While other young girls were playing with Barbie dolls, senior April Chang was contemplating her future in the business world.
“I’ve been playing with my own E*trade portfolio since I was 12,” Chang said. “I’ve wanted to work in business for as long as I can remember. When I was little, my mom would buy doctor toys for me because she wanted me to go into medicine, but I refused to touch them. I told my parents I wanted to be Bill Gates.”
Continuing with her passion, this summer, Chang attended Leadership in the Business World (LBW), an intense four-week summer program sponsored by the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Students spent two weeks in San Francisco followed by two weeks in Philadelphia. They developed business ideas and then presented their ideas before a board of venture capitalists.
“I’d always thought I’d need to graduate from high school, graduate from college to start a business,” Chang said. “But the other kids I met at LBW, they’d already started businesses.”
Chang’s four-member group at LBW initially designed an app called “Backtrack” as a twist on Spotify and Pandora. Backtrack began as a music browsing and streaming station where listeners can share music with their friends. This idea then developed into a social media site for music listeners where artists and fans could interact as well as browse music and listen to Internet radio.
“Right now, if you want to share your favorite song, you have to find the YouTube video, copy the link and paste it into your friend’s Facebook profile,” Chang said. “It’s really quite annoying, especially for avid music fans like me who make sure my friends hear every new K-pop song. To encourage this song-sharing process, Backtrack has an extensive, ad-free music library with millions of songs.”
Backtrack plans to foster better relationships between music consumers and producers.
“The problem with the music apps that are out now is their relationships with the artists,” Chang said. “Pandora, Spotify, they’re not paying proper royalties to the artists, so a lot of them are pulling their music. We want our relationship with the artists to be a mutually beneficial one.”
Although the app was entirely hypothetical at first, after the program was over, the group decided to move forward with the app. Chang and the rest of her group spent Christmas break meeting with possible investors and pitching their app.
“April is determined, hardworking and committed to business,” April’s sister freshman Sophia Chang said. “She works very hard to develop her business at home all the time.”
Chang is the Chief Financial Officer of the group.
“I’m the one who befriends Excel in my attempts to conjure income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements,” Chang said. “Max Snow is our visionary and passionate leader from New York. Ryan Klobus is in charge of operations and also comes from New York. Fred Kim, our Chief Technology Officer, is from Korea but attends Eaton College in England.”
The quartet has already outlined its business plan.
“We’re going to make a minimum viable product, like a prototype, first,” Chang said. “We’ll be depending a lot upon user feedback, testing out what does and does not work. We’re outsourcing the app design to a programmer we met using Toptal. Then we’ll eventually get to launch the perfected product.”
Chang and her group have already been in touch with the managers of Macklemore, Adele and Justin Timberlake.
“At the beginning of the year, April had phone calls with several different lawyers about setting up the business,” senior Claire Jones said. “That would faze most seventeen year olds, but not April.”
Chang considers Warren Buffett to be one of her role models.
“Really, I admire anyone who can transform their dreams into a reality. But as a general rule of thumb, Warren Buffett is a figure everyone should look up to,” Chang said. “He’s an influential man with a very powerful tool — the ability to understand how money works, yet he remains humble and generous.”
Chang’s peers know her as hard-working and knowledgeable about the business world she is entering. Next fall, she will attend the Wharton School.
“April has a killer work ethic and a compulsive desire to do her best,” senior Austin Allday said.
Chang plans to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams into college and beyond. She hopes to earn her MBA and become an investment banker.
“To me, business is about using your passion to create something entirely new, and putting in sweat, blood and tears until this creation transforms into an invention that’ll revolutionize the world,” Chang said. “It’s about turning a mere, intangible idea into something concrete that the entire world can feel.”