The youngest entrepreneur.
Jordan arrived at the “Coffee with a Creative” meeting as a surprise guest. Jose Camacho, the second creative I invited to the meeting, asked his friend to join the meeting providing him with little to no context of the situation. Likewise, I knew nothing of him other than he was also someone who has design experience. When he arrived with Jose, we all gave brief introductions and typical first exchanges. Jordon was the only person that I had no prior knowledge of so I asked him to introduce himself and what he did as a creative. It turns out, having “design experience” was a massive understatement. When he told me that he began his own business as a co-founder for a social learning platform, Nectir, I quickly realized that this 20-year-old man was an impressive innovator and rising young entrepreneur.
Jordan Long wanted to become an architect, focusing on industrial designs as he was fascinated with the idea of creating something that would form spaces for human interaction. Starting April 2018, he co-founded a virtual learning space for students and professors to engage with one another through a messaging platform called, Nectir. He discovered his passion for fusing learning and technology when he decided to design a drone in high school for a 24-hour project. During this time, he mentioned that he hated learning in class, and was constantly distracted by the rote learning methods of standard school lessons. But after completing this challenging yet fulfilling task, he realized that he learned the most during social interaction with his group members and active research for online resources.
This realization marked the beginnings of Nectir, a messaging platform designed solely to enhance student and professor communication through incorporating social messaging platforms for easy and accessible interaction. It’s slogan, “A community in every class”, is a nod to the problem professors face when trying to engage and energize students who have to divide their attention between other classes, extracurriculars, social media. Tasks are tedious and communication between professor and student is often too formalized between e-mails. As the website puts it,
“when you create an online community for your class, you’re empowering your students to take control of their own education.”
Currently, the communication department is utilizing this platform as way for professors to communicate freely with students. Jordan compared the platform to Slack. The user interface is similar but the user experience is much more efficient. “Good artists copy, great artists steal,” said Jordan, as he continued to compare the two platforms. Nectir is not a copy of Slack, but rather a platform designed for a specific problem, therefore making it much quicker to change the user experience as needed. “Slack is like a tractor while Nectir is like a racecar, ” Jordan explained,”there is no reason to take classes when you can do what you need to do through the internet. People learn better through social situations.”
Everyone at the table agreed. As self-taught designers, we realize just how important social interaction and learning from one another can be–especially at a research based institution like UCSB. The reason why we were all seated in that cafe that afternoon was because we learned how to design and create, not through formal education, but through online communities. Even my ideation for “Coffee with a Creative,” was inspired by the meetings I’ve had with other designers and the advice I extracted from the rich conversations. Interacting with online communities and learning from people you admire is an essential part to growing as a designer. Similarly, Jose, Matt and Jordan all learned about their respective fields through finding inspirations such as Julie Zhuo, the vice president of product design at Facebook, Don Norman, the grandfather of UX design and Elon Musk, leading figure in innovative technology, to learn about their processes.
“Design is, to me, used to solve problems that uses technology,” said Jordan.
At the moment, Jordan is in charge of the technical management of the website. Graphic design, logo, coding, product design and sales. The team is made up of two co-founders and a growing team of interns. Jordan Young is truly the youngest all-rounder. This conversation made me realize just how important learning and community is and how technology has made it so much easier for us to become self-starters. I knew that coming in, but this discussion further reinforced my belief that learning from peers is one of the most valuable things in an educational environment.
Read the next blog post: Jose Camacho: “I’m wearing too many hats right now and I’m not sure which one is my favorite.”