It’s surprising. But, then again, it isn’t.
Taylor Keen, an entrepreneur instructor at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business, wasn’t all that surprised when Alexis Taylor was named CEO of 3 Day Startup (3DS).
“Alexis was one of the brightest lights we’ve ever had at the college,” Keen says.
Still, assuming the top leadership role at the organization she helped bring to Creighton’s campus in 2013 is quite the feat. As Keen acknowledges of her accomplishment, “How many 26-year-old CEOs do you know?”
On June 1, Taylor took over the top job at 3 Day Startup in Austin, Texas. 3DS is billed as the world’s leading experiential entrepreneurship education organization.
Founded by a group of students who wished to stimulate entrepreneurial potential in other students, the first 3DS program was launched at the University of Texas at Austin in 2008. It has since spread to 30 countries, spanning six continents.
Nearly 13,000 students have participated in the program, and its alumni have launched 135 new companies – and counting.
“I saw Alexis as our future CEO two years ago. She is one of the most impactful individuals I have ever encountered and possesses qualities that make her a one-of-a-kind individual,” says Cam Houser, founder and chief innovation officer and Taylor’s predecessor in the role.
“Her love of international collaboration, empathetic leadership style and the ability to build relationships that lead to outcomes will make her an excellent CEO of 3DS,” he says. “There’s no one I would feel more comfortable taking over 3 Day Startup.”
When Taylor first heard about 3DS as an intern at Dundee Venture Capital, she looked at similar programs across the U.S. to replicate on Creighton’s campus. Then, armed with knowledge and even more enthusiasm, she built what she calls a “rock star” team, and they launched Creighton’s 3DS program the fall of her senior year.
Not only did they capture the parent organization’s attention, but the experience made Taylor rethink her future.
“Instead of pursuing a traditional career path, I had the opportunity to do something different and pursue a path that aligned with the impact I wanted to create in this world,” the 2014 Creighton graduate says.
It was a perspective shift she shared with her fellow student entrepreneurs.
“The transformation I saw from the participants in terms of their agency and confidence, the permission they had to own their future, and their renewed sense and purpose in the world was incredible,” Taylor says. “It’s hard to see your value and your potential when you’re siloed in your own major.
“In 3DS programs, people have to adapt to thrive and hone their unique skill sets to contribute to a team and something larger than themselves,” she says.
For Taylor, that “something” is channeling the powers of entrepreneurism into promoting world peace through “increased prosperity, opportunity and human flourishing,” she says.
She is an avid believer in the partnership between public, private and civil society to achieve this goal, and its pursuit has taken her to Turkey for the Global Entrepreneurship Congress and Egypt and Washington, D.C., for a monthlong global leadership fellowship.
Taylor relishes the chance to continue learning – and using her entrepreneurial skills to adapt to the rapidly changing business climate – as the CEO of 3DS.
“Her fluidity and flexibility will keep 3DS relevant in an ever-changing world,” Keen says.
She says her career with 3DS doesn’t feel like work, because it aligns perfectly with her desire to make an impact globally.
“Every hour I spend working, I’m also playing, in my own special over-achieving way,” she says with a laugh.