While many kids his age are trying to get behind the velvet gates of the hottest nightclubs, Luke Sophinos would rather find his way behind the doors of a venture capitalist’s office. Sophinos became CEO of CourseKey, a college classroom app that does everything from track attendance to allow students to ask questions, before he turned 20 and the 21-year-old now heads to ship of a company backed by more than $1 million of investment funds. As the first speaker of the Entrepreneurial Journey Series put on by Cal Poly Pomona’s Student Innovation Idea Lab, Sophinos and CourseKey were brought on campus to leave an impression on the audience filled with similarly aged students interested in leading companies.
“CourseKey started out as a few students with an idea in a lab built on similar philosophies as ours,” Student Innovation Idea Lab director Olukemi Sawyerr said. “Knowing one of the youngest people in the room was the most successful provides a new and hopefully inspiring perspective to our group of aspiring entrepreneurs.”
Before Sophinos took the microphone, CourseKey’s vice president of sales and marketing Ryan Vanshur spoke about how he became involved with the company and what it’s like having a boss almost 10 years younger than he is. Vanshur stressed that he became an entrepreneur without having your own business concept and although his upbringing that included a battle with cancer was rough, enduring difficulties personally and professionally are part of success.
“I thought about becoming an entrepreneur, but I didn’t have an idea,” marketing major Jeancarlos Granda said. “It was very inspirational. It got me thinking about what I want to do.”