Nithin Jilla, Co-founder of AppJam+
The WeThrive Alumni Series of our Student Entrepreneur Series was created to highlight entrepreneurs who are not only currently in the trenches, but have also proved successful when they started their companies during college. Through this medium, we aim to provide students with a range of additional tools, advice and guidance as they create and grow their own entrepreneurial ventures. Our Student Entrepreneur blogs highlight the most relevant details others can learn from. Know an entrepreneur we should highlight? Have an additional question we should be asking? Send it all to firstname.lastname@example.org
College: University of California, Irvine
College Venture: Tastebuds (Food App), Kenya Dream (UCI branch started of non-profit), AppJam+ , Wintria (Search Engine Startup)
Current Venture: AppJam+
Year in College Founded: Founded through a student group in 2012
Years out of College: 1.5
One word that best describes your experience as an entrepreneur in college: Persistent
Favorite class: Introduction to Software Engineering & Social Analysis of Computerization
Least-favorite class: History of Western Art
Why bother with entrepreneurship?
For me, it’s as a way to look at the world through a different lens and rethink challenges in your own way with understanding of the current ways. It’s an adventure that’s exhilarating and really helps you develop a more positive outlook on the challenges we face.
Tell us about your college venture, and where you are on it?
AppJam+ is the venture that I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with and work with a group of great people every year – from our core team which keeps growing to community leaders, university partners, college mentors and the students in middle school. AppJam+ is a program in which the concept of building software in a short period of time is used as a tool to excite and inform middle school students about careers in STEM fields while teaching them the creative and hands on technical process of mobile application development. Middle school students receive mentorship from college undergraduates and learn to make mobile apps over 8-10 weeks, which will be utilized by early learners. AppJam+ is now entering into its 4th year of programming this Fall.
What are you working on now and why?
I’m continuing to build AppJam+ out and help create this pipeline between universities and middle school/afterschool programs in Orange County. It is so important now more than ever, for younger youth to have mentors & this pipeline allows for a more personalized learning mechanism as well. I anticipate that we’ll be seeing some of the greatest changes in education reform in the upcoming years and being able to work on things of that nature excite me & help me learn.
Where was your favorite place to do work on campus?
UCI’s Aldrich Park
What’s one way students can start today?
Perhaps just some things to keep in mind: get to know people around you and don’t be afraid to get involved & seize opportunities.
What’s your best tip for entrepreneurs still in college?
Be open and get to learn and know the people you meet. It’s incredible how some of the best conversations will happen and the best friendships will form. As someone I work with shared with me recently, “when you show people kindness, sometimes they’ll run a marathon for you” and vice versa.
When did you found your company and with how many others?
It was founded as a project with a group of great people and as it went on, I took a leadership role early on.
How do you manage your week?
At a week level, I plan out my week Sundays so I’m aware of what I have going on. I try to get a couple of 6 mile runs in every week to stay active amd it’s always nice to run out on hiking trails and take in some views in sunny SoCal. On a daily basis, I maintain some check lists and make sure I’m meeting my deadlines & holding myself accountable. I end my nights with some reading and schedule in time every week on weekends to spend time with friends and reflect.
What’s the most important lesson you learned as an entrepreneur out of college so far?
Move forward with people. People are going to play a key role in your life. Behind every idea is usually this idea of who – the person or persons who are the leaders and executors. Building relationships with people and working with people is more fulfilling and you can have a greater impact.
What advice would you offer student entrepreneurs soon to graduate college?
Perhaps just something to keep in mind: just remember that with anything, it’s a journey that takes a lot of time, persistent work, and tough times in uncomfortable situations to realize what you really want to do. So get involved and seize some opportunities – even if it’s out of your comfort zone. In the end, you’ll come out of battles and have something to show for it.
What resources do you recommend others take advantage of?
For Social Entrepreneurs – I curate a collection on Declara here: https://declara.com/collection/c60d243a-26de-4fba-b230-ca497f5af3bc/post so you can learn more
Get involved with Clinton Global Initiative University – make a commitment & meet other individuals who are like minded www.cgiu.org
I use this amazing App, News360 to stay up to date about topics in all areas I’m interested in. You can curate your own profile this way too – from social news to tech to mindfulness and the like.
Align yourself with organizations you believe in or can see yourself at and try to build some relationships to learn more.
What’s your sleep routine like?
I sleep about 6-7 hours a night and start early in the morning. Sleep is good for your mind, body & spirit.
Fill in the blank: I’d love to see Richard Branson answer these same questions. But realistically, hear from some friends who are fellow changemakers & leaders in their own way too!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“How you do the little things is how you do the big things. How you do anything is how you do everything”
Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers and fans?
I recently started watching and subscribed to SmarterEveryDay which is a cool youtube channel to learn new things in short segments: https://www.youtube.com/user/destinws2