Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal and CEO of Affirm, recently visited the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University. Levchin met with departmental student organization leaders and shared experiences from his undergraduate career and other bumps and triumphs along the road that led to his success.
An open pitch session was also held, giving 12 students and entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their own ideas to Levchin and receive immediate feedback from the successful entrepreneur and his team.
“This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for our students to learn from and pitch their ideas to a personality like Max Levchin,” said Dr. Nancy Amato, Unocal and Regents Professor and senior director of the Engineering Honors Program.
That night, Levchin sat down with Engineering Honors student, Sahil Dhanju and Eppright Professor, Dr. Lawrence Rauchwerger, for an informal Fireside Chat, which was managed with the help of computer science engineering honors students.
"The fireside chat was an awesome opportunity to have some back and forth conversation and debate with Max through different perspectives," Dhanju said. "It definitely helped me gain a better grasp of various subjects, such as graduate school, venture capitalists, the twists and turns of building a company from the ground up, and so much more."
This was Levchin’s third University Tech Tour and Texas A&M was his second stop. He concluded this tour in Austin, Texas, at South by Southwest, where he presented a keynote talk, “Unstoppable Trends That Are Changing the World.”
"Lack of diversity in Silicon Valley is a serious issue and this tour gives me and my teams the opportunity to find top talent within underrepresented populations such as women and other minorities,” Levchin said.
Levchin, who graduated from the University of Illinois in 1997, is a serial entrepreneur, computer scientist, philanthropist and active investor in early stage startups. His goal for each Tech Tour is to recruit diverse talent with fresh ideas. He said he also hopes to be a mentor for young people who have the drive and desir to begin a startup company. This was evident as he engaged students during his visit. He welcomed questions from students and was eager to share his knowledge and wisdom through personal experiences.
Levchin’s current venture, Affirm, is using modern technology to reimagine and rebuild core components of financial infrastructure from the ground up and claims to have no hidden fees, no added costs and no fine print.
He wanted to provide a better way to pay. Instead of using a credit card with compounding interest rates that can get out of hand, you pay in simple installments that fit your budget, and know exactly what your total cost will be.
Levchin is also the chairman of Glow, a women’s reproductive health company, which recently debuted its newest application, Glow Baby. Both Affirm and Glow were created and launched from his San Francisco based innovation and investment lab, HVF, which stands for Hard, Valuable, Fun.
"I have put together a collective of the best minds in finance and technology and we are revolutionizing the banking industry to be smarter, more accessible and more accountable to the people it serves,” Levchin said.
In 2002, Levchin was named one of the top 100 innovators in the world as well as Innovator of the Year by the MIT Review. He has served on several boards such as Yahoo! and Evernote and was recently appointed to the Consumer Advisory Board of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.