“There’s something special about this kid.”
Levy says he plans to go back to school in his home state at University of Texas. He’s not sure when that will be, but getting his degree is important to him. He wants to study business, but plans on creating his own major.
“They’ll let me back in, hopefully,” he says. “I just need to write a letter.”
Levy is good at writing letters. He is also persistent, to say the least. This is how he came to know some of the biggest players in venture capital. At 14 he wanted to be an entrepreneur before he knew what the word meant. He started cold messaging everyone on social platforms. By everyone, he means everyone from professors to VCs to CEOs. These cold messages would be the conversations that carried him to where he is today.
“I would ask, ‘Can I hang out in your office?’ and they would say, ‘send your resume,’ “ says Levy. “I didn’t have a resume. I was 14.”
Union Square Ventures and TechStars were interested, and a UC Berkeley professor Levy had cold messaged helped him write a resume. For four weeks during the summer of 2008, Levy “hung out” with the VCs. He sat next to them as they took calls and sorted through pitch decks. He stayed with their families, played tennis with them and commuted with them.
“Some people thought I was a partner,” Levy says with a grin.
In 2009 he spent the summer with the Founders Fund and started his own companies, including an educational startup, a t-shirt printing company and a sports memorabilia company. He was introduced and became friends with some of the most famous CEOs and founders in Silicon Valley. At 17, some members of the Founders Fund encouraged Levy to create a platform that would make his experience available to other young entrepreneurs.
“They told me that if I don’t use these connections, I was going to lose them,” explains Levy. He created the Nextgen Conference in November 2009. It was held at Stanford, where the University thought Levy was attending. He wasn’t, but he didn’t bother clarifying. That first show was quite a learning experience for a 17 year old.
Today the events run smoothly and successfully. The most recent was Nextgen Hollywood, during which Silicon Valley and Los Angeles met to rub shoulders. Levy lights up when he mentions that Ashton Kutcher attended the conference. Levy is very social and likes to network.
“When I was 14, I wanted to find the next step after Facebook,” says Levy, a comment which snaps me back into thinking I’m sitting across from Zuckerberg Jr. Others who know Levy hesitate to make that connection. They say he’s different. Perhaps better.
“One of the benefits of being an 80-year old is your predictive powers are honed,” says Paul Magelli, Levy’s U of I professor. “He will be a success but in a multi dimensional way. He is savvy but he is sweet. He is subtle. He seduces you in a very positive way. There’s something special about this kid.”
“He’s an exceptional person in a community of exceptional people,” says Dearing. “He stands out. I’ve only met one of him in the world.”
Get ready, world.
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