Eric Liu '17 already has a long history in entrepreneurship. He started his first business when he was just 14, an online platform aimed to connect tech savvy teenagers with small businesses. Though the platform only lasted a month, Liu took what he had learned from the experience to apply it to the creation of non-profit MountEDU, which connects children in isolated and impoverished rural areas with the outside world.
"Currently we are helping four impoverished villages in China and are looking to possibly expand into Vietnam this summer," the 17-year-old said of the work he and co-founders Coco Wu '18 and Jerry Yao '18 have done with the organization, which won recognition in the Building Your Community Challenge of last year's Tom Tom Festival Youth Summit.
In summer 2016 Liu went to the MIT Launch summer program in Boston, and while attempting to exchange contact information with other participants came up with the idea for his third initiative.
"The program had 70 students, and when we first met, of course the first thing to do was connect with each other on social media platforms and exchange contact information," remembered Liu. "However, it quickly became a headache, because the process of following everyone on multiple social platforms was way too tedious.
"Swap is the first ever app that allows you to automatically follow someone on multiple social platforms with just one scan or click. If I want to connect with you, I just need to scan your Swap Code, a QR Code, or click Swap with you and I'll instantly follow you on all of the social platforms you choose to share, or save any of the contact information make available. or save you contact info that you chooses to share. With Swap, just one step is needed to connect on all platforms."
Having taken the School's social entrepreneurship Intensive two years in a row, Liu credits the course with inspiring him to continue with his many project ideas.
"I can say that the Intensive was what first told me that I could be an entrepreneur at any age," he said. "You hear people telling you that you don't have any experience, you are not old enough, you don't have a degree... don't ever listen to those people. If you have an idea that you are passionate about and want to pursue, make it into a reality. And don't find excuses for yourself. If there's one thing I've learned from entrepreneurship, it is that there's no previous experience necessarily needed."
Over the summer, Liu and his Swap co-founders Michael Bingham, David Sklater, and Nakul Goel will work to expand the app by collaborating with college orientation programs and pushing new updates when they become available.
Swap is available now via the App Store under the full name "Swap Connections," and has seen 300% growth in its first month of availability.