Nearly 10 years ago, I was having lunch with Danielle at a restaurant in Mountain View. It was the first time I'd met her in person; I was a Thiel Fellowship applicant that year but only made it through a few selection rounds before I received a rejection email from her. Despite being rejected I reached out to her because, having decided to forego college myself, I was over the moon excited about what she was doing at the Thiel Fellowship. I was shocked that someone as busy as her would take the time to meet with me just to chat.
During our conversation she mentioned that she and Michael were thinking about bringing together a larger group of Thiel Fellowship applicants for a one day event so that we could all meet each other. My heart jumped with excitement. While immensely rewarding, choosing not to go to college had also proven to be a somewhat lonely road. I couldn't wait to get to meet hundreds of other people my age who were on the same path.
The very first Under 20 Summit was held at Mission High School in San Francisco on July 14, 2012. Dozens of us flew out early and organized dinners or coffee together (Danielle had put together a Facebook group so we could all meet ahead of time). The summit itself was a life-changing experience for me as I'm sure it was for many others. Over 150 of us from all over the world packed into the hallways and classrooms of the high school feverishly trying to meet as many of our peers as we could during the day. I'm still in touch with many of the people I met during that first summit, and many of them became close friends of mine! This video gives you a good glimpse of what that first summit was like (we all look so young!).
After the success of the first summit, the Fellowship team started hosting them bi-annually. Danielle brought me on to help grow the community that was building around the summits. The summits expanded from a one-day event to a multi-day biannual reunion for many of us. We would fly in early, book Airbnbs so we could stay with friends we'd made in the community, and stay up all night having some of the most stimulating conversations. With each summit new friendships were forged, new ideas and companies formed, and the community continued to grow.
Announcing 1517 Summit San Diego: Escape from Captivity
With the 10th anniversary of the very first Under 20 Summit coming up this July, we're excited to bring back the spirit of those original summits in the form of 1517 Summits with the first to be held July 16th and 17th this summer in San Diego! The theme will be Escape from Captivity. We are all about people breaking out of institutions and making their own unique path. So we will be highlighting and celebrating that for this event through our keynotes, breakout sessions, and activities.
We have a great lineup of speakers including Dylan Field (cofounder & CEO of Figma), Vinay Hiremath (cofounder & CTO of Loom), and Christine Kuglen (cofounder of Innovations Academy) plus a surprise fireside chat that you won't want to miss.
We're limiting attendance to 400 people for this summit. Are you a builder, maker, hacker, or renegade scientist who doesn't have an undergrad degree and is interested in receiving an invite? Email a 2 to 3 minute Loom video talking about yourself, what you're building, and why you're interested in attending to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope to see you in July!