden Lee (former E-Club president and Virginia Tech alumnus).” Lee acted as an indirect mentor for White, connecting him with other computer science majors in the startup space and eventually passing the torch to him within E-Club. White now serves as the president of the E-Club and has implemented several new initiatives with the guidance of entrepreneurial gurus in the community including Michael Rihani, Co-founder of Koofers, Nathan Latka, Founder of Heyo; Christina Pugh; Co-founder of VirtualU; and Alex Obenauer, Co-founder of Mindsense, to name a few.
Thus far, White has succeeded in expanding the club’s membership beyond the disciplines of computer science and business and instituted a tiered membership system that’s helped the club retain members and promote active involvement within the club.
The new membership system has also yielded a renewed and increased interest in workshops and events. “This fall E-Club sponsored the 1000 Pitches competition to encourage not just current E-Club members, but students from every discipline, to speak up and pitch their ideas.” The virtual pitch competition proved successful, with five winners at Virginia Tech.
“If we needed any validation, we found it in one of the teams who pitched who told us that 1000 Pitches is what motivated them to come up with their idea in the first place. They’re now actively pursuing their idea out of NuSpark.”
The club has even greater plans for this semester including what can be compared to a small-scale startup weekend. “’Build With: ______’ will be a great opportunity to bring together a lot of different groups of Virginia Tech students to work on whatever projects they feel passionate about.” E-Club is targeting different student organizations and inviting them to participate in an effort to break down the silos of excellence here at Virginia Tech. “If an English major comes to Build With: ______ with an idea for a short film and no experience in filmography, that’s awesome. If it’s a marketing student with an idea for the next great app, that’s cool too. There will be students with experience in filmography and application development. It’s all about teaming up and connecting with one another.” As of now, White is still aiming to have 10-15 different student organizations represented at the event, which will take place on April 17. “In the future we want Build With: ______ to become even more casual and are hoping to hold it monthly as of next year.”
Between classes and obligations as E-Club president, White hasn’t let his own entrepreneurial aspirations take a backseat. White and E-Club vice president Ojas Mhetar, junior, co-founded Two Beards and Fro, a design firm with projects ranging from a location based radio application to an application designed to find and return Hokie Passports on campus. The team of three, the third co-founder working out of NOVA, is even in talks with a startup in California who learned of their projects and is looking to hire them on a contract basis.
Looking back, White attributes the majority of the opportunities he’s been given to the first few weeks of his freshman year of college. “During the first couple of weeks I really put myself out there and I found that if you ‘do’ more than you ‘talk’ doors will open for you.” You don’t get what you don’t ask for and White certainly asked to be noticed and play an active role in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. “I say find an organization for every interest you have and don’t let the fact that you don’t know anyone stop you.”