San Jose Students Start Nonprofit to Democratize Technology Innovation
Updated: Jul 2, 2019
Nikhil Sharma and Arnav Joshi, realizing the difficulty that other students had in running hackathons, decided to start an organization to provide much-needed assistance.
For Immediate Release
Press Contact: Nikhil Sharma
Date: July 1, 2019
Local Teens Bring Tech Ideas to Life
“Young people often have some of the most cutting-edge ideas, but are not able to implement them because of lack of resources. We wanted to solve this problem by building an organization to democratize innovation in tech and allow everyone to pursue their ideas, regardless of age” - Nikhil Sharma, Chairman at 18Tech Ventures
• Nikhil Sharma and Arnav Joshi realized the lack of support for high school hackathons and the number of events that were struggling while organizing HarkerHacks in their sophomore year of high school.
• They started 18Tech Ventures at the end of their sophomore year to give legal, marketing, and fundraising support to hackathons across the country. By the end of the year, they supported over 40 events, impacting over 10,000 students.
• Mr. Sharma and Mr. Joshi expanded 18Tech Ventures to file patents for technologies created at hackathons and to connect students to industry professionals to break down the barriers to forming a startup. They aim to continue to expand the opportunity of entrepreneurship to all students.
Hackathons, invention fairs where students have the opportunity to work with each other to develop technology-related products, have seen exponential growth over the past two years. Despite the increased number of events, many organizers still struggle to run hackathons effectively and garner enough money from sponsors to obtain funds to run the event. Nikhil Sharma and Arnav Joshi were both high school sophomores when they ran the first annual HarkerHacks hackathon at The Harker School. While they were able to successfully run their event and gain the requisite support to help the event thrive, they realized that many other events in less connected areas than the Silicon Valley struggled to gain access to the same resources that made HarkerHacks possible.
“Living in Denver for 14 years, I knew that most regions around the world lacked the resources available to the top hackathons and students here in the Bay Area.” - Arnav Joshi, President at 18Tech Ventures
Realizing the significance of this issue, Nikhil and Arnav co-founded the nonprofit 18Tech Ventures at the end of their sophomore year, whose mission is to help both high school and college students across the nation create and launch the next great technology ideas. Initially they worked to accomplish this goal by providing financial, legal, marketing, and organizational support to hackathons across the country. Through this program, they helped connect events in areas such as Colorado, Nevada, and New Jersey to key decision makers within companies and technology organizations that could help make running a hackathon an easier experience for everyone.
In their first year, they helped run over 40 hackathons nationwide, impacting over 10,000 students. After a year of helping spread high school innovation through hackathons, Nikhil and Arnav decided to go a step further and directly help students found their own companies as well. Over the past year, 18Tech Ventures has not only continued to help hackathon organizers make events more accessible for all demographics, but has also helped dozens of enterprising teens across the nation in taking their innovative ideas a step further and creating tech companies. In order to make this possible, 18Tech Ventures connects young entrepreneurs with a network of technical mentors across industries such as cybersecurity, finance, and artificial intelligence, and helps them overcome the legal barriers of incorporation, taxes, and filing for patents.
“There’s a lot of potential in the ideas that are thought up at hackathons and it’s a real shame that they don’t get developed further. That’s why we decided to try and bring some ideas to life” - Arun Sundaresan, Board Treasurer at 18Tech Ventures
By offering teen startups organizational and legal assistance as well as connecting them with mentors in their industry, 18Tech Ventures has been able to successfully aid students nationwide in bringing their ideas to life. As rising seniors going forward into next year, both Nikhil and Arnav aim to continue helping both hackathons and young entrepreneurs in order to further their mission of democratizing the process of entrepreneurship for all students, regardless of background.
18Tech Ventures is a nonprofit dedicated to helping hackathons thrive and helping to turn the technologies created at hackathons into fully functioning startups. The organization’s main goal is to expand the opportunity of entrepreneurship to all students.