Zhang connects with CEOs


Courtesy Courtesy Businesses With Stories Instagram

Junior Joe Zhang works on a new article for his website Business With Stories.

Laura Anderson, Assistant News Editor

After wanting more of a connection with the founders and CEOs of businesses, junior Joe Zhang founded his website, Businesses With Stories, in August of 2017 to learn more about the business and entrepreneurial world.

Over the past year and a half, Zhang and his team of other students have interviewed and published stories about dozens of founders and CEOs. A variety of content has been posted on the site from interviews with founders of big companies like Remind, Ring, 23andMe and Airbnb to an easily digestible business knowledge section that has previously been collected in interviews.

“It’s a way for people to hear more about the stories behind companies,” Zhang said. “Not necessarily what you can read on Business Insider or Forbes, where it’s just describing the company or describing the way the company has become, but more incorporating who the person is and how that person’s experiences helped form the company.”

Growing up, Zhang had always been enamored with business, especially startups and technology. His house had magazines like Forbes all around, and in middle school he read the Steve Jobs biography.

After fueling his interest in the startup culture and tech scene, Zhang took part in the business-related activities offered at Algonquin. However, he was left wanting a more direct experience. Zhang felt that it would be better if he could actually talk to the heads of companies, but he needed a reason.

“I decided to start Businesses With Stories to have a way to connect with these people and talk with them about their businesses, ask them first-hand about their experiences and really try to figure out what those magazines [and] those books aren’t talking about,” Zhang said.

According to Zhang, there were practically no visitors to the website during the first few months, and overall the first year was slow.

Then the next summer Zhang lined up 30 interviews and things started to pick up. He now gets a couple thousand visits on the site each month and many of the articles are top ranked when the founder or company’s name is searched.

At the end of November last year, he assembled a group of high schoolers, juniors Arthur Andreev, Paul Probst, Oscar Hong, Will Hurley and sophomore Andrew Yang, to help contribute to the writing.

“The best thing is learning about new people, learning about different people that are not our age, and [not] in our town and in our state,” Yang said.

To Yang’s surprise, there are advantages to interviewing as a high school student.

“People are more interested to talk to you because you have a different perspective from people they’re used to,” Yang said.

Businesses With Stories has changed Zhang’s perspective on the world of business, but it has only made him want to pursue it even more.

“I just really enjoy it,” Zhang said. “I think it’s a fun time, and it’s really helped me learn more than a lot of stuff in school. It’s been a huge game-changer for me.”