Before he became the CEO of the world’s largest Q&A website, David Karandish, BS ‘05 and fellow engineer and business partner Chris Sims, BS ’05 spent a lot of time on campus brainstorming on how to better utilize the power of the Internet.
While pursuing a second major in Entrepreneurship, Karandish discussed one of their ideas - to create a consumer information company - with Professor Bart Hamilton of the Olin School of Business. Hamilton helped to structure a plan that would position their idea for success.
Karandish and Sims also credit the Skandalaris Center for helping to establish their company. “My role model in business has been Professor Ken Harrington, director of the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. He’s been a great mentor,” Karandish says. “He’s also underscored the importance of networking and connecting with people.”
Harrington introduced Karandish and Sims to business school guest lecturer, entrepreneur and Washington University alum and WU Trustee, Tom Hillman, BA ’78. In 2006, with an investment from Hillman, they co-founded AFCV Holdings, now Answers.
Headquartered in St. Louis’ Delmar Loop, Answers currently employs people locally with additional offices in New York City and Mountain View, California. Answers is one of the top destinations for Q&A content.
Recently Karandish and Sims decided to pay their entrepreneurial success forward by hiring 12 Washington University student interns from multiple disciplines. Each intern was responsible for building content, designing one of the more than 150 vertical sites owned by Answers, and addressing business issues. It was a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse into the strategic operations of one of the hottest Internet companies in the world.
“People who are able to recognize that we live in a global society and that there are big opportunities—not just in the U.S., but all over the world—using technology to connect people are the ones who are going to be successful,” Karandish says.
Hillman remains committed to supporting the Washington University entrepreneurial network as well. “The hardest thing in life, when you’ve done it all, is figuring out how to move from success to significance,” Hillman says. “The real jewel for me is to mentor young people who want to make a difference. That’s one of the reasons you find me at the university a lot.”
Working together, Washington University helps students pursue promising ventures and arms them with the skills they need to connect and succeed.