Four young guys and a dog dream big when they work together.
At least the SwoopThat team does.
San Diegans Jonny Simkin, Ben Carson, Kevin King, Dan Halloran and their dog Zorro founded SwoopThat, an online company that helps students find textbooks at affordable prices within minutes.
The company, led by 23-year-old Simkin and founded in 2010, helps students save up to 75 percent on textbooks.
"We created a new solution to help students save money and time while buying textbooks because this was a huge problem for us while we were in college," said the Harvey Mudd College graduate. "When we researched the problem more thoroughly, we found that the high cost of textbooks is a huge national issue in higher education affordability, and that textbooks can represent up to 75 percent of the cost of tuition at some schools. To solve this problem, we decided to create a completely new way to buy books."
Halloran, 23, who is also a Harvey Mudd College graduate, said he's happy with how their work has paid off.
"I can see the fruits of my labor as soon as a completed segment of code runs or a finished page loads—and that can be extremely rewarding after hours or days of work," he said.
But the these young leaders have other goals too. King, 22, hopes to attend graduate school for his Ph.D. in algorithms while 26-year-old Carson just completed law school at the University of San Diego.
Inspired by a number of people in their lives including family members and noteworthy people like Stephen Fry, the SwoopThat team is developing a software suite for bookstores to help them grow too.
Advice for young people:
Simkin: "You better have a strong work ethic and be motivated to push through hard times. A good leader needs to guide the company and keep it together. You’ll face hard times, and the way you handle those times will define the future of your company. If you can’t stay calm, passionate and focused, you’re not ready to become a leader. If you are willing to take risk and devote time to something you love, then go for it. Always explore your passions. The worst that will happen is that you’ll learn a ton!"
King: "Ask for help! There are a lot of people who are willing to spend some of their time critiquing and giving advice about your ideas. Just keep an open mind. We owe a lot of our success to the advice we have received from a lot of leaders in San Diego."
Halloran: "Don't be afraid to try new things just to see what piques your interest. If you need help, don't hesitate to ask in a forthright and open way—most people will be willing to provide some excellent guidance provided that they can see that you're putting in some effort to try things yourself. If you have a persistent problem in your life that you think you've found a solution to, there's a good chance that someone else has that problem as well. Share what you've learned whenever you can find someone who wants to listen."
Carson: "Never give up. Never give in. It doesn't matter what your goals and aspirations are, if you follow these two pieces of advice, you will succeed. Life can be frustrating and painful at times, but as long as you keep on trying and keep on moving toward your goals, they will come to fruition. Never give up, and some day you'll succeed."