This week in our #MeetCohort12 series, we talk to Cole who is a budding entrepreneur. Although he attended an entrepreneurship-focused college, he felt that he did not have enough time to focus on his start-up. As a result, he decided to take time off to not only grow his company but also for self-reflection. Cole will begin his gap year in October with the largest UnCollege cohort to date.
UnCollege: What were you like growing up? What was your town like?
Cole: My mum says that I was extremely curious and never stopped asking questions. I was playful and creative, often spending hours on end dwelling in my own imagination. However, when it was time to get serious, I was a very hard worker with an extraordinary amount of discipline, focus, ambition, and perseverance.
I grew up in a little town called Kaneohe, right outside of Honolulu, Hawaii. Kaneohe was small enough that the supermarket cashiers know your name, but not so small that everyone knows every detail about everyone’s lives.
What’s your stance on school or what are your favorite and least favorite parts about school?
I have strong views on the current education system. Although I believe school is right for some people, I feel it was not a good fit for me. Personally, I don’t think college guarantees that you will be successful, and there are so many additional, non-traditional ways to learn besides just attending a four-year institution.
My favorite part of school is getting to interact with others and learn from their experiences. My least favorite part of school is learning things that I don’t see myself applying to real life. Also, I dislike learning new content that I know I could learn more efficiently or have more impact if it were personalized to suit my individual learning style.
What do you like to do during your free time?
I enjoy exercising daily, usually jogging or playing soccer. Additionally, I like to watch TED talks or other relevant business/entrepreneurship videos. I spend a large portion of my time working on my startup as well. If there is any extra time leftover, I really love watching movies, either in the theatres or at home. I devote a bunch of time to just hanging out with friends too.
Tell us more about your startup
My startup is called Ambry, and it is basically an Airbnb for your wardrobe. We are trying to eliminate the need to pack clothing while traveling. Local suppliers have the opportunity to make a little bit of extra income, while guests get to enjoy the fashion of the destination they are currently visiting. I started it about seven months ago, and the journey so far has been slow but exciting. While I was in college, I didn't have as much time as I would have liked to work on it. However, I would always look forward to the little I could hack away at every day. Bringing on new team members has also been extremely rewarding.
Has school played a role in helping you nurture your entrepreneurship skills?
Babson College is a very entrepreneurship-focused school. Thus, I feel that the endless resources on campus and in the Boston ecosystem have played a role in developing my skills. However, I do think there is always room for improvement. I would like to see more successful entrepreneurs come in, present a case they actually dealt with in their business, allow us to break into teams to attempt to solve the problem at hand, judge what we came up with, and then explain how they handled the issue in real life and if this solution was effective/impactful.
What led you to take a gap year?
There are multiple reasons for my decision to take a gap year. First, I experienced severe burnout during the end of high school and throughout my first year at college. Thus, I want to take a substantial amount of time for self-reflection. I am not sure exactly what I want to pursue in terms of my career, and it’s hard to work toward a goal when you’re unsure what the goal is.
Next, I wanted to challenge myself. I realize that this upcoming adventure is my best shot at pushing myself out of comfort zone and trying new things.
Lastly, I want to pursue a self-directed education, and I have finally found an opportunity to create my own curriculum.
How did your parents respond?
My mum was at first apprehensive, as she worked tirelessly as a single mum to raise me and get me to college. However, she is slowly becoming more enthusiastic. My dad is fully supportive, as he himself did not attend college and is an entrepreneur.
What are you most excited about going into UnCollege? (phase, element, etc?)
I am most excited about traveling to India and can’t wait to live out the culture firsthand. Besides my home in Hawaii and college, I have never lived in another location for an extended period of time. I am also looking forward to doing youth development service work, as I am passionate about this area.
What are your goals for the gap year?
My foremost goal is to become more grateful. I want to learn how to be thankful throughout the journey, instead of being miserable until I reach the destination.
I hope to gain a new sense of clarity from my self-reflection time and have a better vision of where I want to head next in my life. The more I learn about myself, the more I can help others.
What’s your biggest fear going into the program?
Although living in India ranks high among my fears, I would say my biggest fear is actually not making any progress throughout my Gap Year. I would be disappointed to end up in the same place I started, just as unsure of myself as before. Perhaps I am putting an excessive amount of pressure on myself, and it is for this very reason that I hope I learn to enjoy the journey with a heart of gratitude. I am confident that I made the right choice and will learn much about myself and others, even if it’s not exactly in the way I predicted.
What's on your bucket list and what are you least excited about for your Voyage phase in India?
My bucket list includes making a positive impact on at least one child I am serving, learning how to be grateful with what I have, and visiting the Taj Mahal.
To be completely honest, I am least excited about the food. I have never really taken a huge liking to Indian cuisine, mostly because I cannot handle spicy tastes. However, I am really open-minded, and I am sure I will find a variety of dishes I can enjoy.
What is your favorite quote?
“You should do what you said you were going to do that one time before you got all tired and then got super busy and pretty much forgot . . . you really should.” - Unknown
What’s your six-word story?
Work hard. Enjoy life. Give back.
Complete this sentence: In 5 years, you will find me ...
In 5 years you will find me content that I am doing something that makes me happy.