Author Archive for Zeke Hoole

Never, Never, Never Give Up

In 2011 three former Stanford University students; Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Murphy saw that one of the downsides of social media was that it made people less prompt in their responses like people usually would in face to face interactions. Their answer to this problem was to create what has now become one of the most dominant social media apps on the market: Snapchat.

Snapchat is an app which allows users to share short lived and self deleting pictures back and forth, prompting swift responses and increased communication. When Spiegel first pitched the idea in class, fellow students called it improbably to succeed, but being a true entrepreneur at heart, he did not give up and since its release in 2011 it has grown in popularity at a staggering rate.

A great example of how not giving up on your idea really can pay off.


Before 2008, if you heard a song on the radio or at a public place and wanted to know what it was; unless someone around you knew what the song was, chances are that you’d never find out. Chris Barton, Philip Inghlebrecht, Dhiraj Mukherjee and Avery Wang were four extraordinarily gifted young men who saw the need for a solution to the problem and developed Shazam, an app that even at its birth had a 95% success rate of identifying what the song that was playing was.

The app is beautiful in its simplicity. Shazam uses the microphone to gather a brief audio snippet, creates an acoustic fingerprint and then compares this to a database to get a match and see what song it is. The best part is how instantaneous it is, as Barton once stated that “we aimed to make our app tell you what song was playing faster than your friend next to you could, and we did..” The app’s popularity (1 billion users as of October 2016) tells you just how big the market for such an entrepreneurial idea was; and even though there are knock off apps that try to replicate the real deal – none of them have the success, skill or success rate that Shazam prides itself in.

Now that they have established a name for themselves, the company is integrating their technology into other popular apps (like Snapchat) and reach even more people. I think what makes this such a great entrepreneurial idea to me is in that it services a very good need, for free and shows how when you find a need that still needs to be met and your product is expertly designed and crafted; success will follow.

A Sonic Entrepreneur


Very few people in the public eye have been as hated as musician Kanye West. From his spontaneous outbursts to his infamous “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” rant on live television, the man has brought about so much hate and outrage directed his way. Whether or not that hatred is deserved is topic for another discussion, however his talent as a musician cannot be denied. Writing about an artist seems an odd choice for this assignment, but I believe that West’s approach to constantly innovating and pushing the boundaries of his genre and the style of his music, makes him an entrepreneur of a rare kind.

In particular, the album 808’s and Heartbreak showcased a sonic innovator who took the risk of trying something new; and resulted in it defining the sound of a generation. 808’s was released in a time when hip-hop as a genre was defined by brash, aggressive music and lyrics that primarily described a “gangster” lifestyle (women, drugs, alcohol…etc.). Following the death of his mother earlier that year, West decided not to be limited by the restraints placed on him by his genre and decided instead to release an album that deviated from the norm of the time; putting heavy emphasis on more somber, melodic instrumentals; lyrics on heartbreak and the loss of a mother’s love and being more vulnerable and personal than anyone in the genre had been before.

His revolutionary approach and the meticulous effort that he poured into crafting the album would define the music of the 2010’s. Some of today’s biggest artists: Drake, Lupe Fiasco, Kid Cudi, Alicia Keys and Chris Brown (to name a few) have credited their success and rise to prominence to the music and the style of 808’s; and his bold approach to thinking creatively outside the box has given artists the freedom to not limit themselves but to think and make more experimental music.

How Alexis Ohanian made the world suck less

When he was still in college, Alexis Ohanian told one of his professors that he wanted to the world to suck less. At first he and his friend Steve Huffman planned to make the world “suck less” by inventing a mobile sub-sandwich ordering app, but after some thought decided to create “the front page of the internet. That front page they created is Reddit. What Ohanian did was make an online community of people who could interact and voice their opinions on an infinite number of things. To make things easier (and less cluttered), reddit was divided into multiple “sub-reddits,” like ‘Politics,’ ‘Music,’ ‘Gaming,’ ‘Technology.’ and the list goes on and on. His aim was to offer a home for people to talk about anything, not matter how weird or niche it was. And users also have the opportunity to create their own sub-reddits (thereby, their own communities), and discuss whatever they want to with other users.
In addition to being the central hub of almost anything on the internet, Reddit is also where a lot of ideas initially started off as small communities before growing to what they are now. For example, reddit was the first place where people interested in Cryptocurrencies talked and connected before it became what today is known as Bitcoin. In fact the subreddit for entrepreneurs (linked here) is one of the fastest growing communities that is home to an astounding number of incredible ideas, and entrepreneurs use it to gain feedback and comments from fellow community members.

I think that the invention of Reddit is an incredible feat in the field of entrepreneurship, because it not only gave people a platform to be informed and be entertained, but also a means by which they may interact with others, voice opinions, find new ways to get their ideas and voice out and be more productive members of the community!

Jerry Lorenzo – Street Wear’s Visionary Entrepreneur


In 2016, very few of those interested in the world of fashion have not heard of Jerry Lorenzo. Lorenzo saw that in the extremely fast growing industry of “streetwear,” the emergence of new trends and styles had meant that people had completely forgotten about the essential styles that one might’ve seen in the beginning stages of the fashion industry. He saw that if people wanted certain vintage pieces, they had to make them by themselves or had to get someone else to make it for them. Even though he saw the enormous potential in this, he realized that people would almost certainly not want to wear clothes that look like they were 40-50 years old.

However, being a creative visionary; Lorenzo crafted newer, trendier pieces that were inspired by the fashion of decades past and with the advice and feedback from streetwear enthusiasts (whom he apparently went and talked to on the streets and asked for feedback during the beginning stages of his company),  Lorenzo founded Fear of God (or FOG, as it is referred to by the trendy public). His FOG collections showcased pieces like elongated flannels (combining the modern trend of elongated wear with the flannel craze brought about by the rockers of the 50’s), shredded jeans (from the skateboard culture of the 80’s) and short-sleeved hoodies (something he created because he saw that people living in LA who wanted to wear hoodies but couldn’t because of the heat could actually wear without boiling to death). And to manufacture them, he would buy cheap thrift store flannels, jeans and jackets and use them as the base material upon which he would then cut, taper and sew to make his own unique brand of clothing. He also realized the potential in using social media to get his brand out for the public to see, and released expertly crafted commercials and used social media sited like Instagram to creatively and artistically showcase his pieces.

The result?

Lorenzo’s unique approach to fashion paved the way for him to become the most talked about person in fashion this year. His clothing lines sell out in minutes, and he has created such a high demand for his style that he can even sell a short sleeved t shirt for $200 that also sells out almost instantly and then resells on sites like eBay for $1000. Since the launch of his first line, he has been able to move away from thrift store based fashion to manufacturing his own clothing, and with every collection his brand only seems to get more and more popular and almost every fashion enthusiast celebrity has been seen wearing and endorsing pieces from the FOG line.

I think that the fact that a) Lorenzo saw a market waiting to be filled, b) proceeded to fill it with his own take on it and then, c) used social media to generate so much demand and hype for his product makes him an entrepreneur in his own right.

Fun Fact: Lorenzo is extremely vocal about his Christian faith, and in fact named his line Fear of God because of a reading he found in an Oswald Chambers devotional. I find this impressive too because very few people in fashion, or celebrities even are as vocal about their faith as Lorenzo has been and continues to be.

Casey Neistat: A Visual Media Entrepreneur

“Vlogging” is quickly becoming an extremely popular genre of visual entertainment. A ‘vlog’ is a blog post which is in video form. Vlogs started become more popular after the creation of YouTube in 2005, as that provided a platform for people to upload their vlogs for others to see and comment on. And while the internet is filled with thousands and thousands of vlogs; one very creative and smart man saw it as an entrepreneurial opportunity to reach and impact many and has risen to mainstream prominence over the past year.

Casey Neistat had showed interest in expressing his thoughts and ideas through video form from an early age. In 2003, he created a video called “iPod’s Dirty Secret” where he criticized Apple’s lack of a battery replacement program for the iPod and gave reasons as to why they should. In very “David v. Goliath” style, his video actually made Apple come out with a battery replacement policy and the public and the press praised what he had done. Neistat was smart enough to see YouTube as a platform by which he could reach, impact and share ideas with millions of people across the world. And since 2015 has been releasing daily vlogs. What has set him apart from the countless others who have attempted to do so, is the amount of effort, creativity and genius his videos show. Releasing an almost 9-minute vlog every day means he has to plan out his theme for the day, plan out the shots (camera/GoPro/Drone), edit through hours and hours of footage and then upload it onto YouTube within 24 hours of the previous one. The impressive thing is that every vlog is even more impressive than the last, featuring breathtaking shots (especially through Drone footage) of his city (NYC) and he manages to give messages of hope and encouragement to his viewers both young and old, which is a great way to be using the internet for.

I think of him as a great example of a young entrepreneur as he saw a new medium to take advantage of to be uniquely brilliant on, and made full use of it. In additional to a major following, he also found a way to monetize his videos, landing lucrative deals with major companies and was also named GQ’s “Man of the Year” in 2016.


You can visit his channel and see his videos, here.