What’s the difference between an entrepreneur and an opportunist? Angelica Sirotin has it figured out. Sirotin is a student at the University of Minnesota and entrepreneur who has started up a number of businesses in the past two years since graduating high school. We talk about what motivates her to make her own path, where the passion for this comes from, and what her latest ventures are in this week’s Who The Folk?! Podcast.
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You’re a full-time student at the U; what do you study?
I’m studying applied economics right now. So think about taking macro and micro (economics) and applying it to real-world context. It’s not just about reading theories, but I can actually see how it’s applicable to the real world.
One of the other really interesting things about you is that you are an entrepreneur which at 19 or 20 years old, you don’t often find people taking on their own businesses. Where do the ideas flow from?
Whenever anyone asks me I never say first that I’m an entrepreneur; I say that I’m an opportunist. It’s because of the way I was raised. It’s my mentality; I’m a first generation American of Russian-Jewish descent and my parents came here with nothing in the instilled with me a motivation to explore things. There are so many opportunities and possibilities around.
What’s the first reaction when you tell people you’re an opportunist? Are they taken aback?
Not usually because a lot of people know my shtick, but if it’s just a random person who hears I’m an opportunist, I like to explain in a way that I’m not afraid to try things because I have nothing to lose, except for maybe I’ll make mistakes along the way. But that’s how we learn.
What are some of the startups you’ve gotten going?
One of the things that I am just inherently intrinsically good a is writing. I have no idea where it came from, I just I love to do it. In the Upper Midwest, we have a lot of great people Minnesota with really cool ideas but they don’t necessarily know how to articulate their visions and ideas. So I decided why not make a pitch consultancy were I actually help them create pitches, whether it’s for investors or web copy. In the Upper Midwest, we don’t have a saturated market; like if I was in San Francisco right now in Silicon Valley there are a ton of people doing pitch consulting so I would just be another little 19-year-old girl who would have no voice in the market. But since there are so few people like me who provide such services in the Upper Midwest, that’s why I decided to launch a pitch consultancy and it’s for anyone with like a product or service.
That’s a really interesting niche that you’ve found and created for yourself. Why is it that market hasn’t started taking off here?
One of the reasons why is because Minnesota is not the kind market as Silicon Valley or San Francisco traditionally. I think the Twin Cities actually was crowned recently the startup capital of the north which is pretty cool, so we are gaining some sort of traction. But the reason that I have been able to be successful in my in my endeavors with writing and you know doing this kind of stuff is because there isn’t such a mass of people here.
You’re a full-time student and a 20-year-old who likes to do things that aren’t work too I would imagine, so where do you where do you find the time to sort of compartmentalize all the ideas you have and handle all your other business?
I am an organizational freak. I don’t have an agenda; I have an efficiency schedule and I know people laugh at me for that but the thing is the key to accomplishing things. I don’t do everything at once. Maybe an hour or two one day working my magazine, and another day I’m having a conference call. With relation to school: yes I am a full-time student taking 17 credits or something. First of all, I love being busy. I hate being bored and doing nothing so that’s also just a personality trait. To be an entrepreneur it takes a lot of tenacity you need to want to do something and if that thing you’re doing is something you don’t want to do, don’t even look at. That being said there is some downside because, you know, mid-terms come up like right now.
What’s the next big idea that you have?
I’ve always been passionate about education and the integration of technology with education. Right now, I’m actually co-founding an education technology venture and it’s called CodePop. What we’re focused on is we want to teach kids 8-to-18 how to code, but our curriculum is completely personalized meaning that is completely built around the student’s interest. The fact of the matter is the future of the world is going into code, and everything is going to be defined by code.Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!