Derek Hopper joins Team Tout

Hey guys and gals. I’m Derek and I just joined Tout. I love it. Here’s how it happened.

While working at OnStar, Tawheed and I had the chance to work together on a great project finally presented at CES 2011. Through a couple of Las Vegas dinners, I had the privilege of being influenced by a great entrepreneur. We talked of his past, timeless articles I should be reading, and my plans for the future. The epiphany I had that week was profound. I never imagined my desire was matched with such an amazing community. The startup world was definitely for me.
None of this would be possible without a mutual friend, Andrew. I’ve always made it a priority to thank people that have helped me along the way, and I’m not stopping now. Andrew was instrumental in my mental transformation spanning the last six months. Without him, the timespan of realizing my complete potential would have likely taken much longer.

I’ve always been a hacker. While at Purdue, I’d often spend more time on side projects than my assigned homework. Sure, my grades suffered a bit, but my brain was always consuming and learning. Curiously, this usually happened when a class was more theory and less project oriented. Looking back, I dominated anything project oriented and often found myself working harder than my peers with better grades. More importantly, I was equipped with skills that school never taught.

When Tawheed and I planned to talk on Skype on April 16, I had no idea the events that would unfold – events that were bound to evolve my life and further my career.

Tawheed approached me about joining Tout on a normal Saturday, April 16. We talked about what we’ve been working on, his position on Tout, and my plans for the next few months. About halfway through our conversation, I had a hunch the call was Tawheed’s version of an interview and the rest is history.

The next week was tough. I was making mental preparations to tell my boss at the time. I knew what I had to do, and I was committed to my decision, but the emotions were overwhelming at times. I loved what I was working on at OnStar, but I knew I wanted to join someone like Tawheed and build a company.

Over the next few weeks, Tawheed and I made sure to keep in touch. I knew most of the important details about Tout, our funding round, 500 startups, and Tawheed’s amazing living situation his first week in California. Evidently, big dogs don’t like brown people – his words, not mine. All of this only exciting me even more for my inevitable trip to join him.

Throughout my life, I’ve coveted change. Every major change in my life was proved for the better. It’s a great streak to keep alive. It’s important to be careful of change, but embrace it. Changes force you to grow in extraordinary ways. Always step out of your comfort zone. It’s the only way you’ll know.

Now, it’s June 8, and I just flew into San Francisco, living in Mountain View. An office at 500 Startups is part of my daily routine. A new opportunity. A new experience. I don’t know what lies ahead. And that’s a great thing.