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CEO at 21: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Young Founders

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At an age when most college grads are happily taking orders on the bottommost corporate rung, CEOs Zach Sims and Nikhil Sethi (22 and 23 years-old, respectively) are leading fast growing businesses. Sims heads Codecademy, an interactive website that trains users in software programming, while Sethi runs Adaptly, a company that helps brands advertise across social media. With limited experience, these young entrepreneurs are successfully navigating the enormous challenges of building a business: raising capital, hiring and managing team members, closing partnerships and dealing with the press. In this panel, moderator J.J. Colao, a 25 year-old Forbes magazine reporter covering entrepreneurs, speaks with Sims and Sethi about their experiences running top-tier startups and their advice for the next crop of young founders.


Adam Goldstein CEO Hipmunk

J.J. Colao Reporter Forbes

J.J. Colao writes about entrepreneurs and startups for Forbes. Before becoming a journalist he spent a year toiling in startup obscurity at

Nikhil Sethi CEO Adaptly

Nikhil Sethi is the Co-founder and CEO of Adaptly, a platform that is changing the way brands increase engagement on social networks by helping them harness the unique value of each social network. Prior to Adaptly, Sethi co-founded Blurtt, which allows users to make, upload and send real postcards to friends around the world. Sethi has previously worked at HBO as well as True Ventures in San Francisco. Sethi is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he studied electrical engineering and law. Sethi is the youngest advisory board member of the NUvention Web, the web entrepreneurship program at his alma mater Northwestern University. Originally from the Bay Area, Sethi currently lives in New York.