Congratulations to Alex Koren, Explo Alum (2003 + 2004) and CEO and co-founder of Hyv, who just won a prestigious $100,000 Thiel Fellowship!
What is a Thiel Fellowship? In the Thiel Foundation's own words:
The Thiel Fellowship is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. The Fellowship brings together some of the world’s most creative and motivated young people, and helps them bring their most ambitious ideas and projects to life. Thiel Fellows are given a no-strings-attached grant of $100,000 to skip college and focus on their work, their research, and their self-education. They are mentored by our network of visionary thinkers, investors, scientists, and entrepreneurs, who provide guidance and business connections that can’t be replicated in any classroom. Rather than just studying, you’re doing.
In August of 2013, Alex Koren founded Hyv with Sheldon Trotman. Students at The Johns Hopkins University and MIT, respectively, Alex and Sheldon created Hyv, a hive mind that would connect the "unused processing space in mobile devices to create a global supercomputer."
As Alex told TechCrunch's Derek Khanna, Hyv “will revolutionize the way we view and utilize big data.”
This past April, Alex joined 39 other Thiel Fellowship finalists for a weekend-long competition, which involved team challenges, creative problem-solving competitions, and each fellowship candidate pitching their project to a panel of judges — in two minutes or less.
WIRED TV filmed the weekend, creating a 2014 Thiel Fellowship Documentary mini-series called Teen Technorati. In Episode 3, titled "The LEGO Challenge: Creative-Problem Solving," teams of candidates work together to build working bridges out of LEGOs. Alex, whose team builds a bridge reminiscent of a strand of DNA, quickly emerges as his group's leader.
“I am 100% a leader and that’s not even a question,” Alex Koren says. “I make people feel like there’s so much more out there, and they can become their own leaders, just by following me for just a little bit.”
It's a trait, coupled with his natural charisma and inclusive nature, that carries him through both the competition and his two-minute pitch to earn his spot as one of the 20 fellowship winners. As Alex says, when he finds out he's made it, "I don't think I've ever been at a point in my life where it could just go one of two ways. They're both great, but so...opposite directions. And I am super excited. You have no idea — you've just absolutely changed my life."
“I want to leave a legacy,” Alex says.”I want to be remembered as someone who comes up with a solution that never existed before to a problem that’s always been there. I want to change the world.”
Alex Koren (19, Bergen County, NJ) is working on the new wave of crowd-sourced supercomputing and mobile monetization. He’s the co-founder of the start-up Hyv, which has built a platform for globally distributed computing. He envisions a world where users can not only use their devices for entertainment and communication, but also for social progress.