TILE: The World’s Largest Conversation Series
In 2015, 15-year-old Michael Ioffe ’21 was a student at Lincoln High School in Portland, Oregon. He was inspired by the power of conversation and started a monthly fireside chat between himself and local business leaders in the basement of a local theatre company. This is where TILE (Talks on Innovation, Leadership, and Entrepreneurship) was created.
TILE is now working with over 750 students in over 250 locations and 41 countries to organize free, live, and accessible conversation series that bring together local teens and a notable guest for monthly, hour-long discussions. The entire TILE team is comprised of Babson first year students.
The inspiration for TILE was all around access. “If you’re a typical student from the Bronx, Karachi, or Portland, you have no way to engage in live conversations with your idols,” says Ioffe. “There is no venue to hear their stories, ask burning questions, understand their perspectives, and learn from their experiences.” TILE was created to fill this void.
For the students that need to hear them most, many of these conversations with great innovators, leaders and entrepreneurs are too expensive, too selective or are simply nonexistent.
“Growing up in Portland, Oregon I realized the gap between underserved local students and the luminaries they look up to. I realized that creating a space where these two disparate groups could come together was extremely important,” says Ioffe.
Ioffe found an opportunity in local theatres that are always empty on Mondays, when the theatre is dark. That is where the first TILE conversation was born.
The TILE Platform™ is an online resource guide featuring guidelines, case studies, directories, and templates for all students that want to bring TILE to their communities. This allows TILE to scale everywhere there is internet access and it takes five minutes or less for a student TITLE chapter organizer to set up.
“By putting teenagers in the driver’s seat, we can operate with minimal overhead while hosting high-quality events,” says Ioffe.
Guests at TILE events have included CEOS, social justice advocates, startup founders, authors, and even Olympic gold medalists. By the end of 2018, over one million students will have attended a TILE talk.
“TILE is built on the belief that the best way to create a generation of creators, doers, and thinkers is to give students access to the leading creators, doers, and thinkers of today,” says Ioffe. “We are facilitating the exchange of ideas, advice, and insights from one generation of changemakers to the next.”
TILE aims to be both the defining inspiration and voice for Generation Z.
The TILE Impact
TILE has impacted the lives of thousands of students, but one in particular had a life changing experience because of TILE.
In September 2017, Mohammed Al-Adlani, a TILE chapter leader in Yemen, leveraged his work with TILE to receive a full scholarship to American University in Beirut and escape the war zone in Sana’a. Mohammed’s story is just one example of the impact that TILE has had in communities around the world.
Through working with TILE, TILE chapter leaders have received internships, mentorships and meaningful connections that have changed their lives for the better.
“In just one year, TILE has grown from one location in Portland, Oregon to 215 locations on six continents,” says Ioffe. “Our exclusively-live events reach thousands of students monthly, and over six hundred students (TILE chapter organizers) currently use TILE as a leadership development platform.”
TILE is now headquartered at Babson College, and the TILE team is made up entirely of Babson first-year students.
TILE is supported by an incredibly impressive board of directors. Members include: Chris DeWolfe (cofounder and CEO of MySpace, cofounder and CEO of Jam City), Lara Stein (founder of TEDx), Brett Schilke (Director of Impact at Singularity University), Craig Masback (former CEO of USA Track and Field), Lauren Rinkey (Director of Global Experiences, Nike), Jodi Walder-Biesanz (Independent College Counselor), Peyton Chapman (Board of Directors at NASSP).
TILE is made possible by the support of the We Are Family Foundation, The Diller Family Foundation, Jam City, and Google.