Tell us your name and a little about yourself.
My name is Dave Shah and I’m a 20-year-old breather of everything, entrepreneurship, mentorship, technology, adventure, and discovery. Both my story and career path begin 6 years ago when I gained traction in the entrepreneurial world at age 14 as a professional kiteboarder & GoPro Athlete. Having fellow kiteboarding mentors like Larry Page and Richard Branson instilled a desire in me to create, take risks, and be fearless in the pursuit of my visions. In 2015, when I was a junior in high school, I founded Crave on Campus, a food delivery app for college students. In three months we had over 25,000 users at 10 major universities. After Crave’s exit early my senior year, I founded Wve Labs, a technology development company, to empower and enable entrepreneurs to actualize their visions. Today, I serve as the CEO of Wve Labs and a Managing Partner of Wve Ventures, a pre-seed venture arm. I’m also an avid pilot, a part-time student at USC, a member of the Forbes Technology Council & YEC and Contributor to Entrepreneur.
What exactly does your company do?
Wve Labs is a technology development company specializing in mobile app development. We were founded on the mission of empowering young entrepreneurs who lack both the monetary resources and technical backgrounds necessary to actualize their visions. Wve Labs offers end to end development services including ideation, UI/UX studio, development, testing, legal services and marketing. In 2 years Wve has grown from a group of 7 to a team of 100 employees with offices in 4 countries. We now work with startups and Fortune 500 companies alike! Wve also has two other branches. Wve Ventures seeks out and invests in college-age entrepreneurs and their ideas by providing a 50% development discount and introductions to partnering VC’s. Going through the struggle of launching three businesses while in high school inspired me to launch my most recent venture, Wve Collective, a non-profit dedicated to discovering, empowering, and guiding the next generation of entrepreneurs through a series of accelerated entrepreneurship courses for high school students.
What were the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
Big challenge number one: Getting our first Wve Labs client. It’s hard to sell with little to no work to show for your company. We locked in our first few clients by jumping into their idea entirely and treating it as if it were a product of our own. That method, of fusing ourselves, services, and company mission to their vision are what got us off the ground. Big challenge number two: Scaling Wve Labs. My co-founder and I decided we didn’t want to raise any outside money to help our company grow. So we set off bootstrapping. That entailed many late nights of balancing budgets, assessing operational efficiency, brainstorming unique sales tactics and strategizing expansion plans. Luckily we ended up landing a game-changing deal that enabled us to expand drastically in just a few months.
What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?
Fail, fail, FAIL!!! Fail early and fail fast. More importantly, fail forward. If you succeed you learn but if you fail, you learn a hell of a lot more. Always remember to apply the lessons failure will teach you. Failure isn’t something to be ashamed of, it’s an opportunity to thrive, grow, evolve and adjust from. You’ll never have a better teacher than failure. As hard as it may be, embrace it with love, respect and the drive to push onward
Who are your biggest influences and people you admire and why?
My parents came here from India and started two companies. Growing up, I went to work with them every day and as I got older, they explained everything business/entrepreneurship to me. As they worked harder and persevered, I watched their business grow. They are the ones who first instilled the drive in me to work tirelessly in creating a venture capable of adding value to humanity.
Someone I admire immensely is Brent Hoberman, co-founder of Founders Forum. The community he’s created is instrumental in opening the dialogue around innovating a better future. His ability to both curate and foster meaningful human connection blows me away.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
I have to thank Tom Katis, founder of Voxer for kickstarting my entrepreneurial journey. When I was 15 I asked him for an internship. he responded with something along the lines of “You know Dave, you’ll learn a lot more if you go start your own app, so no.” That’s why I started Crave on Campus and the root of the reason why I am where I am today. And again, my parents. They’ve been my go-to mentors and biggest supporters every step of the way.
What do you see as your greatest success in life?
I get to wake up every day and do what I love: connect, lead, share and inspire. The experiences I had so early on in my life constantly enable me to push, empower, mentor and meaningfully connect with other young, aspiring entrepreneurs and visionaries alike. Although I know I still have a lifetime of learning ahead of me, it’s the abundance of knowledge I’ve collected at my age combined with my love of mentoring that I deem my greatest success in life.
How can people contact you?