Aaron Golbin's DebateIsland
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By Sheema Kazi and Sriya Chatterjee
How often have we thought of starting something of our own, but then just dropped the idea, assuming we are not ready for it yet! The story of Aaron Golbin, a 16-year-old from New York, bursts this bubble of ours and shows us how age and resources are never a barrier to one's dreams. His journey is a sample of how, with firm determination, everything that seems impossible starts getting in place.
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Aaron Golbin began his adventure as an entrepreneur at the age of 8-years-old (3rd grade). At such an age, children are usually busy playing games and engaging in various activities, but many of his interests made him stand out from the rest. In 2012, Aaron decided to start a small organization where he would organize indoor and outdoor activities for his fellow schoolmates during lunch hours. The company was branded Kings Corporation in 2012. There were about 20 volunteers and 50 students who used the services within his elementary school. This initiative was highly appreciated￼ and supported by his parents, students, teachers, and school administration. To start the venture, he had to figure out how to source materials like games and equipment for the activities, reserve space, recruit volunteers, oversee operations, and market the business to students. The Kings Corporations initiative gave him a sense of what owning a business meant, and it fueled Aaron's passion for entrepreneurship, marketing, and social entrepreneurship.
In addition to his passion for entrepreneurship, Aaron has also always had an interest in technology. In 5th grade, knowing his fascination with tech, Aaron decided to learn about computer programming. The exposure in coding and entrepreneurship helped him create his largest venture yet at age 12. DebateIsland (https://debateisland.com/), a globally leading online debate platform that is utilizing Artificial Intelligence and revolutionizes the online debating experience. It is transforming the education industry through DebateIsland Education (https://www.debateisland.com/education), an innovative solution that aims to help students better retain information, and build more knowledge, about the topics they're taught in class while developing critical thinking and debating skills through the incorporation of online debate in students' learning. At DebateIsland, Aaron serves as the Chief Executive Officer. DebateIsland's "Debra" Artificial Intelligence helps users improve their debating skills by analyzing various aspects of their debate arguments. Debra AI can also predict the winners of online debates, create user analytics, displays users' most likely political affiliation, and supported presidential candidate/s based on the users' arguments.
DebateIsland Education (https://www.debateisland.com/education) was launched in 2020 and added a new dimension to the company. It is bringing the online debate to schools worldwide with the mission of creating an interactive and fun experience to help students become even better debaters and critical thinkers while improving their information- retention and knowledge on topics they're taught in class.
DebateIsland Education enables teachers to bring the classroom online in an engaging way and would allow students to apply the knowledge they are taught in class. It uses debate and discussing the topics teachers cover through an online private classroom that supports video, audio, and text online debating. By creating effective arguments and debating with their peers, students develop their critical thinking skills, better retain the information their teacher teaches them, and gain even more knowledge in the debate through reading arguments written by others.
DebateIsland's Educational platform can be used by teachers to post debates for students based on any of DebateIsland's five formats (Casual, Persuade, Formalist, Formal Traditional, and Lincoln-Douglas). They start educational discussions, upload lectures for students to view, and even create assignments. Educators can also use DebateIsland Education to review units through fun online debates, host online debates as a part of, or after classes to help boost information retention and knowledge. They build brighter students who become excellent critical thinkers and debaters on the tournament level, or in a casual environment like debating with peers.
Aaron's mission for DebateIsland is to promote civil discussion and debate globally and to make online debating mainstream through an incredible onlineexperience where anyone can debate just about anything in a casual format, or a formal one. The website has already gained about 20,000 registered users and is continuing to grow. Currently, the company is one of the three largest online debate platforms in the world. Along with this accomplishment, DebateIsland has also received an award for its user-friendly design. Aaron and his companies have been featured in many publications, including Forbes, Inc, M.S.N. Money, and Kidpreneurs.
Despite DebateIsland's huge platform, it is not Golbin's only venture. His portfolio also includes LostCry (https://www.lostcry.com), a startup that he founded in 2017 and currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer. LostCry is an online platform where people can share their ancestor's stories of hardship (Holocaust, Wars, Genocides, Immigration, etc.) It is a great place to learn about the experiences of others' ancestors and many events in history. The idea for the startup emerged shortly after Aaron's great grandmother, Tsilya Gershman Zaslavsky, a 94-year-old Holocaust survivor, shared her diary entries about her experience during the Holocaust with him. In addition to creating LostCry, he also wrote a lengthy essay about Tsilya Zaslavsky's experience during the terrible event, which is featured in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (https://archive.org/details/bib267959_001_001/mode/2up).
In addition to LostCry (https://www.LostCry.com/TsilyaZaslavsky), Aaron also wrote about his great grandfather, Mikhail Zaslavsky, a 97-year-old World War Two Veteran. Mikhail Zaslavsky is a very honorable veteran who proudly served in the Soviet Union army to fight the Nazis in World War Two. During the battle, Mikhail was injured three times by Nazi soldiers but thankfully made a full recovery. He has won numerous medals for his service and currently resides in New York with his wife, Tsilya Zaslavsky.
In addition to founding DebateIsland and LostCry, Aaron also established BestDealWins, an online platform, which Aaron closed in 2020 due to time constraints, that aimed to gamify saving money online. With Aaron's comprehensive knowledge in numerous topics, including entrepreneurship, technology, product development, and business, in late 2019, he joined iDEA. This organization's mission was to instill an entrepreneurial mindset in youth and underprivileged areas through education. At iDEA, Aaron was a Board Member and Director of Organizational Strategy and Operations.
Then, in early 2020, Aaron and many members of the team at iDEA co-founded Hatchr (https://www.hatchr.org). This soon-to-launch startup guides college students and children in underprivileged communities interested in entrepreneurship through interactive educational experiences that teach attendees about a variety of topics related to STEM, business, and entrepreneurship following an innovative curriculum made for their age group. Aaron serves as the Chief Technology Officer (C.T.O.) and Director of Strategy at Hatchr.
Handling these ventures, along with his studies, is not an easy job! Time-management was one of the most significant hurdles of his. Over time, he worked to improve his time management skills and continues to do so. How wonderful is it to turn your problems into things that help you grow!
Aaron shares a message to budding entrepreneurs, "Without the knowledge we get from learning, we cannot create or improve products. Continuously learning and improving is a key part of becoming a great entrepreneur." This attitude of Aaron makes the quote of Thomas A. Edison, "There's a way to do it better – find it.", his favorite one.
Having started at such an early age without a college degree, or even a Middle School degree at the time, Aaron believes that everything we will need to begin our entrepreneurial journey is present online. He stresses the numerous courses and interactive learning websites like CodeAcademy.com, EdX.com, and others that are present online to help us gain knowledge of business, marketing, technology, computer programming, management. He also applied a range of other topics; and insists that budding entrepreneurs can use these resources to change the impossible into the possible.
Sheema Kazi is our creative content writer. She is pursuing her Bachelor's degree in B.E. (Information Science and Engineering) from K.L.E. Institute of Technology, Hubli, Karnataka.
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