Siebert ’07 brings entrepreneurial media to rural schools
Taylor Siebert ‘07 might have not always received the best grades in school, but he knew how to work hard.
“I was an average kid; I got an 18 on the ACT twice,” he says. “I had to work really hard to get average grades.”
After graduating from Heartland Community high school in 2003, Siebert enrolled at Doane, where he studied Business Administration with emphases on marketing and management. Once he arrived on campus, he surrounded himself with supportive friends and peers to help him excel academically.
“I lived in the ‘nerd’ quad and surrounded myself with people that wanted to learn,” he says. “But they also wanted to enjoy their time there as well. It was a great balance.”
Taylor’s network, combined with his love of technology, helped show him a path for his life. He remembers receiving a first generation MacBook during his senior year at Doane. He recognized the opportunity this new technology presented himself immediately.
“The reason I wanted it was because it had the Photos app, iMovie, iWeb, GarageBand, it had all these free tools,” he says. “I just liked to create content. So naturally, I got all my friends together and we just started creating content and getting all this feedback from people that were engaging with it, thinking this is really fun. I had no idea that would turn into anything but I always had that.
“Then social media came around.” This was a revelation to Taylor.
“I'm like, ‘oh my gosh now I can share this content out with all these people and they don't have to be in my dorm room to see it,’” he says. “It was like this whole new world.”
Taylor saw the promise of connected technology early. After selling insulation equipment and operating a social media based news service in Henderson, Taylor founded Striv, a start-up business that lets students livestream events on behalf of their schools.
“We’re changing their lives because of those experiences,” Taylor says. “The idea of having this platform to share video content, but then we provide a lot of education. If you want to start a podcast or create graphics or do a hype video, we can help you with that. ”
Taylor says high schools want to stream their own sports, and rural audiences want to watch those streams. Schools can create commercials and play them during the streams, making the paid streaming suite an alternative revenue stream for the schools as well.
Striv is operated by students at the schools that buy it, so it doubles as an educational tool. It brings all the capabilities of a big city A/V club to rural students, allowing them to gain experience in contemporary media production and storytelling.
“We want them to act like a media company at their school,” Taylor says. “A lot of schools have news shows, so kids were learning how to interview other people. That’s been really fun to just give them.”
Ever with content on his mind, it wasn’t enough for Taylor to just bring livestreaming capabilities to rural schools. Social media itself is more than just streaming, and he believes in its power to connect students with their communities. He recognizes that students have better social media skills than their schools, so why not invent a way to let students create social media content for their schools directly? (with administrator approval, of course)
That’s why he co-founded his newest venture, Class Intercom. It’s a suite of software that allows select students and staff at a school to publish content to a school’s social media sites, all with administrator approval. He’s already sold the service to 150 schools across 30 states, so the start-up is taking off.
“It’s been a slow journey,” Taylor says. “Just building that and using the connections we’ve made, taking all the things we’ve learned.”
Taylor said Doane taught him to work hard and to view every challenge in life as another brick in whatever he’s trying to build. He’s utilizing this philosophy in his start-ups. But after all is said and done, there’s still one thing about Doane that nothing he does will ever top.
“I joke that the best return on investment for Doane was finding my wife there,” he says. “Jessica, from Elm Creek.”
Taylor has received some recognition for his commitment to rural entrepreneurship. He was selected this year as a recipient of the Nebraska Third Congressional District’s inaugural Young Entrepreneur Awards. The awards are meant to “celebrate the efforts of young and rising leaders who strengthen their communities with their entrepreneurial spirit,” according to a press release from Nebraska Third District Rep. Adrian Young. Taylor is honored to have been selected.
“I am extremely thankful to be a part of the group that was given this award,” he says. “It’s not about me though. It’s about the team we’ve built that is serving schools and students.
“Everyone has bought into the vision we have to help schools share their story online.”