Hi there, my name is Eileen. I’m a full time CEO at my company, Billion, and an avid eater of potato chips. My first GiveBackHack was the first one in Columbus, Ohio in the spring of 2015 and here’s my story.
When I first discovered GiveBackHack, it was my junior year of college. I think I had just learned what the word “entrepreneurship” was about 2 months prior and was still struggling with remembering how to spell it. (This hasn’t changed much.) But before I go too much into that, here’s a little back story.
Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to change the world. I know, lofty and slightly pretentious. I took this quite literally too. And when I say that, I mean when I was 10, I had a diary where I drew in 100 empty hearts, with the idea that each time I changed someone’s life, I’d fill in a heart. (I was a strange little kid.) However, that desire to make a change stayed with me like a bad habit. Fast forward years later, at 21, I still hadn’t figured out how to do that. When I learned about entrepreneurship, I started thinking of ways I could create value through business. Something that was picking up at the time was crowdfunding. I looked into the industry and saw the awesome power of community crowdsourcing and how it could be used as a force for good. However, if you looked at the market, there wasn’t a platform that funded huge initiatives to solve global issues. I thought if the technology exists for me to carry a tiny computer in my pocket, why was feeding a hungry child such a hard problem to solve? How could we find the capital to fund people who were solving problems like hunger on a global scale?
So I took that passion of creating huge impact and translated it into a tiny seed of an idea. That tiny seed was Billion – a competitive crowdfunding site to solve global issues.
Before I even knew what GiveBackHack was, I had already been telling my friends about my rough idea for Billion to absorb all the knowledge and feedback I could. Then weeks later, in an effort to find a way to make the idea into a reality, I searched online for “startup weekends and hackathons” and happened to come across GiveBackHack on Twitter and bought my ticket the same day.
Showing up at GiveBackHack (GBH) was probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. I didn’t know anyone and had never been to anything like it before. I only knew that I wanted to create something that mattered. Throughout the weekend, it was a blur of excited people, cups and cups of coffee, late nights, and early mornings. In the end, we had a prototype of a crowdfunding website and won first place and $4,000. The team we created at GBH was a group of extraordinary people who were able to make it possible. From there, I found my two existing co founders, Alex and Mark, that have built (and continue to build) out the entire platform and support the business in whatever way they can.
Recently, I just started working full time on Billion. I don’t know what tomorrow, or even the next hour holds, but I know I’m excited about it. GiveBackHack gave me confidence to do something I didn’t know I was capable of. Not only that, it connected me to some of my best friends. Finally, because of the support we received, we have been able to give back over $13,000 to non profits and social enterprise over the past year. My only suggestion is, if you’re thinking about coming, do it. It may be scary but it’s worth the risk because GBH is a place where an idea for social impact can become a reality . If you want to be a part of that, all you have to do is buy a ticket and join the next event near you.