Lauren Amarante Interview: Co-Founder of World Entrepreneurship Day

Lauren Amarante Interview: Co-Founder of World Entrepreneurship Day

by Nick Scheidies and Nick Tart on June 14, 2010 · 15 comments

Lauren Amarante is a born leader. When she was nine years old, she used to get all of her friends to join together after school and sell things like sandwiches, Oreos, and lemonade.

From elementary school to high school, Lauren was a perennial class president and team captain. Then, when her high school basketball coach was diagnosed with breast cancer, Lauren helped plan and organize an event to raise money for a cure, which has become a yearly fundraising event.

Later on, as a sophomore at Arizona State University, Lauren co-founded World Entrepreneurship Day (WED). WED’s first celebration of entrepreneurship, in 2009, was a huge success: 22 countries around the world participated. Since then, WED has partnered with the United Nations to scale its successful model around the world. The 2010 WED was kicked off at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City and celebrated in over 35 other countries around the world. Speakers included Marc Ecko (founder of Marc Ecko Enterprises), Beth Comstock (CMO, GE), and Maria Bartiromo (CNBC’s ‘Closing Bell’).

Lauren is going to be a senior this fall at ASU. She plans to continue growing World Entrepreneurship Day and inspiring people around the world to action.

The following is a short excerpt from 50 Interviews: Young Entrepreneurs (Volume 1).

Q: How did you plan and organize WED?

Lauren Amarante WED Whiteboard

An example of Lauren's whiteboarding...

A: We did not use a business plan. We basically turned to the whiteboard and started picturing what it could be. Typically at a university, the janitors will be cleaning all of the classrooms from 9:00 pm on. So, I would go to [an ASU building] and literally take over an entire classroom to plan. Each room has 10 or 12 whiteboards. Today, I have hundreds of photo images that I’ve taken of my whiteboards, writings, and plans.

There has been a lot of experimenting as well. We’ve been trying different ways to grow WED through social media for two years. Eventually, we found a way that actually kicked off and inspired more events. One of our country champions (who are kind of like the leaders of the different countries that run the events) got 500 fans on Facebook in a few days.

Q: Do you ever wish you were a normal college student?

A: Not at all. Normal is boring. I’m at ASU – the most known party school in the country – temptations are an inevitable piece of the pie. But for me, that’s just one sacrifice that I’ve made for something that is much more worth it. I would honestly more enjoy spending a Friday night working on WED than doing anything else in the world. This being said, it goes back to your previous question: it’s all about balance. You need to find that “fun time,” or you’ll just go nuts!

Plus, the more you contribute now, the better quality of life you’ll be able to achieve in the future. There is a great quote: “Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” Some of the entrepreneurs [in this book] are 20-year-olds who have started 20 million dollar companies (Editor’s Note: ;) ). To me, capital is freedom. Who on Earth would want to be normal when you could have that type of freedom?

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

A: Definitely start something now. Whether it’s small or it’s big, whether it’s a company or a student club, whether it’s a failure or success, start something. It’s all about failing hard and failing fast. Obviously your goal is not to fail, but it’s better to fail now and reap all the inherent lessons, than to sit back and do nothing. Even if you eventually go on to work for someone else, future employers will appreciate your early entrepreneurial endeavors because they tangibly demonstrate execution, initiative, and leadership.

This is an abridged version from Lauren’s interview in our latest project, 50 Interviews: Young Entrepreneurs. It’s cool that I knew about WED way before I had ever spoken with Lauren. It’s hard to imagine coordinating 35 countries by night and taking 15 (or so) college credits by day. To think, WED didn’t exist three years ago and it’s grown to 35 different countries. This tells me two things. (1) Lauren is good at what she does and (2) we’re all on to something with our pursuit of entrepreneurship. The world is changing.

Lauren Amarante’s Top Quotes

“You could have a million ideas, but they’re all worthless if you don’t get them done.”

“If you’re not in an uncomfortable situation every single day, then you’re doing something wrong.”

Want even more inspiration?

Farrhad Acidwalla Interview: Rockstah Entrepreneur Out of IndiaFind out how a 16-year-old college student from Mumbai manages a worldwide team:
Farrhad Acidwalla Interview: Rockstah Entrepreneur Out of India at 12 >>

{ 4 comments }

1 Nick Scheidies June 14, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Tart, it’s cruel of you to tantalize you readers with the smiley face without telling who the mystery entrepreneur is.

I suppose they’ll know soon enough.

In the mean time, I love Lauren’s attitude (“it’s all about failing hard and failing fast”), her passion for leadership, and the way that she has created an incredible global event out of thin air in just a matter of years. The world is changing — and Lauren’s on the front lines.

2 Nick Tart June 16, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Yeah, WED really is out of thin air! And to think, she was just a normal/oddly ambitious college student before all of this. It’s incredible how fast everything has come together.

3 Daniel Meade June 17, 2010 at 4:29 am

I would have to agree with Lauren’s point of view about putting in the work now, giving up the partying and the typical student life is really only a minor sacrifice in comparison. I too would much rather spend my friday nights sat at my desk working hard on my projects, I enjoy it, as does any entrepreneur that really believes in their work.

4 Nick Tart June 18, 2010 at 11:46 am

Hey Daniel! Nicely said. It’s a little crazy to think that young entrepreneurs, including myself, would rather work on our businesses than go party with our friends. I think Keith Davis said it best, “A lot of young folks get caught up in the hype of entertainment and the night life. I always tell people that the night life isn’t going anywhere.” No charge ;).

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