#HCAwarenessWeek: Alexis Ohanian's Tips To Becoming A Successful Internet Entrepreneur

Alexis Ohanian is most well-known for co-founding Reddit which is now the sixth largest website in the world. He is also the co-founder of Initialized Capital and helped in launching hipmunk, a traveling website. Just before turning 30, Ohanian was on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for two years in a row. In 2013, Ohanian’s book, Without Their Permission, was published and eventually became a national bestseller. Ohanian’s book highlights essential tips for those who are aspiring internet entrepreneurs.


All startups MUST solve a problem.

Ohanian explains that all startups must solve a problem, even if it is not a well-known problem. He suggests that when trying to narrow things down to one issue, it is beneficial to speak to potential customers. When brainstorming on your own, it is easy to develop tunnel vision, so speaking to potential customers gives you valuable insight. Having a knowledge of what exactly the consumer is in search of allows you to develop a product that tends to their needs. In turn, revenue is increased simply because of increased traffic to your website or product. Ohanian also says that when searching for a problem to solve, choose an issue that is worthwhile to you. Being passionate about what you are working toward will allow your product to reach its full potential naturally.

Be cautious about what you share on the internet.

With the type of technology we have today, the potential for information to spread with one share is imminent. Knowing that it is crucial that information shared on the internet is highly reviewed. Although this is something that sounds like common sense, the simplest of things can be misinterpreted or misconstrued. Even the best have made this mistake, but Ohanian is speaking directly from experience. During a whale hunting awareness campaign in Japan, Greenpeace held a poll on Reddit to name the whale that they were tracking. Among several meaningful name choices, the name “Mr. Splashy Pants,” was on the list. The name ended up getting so much media coverage that the Japanese government ended up shutting down the hunt. As this was unfortunate, everyone was still able to learn from experience.

Keep the internet uncensored.

Ohanian explains that our right to the first amendment is something we are still entitled to, even on the Internet. Not only does he explain this in his book, but he has also done so through his actions. When Congress attempted to pass the Stop Online Piracy Act in 2011, Ohanian lobbied against it because it would have given the United States Government the ability to shut down any website at any time. One form of lobbying he participated in was called Internet Blackout Day where sites such as Reddit and Wikipedia shut down entirely for the day to show the impact it would have. Internet freedom is something Ohanian values and suggests that aspiring Internet entrepreneurs do the same.

Without Their Permission shares the typical financial information that should be known when developing an internet startup, but his tips regarding censorship and focusing on a particular issue are the suggestions that matter most.