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5 Minutes with Elizabeth Chabe, Co-founder of High Touch Courses

Posted on 07 Jan 2015 in entrepreneur, interview | 0 comments

Elizabeth started her first company at 9, her second at 11, and her third at 12. She started college at 14. After earning her MBA and MS (while working full-time), she traveled the world interning & learning 5 languages. She helped grow UMaine’s research programs, co-authoring $40M in successful proposals for offshore wind, defense, & civil infrastructure R&D. In 2014, she co-founded High Touch Courses with long-time colleagues, Jeff Prymowicz and Kip Palmer.

Portland Maine Entrepreneur Elizabeth Chabe

1. What are you hoping to achieve through the Top Gun program?

I like stepping away from developing my product and talking with other entrepreneurs about their process. Maybe I can help them. Maybe they will return the favor.

2. What’s the biggest thing you struggle with as an entrepreneur?

Paying my bills.

3. In the beginning, what motivated you to become an entrepreneur? Tell me about your first entrepreneurial experience as a kid.

This is a good question. I don’t think I have a first entrepreneurial experience. It’s always been who I am — embedded in my DNA. Whether it was starting my first business at 9 (it failed), faxing a press release to local media stations about my band’s concert in a friend’s yard when I was 10 (they showed), or hacking my education by dropping out of high school and starting college early, I’ve always approached life on my own terms.

Or, more accurately, I execute on my ideas instead of staying within my comfort zone. To me, that is the essence of entrepreneurship: approaching life on your own terms and working at being happy every day. Why delay satisfaction in life? Why not be happy right now?

I made the decision early on to refuse delaying satisfaction in life in order to have a steady income, the white picket fence, and a corner office. Everything we do from birth to adulthood steers us down career paths and into our own personal prisons. I’ve never wanted to live like that. Every time I find myself on that path, which happens from time to time, it feels wrong and I suffer for it. I’m not wired for that life.

My partners have the same mindset. We all left very comfortable jobs to launch our own products because it makes us happy.

That’s what first motivated me and continues to — pursuing happiness right now and not delaying it until tomorrow.

4. If you could sit down for coffee with anyone to discuss your business, who would it be and why?

That’s a long list, so instead I’ll change the frame. Rather than coffee, I’d invite my guests to my 30th birthday party, preferably on James Altucher’s yacht. Guests would include my husband and business partners, of course, along with James Altucher (since we are borrowing his yacht), Tim Ferriss, Neil Strauss, Kevin Kelly, Jack Kerouac, Ernest Hemingway, Leonardo DiCaprio, my best friend, Clark Gable, Mindy Kaling, a mentor or two, some friends from other startups, and my late brother. The Pixies (circa 1995), George Watsky, and Justin Timberlake (don’t judge) would provide entertainment. Who ever manages Claire Underwood’s wardrobe would design my outfit. We wouldn’t drink coffee, business would most definitely be a topic of conversation, and we’d break into a new pack of Cards Against Humanity at some point.

About High Touch Courses:

High Touch Courses is an online course system that utilizes gamification and provides on-demand education for the price of a Netflix subscription. It aims to disrupt the traditional four-year degree system for certain areas of study (e.g., computer science, video game development, etc.), helping solve the student debt crisis and create more talented, technically-trained citizens to enter the workforce. High Touch Courses is a Global Entrepreneurship Week’s Top 50 Finalist and was named by CNBC as “One of the Hottest Startups of 2014”.

Every few weeks Laurie Johnson of Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development (MCED) interviews a local entrepreneur about his or her startup and path and experience as an entrepreneur. Visit mced.biz to learn more about the organization’s support services for entrepreneurs.

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