Profiling Our Staff: Andrew Yates, Chief Operating Officer
by Daniela Schwartz
WE'RE TAKING A CLOSER LOOK AT THE INTERESTING LIVES OF OUR STAFF -- WHEN THEY AREN’T WORKING ON MANAGING CALIFORNIA’S FIRST SOCIAL IMPACT INCUBATOR FOR HIGH SCHOOL ENTREPRENEURS.
After an interview with Andrew Yates, we learned about how Elix has impacted his life, as what Yates does outside of Elix.
Tell me a bit about what made you interested in Elix, how did you get involved?
For a long time I’ve been interested in entrepreneurship, actually one of my long term goals is starting at least a small business. I’ve always been interested in taking in things I’m interested about and trying to find a way to make a business out of it. That was before I even heard about Elix, and after I knew Isabella for awhile she mentioned it to me and was wondering if I’d be interested in joining. After I did some research on it, I felt very happy to be invited and I joined.
What does your job as COO entail? How has it impacted you?
I love my role as COO! One of the biggest things I do is planning, and making sure that everything we are doing right now is running smoothly. So, at the moment that entails contracts and a lot of the legal work to make sure that we can run legally.
Did you have any prior knowledge or experience on how to direct a business, or have you learned those skills through Elix?
Some things I did know and others I didn’t. In terms of operations, it’s not so much you read a book and now you know how to do it, it comes with being able to project things and plan things out accordingly. I already had some of the skill sets that allowed me to do what I’m doing now, but then for other things like contracts, I had to learn as I go.
I’ve heard you are somewhat of a quiet guy, have you had to open up as a person to reach out your peers and take on a leadership role?
I would say that I have had to open up more. Prior to Elix, it was just me setting a plan for myself. Now, I need to make sure I’m communicating to all of my staff and with Isabella to know what our goals are and that we are all on the same page.
This is not like any high school club, or teenage experiment, this is a real LLC. What is it like working with peers your own age on such a serious business?
It’s a lot of fun, but very intimidating at times. There’s a lot of hand holding if you do something through school like a club, and there’s not a lot of consequences that you can run into. With Elix, you’re kind of in the dark just trying to figure out what not to run into, and you need to understand what the actual problems are and the things to avoid, especially the legal troubles. It’s a lot to take in and a lot to learn in a quick amount of time, but I think it’s going to be useful and it’s a lot of fun in the process.
Can you tell us a little more about you, the guy behind all the action, and what were you doing before Elix?
I spent a lot of time playing basketball and playing guitar, but I’ve always had a focus on doing something like this—I just didn’t expect it to come in high school. I haven’t had to fully give up the things I did before. Instead, I’ve learned to balance things like music and school with Elix.
What’s something that not many people may know about you?
Well, I really love coffee. I think the first time I drank coffee was when I had to do a standup comedy presentation in my freshman english class. I’m generally a pretty mellow guy and I thought, Okay, if I need the class to laugh, I think I’m going to need a little more energy this morning. It was first period, so I grabbed a big cup of coffee before school and I drank the whole thing. I think it actually helped me get a good grade on that presentation.
What has been one of your biggest challenges this year?
The biggest one has to be time, like finding time to sit down and do nothing. Everything kind of picked up this year with classes and extracurriculars. I took computer programming at College of Marin, and I work at MV Code Club every couple days a week. I do enjoy everything I’m doing, but everyone needs time to sit down and relax.