But early in his entrepreneurial career, as a college student, he found himself making “every possible mistake one could make as a rookie entrepreneur” – which led to the failure of his first business.
At that moment, he made a promise to himself: if he ever succeeded in the future, he would work to ensure that no young entrepreneur ever felt alone or struggled without the proper resources again.
Gerber knew he needed candid advice and support from his fellow Gen Y entrepreneurs who’d been there, done that.
Nearly a decade later, with several successful businesses in tow, he realized his vision with the first version of YEC: an informal brain trust of like-minded peers who wanted to help each other’s businesses grow, while also supporting the millions of aspiring young entrepreneurs just getting started.
“We want to assemble the best of the best.”
From the start, the YEC was an invitation-only forum to exchange ideas and resources, make high-value connections and provide needed mentorship.
When Gerber met Ryan Paugh — Brazen Careerist co-founder and “something of a cult legend in the online community-building world” — they began building out the YEC community on a larger scale.
A few short years later, “the most elite entrepreneurship organization in America” — to date, the invite-only organization has accepted less than 10 percent of the over 14,000 applications — is helping disrupt business mentorship and the professional business organization model as we know it.
Paying it forward while supporting each other’s growth is integral to YEC’s mission to empower young entrepreneurs, who, across the board, believe that doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive — nor should they be.
To that end, the YEC has led various public campaigns to improve access to and policy around entrepreneurship, from the FixYoungAmerica grassroots campaign to the Youth Entrepreneurship Act and, more recently, the launch of BusinessCollective, a virtual mentorship program (in partnership with Citi) that helps millions of aspiring and current entrepreneurs launch and grow new businesses. YEC also launched the MentorshipNetwork so members can give back by working with top organizations, like Junior Achievement, that support the next generation of business leaders.
“Everything we do at the YEC is meant to fulfill a social need and promote free enterprise at the same time, while also curating meaningful connections among our generation’s most successful entrepreneurs,” says Gerber.
“If we can create a series of mentorship programs for aspiring entrepreneurs, and unprecedented access to high-level resources and connections for our elite members at the same time, then we’ve achieved something very powerful.”