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Derrick Franco

Derrick Franco

Founder /CEO, BluRush Media, LLC

Like many TED enthusiasts, Derrick Franco has watched TED Talks online for some time and was excited to hear of the opportunity to speak locally.

“I like the openness and the new ideas TED Talks brought out,” he said of what he had seen online. “When I heard, I instantly applied.”

The 22-year-old has been involved in start-up companies, both as an entrepreneur and as an employee, since he was 16, and he will bring that experience to the stage for his TED Talk in February.

Franco said he started his career in start-ups at 16 working for his uncle’s web development company part-time. That gave him his first look at how start-up companies work, and at 17, he started his own web development company, which he ran for a 1 ½ years. He then took his experience to a penny auction site working on their web marketing and maintenance and said he learned a lot. While working there, he started another company, as well.

The key at each, he said, was his own self-motivation. He would start at the bottom and work his way up. He was one of the first five people hired at his current employer, which now has more than 30 employees.

“I’ve always been someone … that my mind is always racing,” he said, adding Google and Wikipedia have been a blessing because “when I see something or I hear about something, I just go ahead and learn it.”

During his time with those various start-ups, Franco said he has learned as much from failing as succeeding. “I learned a lot over the last five or six years because I’ve failed.”

And now, he wants to take lessons like that and apply them to the field of education.

“I’ve seen myself and others that have failed and we learned from that, but in education, it’s not really an educational opportunity,” he said.

Rather than punishing students for failing a test by just giving them a bad grade, he’d like to see them get a chance to learn the material they missed and take the test again. He believes that this and other lessons from how start-ups work could help to improve education as a whole.

“Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to see how start-ups operate and what makes them move so fast and be so innovative,” he said, adding he believes applying some of those principles to how the education system is run would make students more prepared for the real world.

“I want my audience to walk away seeing how the system has its flaws and seeing how much we could improve,” he said.

Watch his TEDxTalk.