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Game Design and Development
Port Washington NY

Alexis Ohanion

Kevin Granger on Thursday, 06 March 2014. Posted in Speakers

In my last blog post, I covered John Resig’s visit to RIT. The institute continued its streak of tech-celebrities visiting campus that very same day, this time with a well-known name in the startup world: Alexis Ohanian, one of the original creators of this little site called Reddit. Alexis is on a tour promoting his book, "Without Their Permission." The book shared Alexis’ philosophy about how the web can be used for good, inspired by the lessons he learned, ideas he had, and challenges he faced while founding Reddit. Ever since RIT dominated Reddit’s “Grow A College Subreddit” competition, we’ve been itching to have some of the reddit admins visit. It was listed as a possibility for the winners, but that never happened for us. But, now that Alexis was coming, there was redemption! Woo! He focused on the original idea that he wanted to launch and put through YCombinator -- a service that would allow people to order food, and be texted when it was ready, because “lines suck.” It was, unfortunately, rejected! But things weren’t over! They would go through YCombinator with a different idea, a site called snoo. What’s snoo? Exactly. (Say it out loud.) Later, they changed the name to reddit, as in, “I read it on reddit.” The name snoo was reserved for the alien logo. During the talk, he also asked who was working on a cool side project. The first person to raise their hand was invited up to the stage, and got to talk about it. Here’s perhaps the most remarkable part. Remember those postcards we got at the start of the talk? At this point, Alexis asked us to fill out these postcards with a goal we wanted to accomplish. He said that once his tour was over, he was going to mail these back to us. Now that’s some accountability! Accountability from your past self! Finally, Alexis hit home with a poignant point -- we have zero lives left. This is the only life we’ll live, so we better do something great with it. We better start making things happen now. In essence, #YOLO. Alexis later invited John Resig up to the stage, where they had a bit of a pseudo-fireside chat, which I showed in the last blog post. There’s a lot more to the talk than I can cover in a single blog post, and I don’t want to spoil too much of the book. All in all, Alexis offered words of inspiration to the entrepreneurs in all of us.