With age comes wisdom, but sometimes young ambition can also breed success. In fact some of our best and brightest young entrepreneurs have been making waves starting a business before even graduating college. These people are proof that a lack of experience shouldn’t hold anyone back from being an entrepreneur. With hard work, smart ideas and strong determination, anyone can take their business dream and turn it into a reality. Juggling class loads while trying to keep good grades is enough of a struggle for most young entrepreneurs.
These are five people who found success starting a business while they were still in college.
1. Mark Zuckerberg
In 2002 Mark Zuckerberg began his enrollment at Harvard University. By 2008 Zuckerberg was already the youngest billionaire in the world. Between those few years Mark Zuckerberg became a household name when he developed Facebook, which currently has over 800 million users. The story behind the young entrepreneur even inspired an award winning film, The Social Network. The movie told an exaggerated and dramatized account of Zuckerberg’s rise to success. Zuckerberg’s real life story is also an exaggerated tale of success, but only because Zuckerberg and the other founding members worked so hard to make Facebook successful. Not everyone can be as successful as Mark Zuckerberg, but it never hurts to try!
2. Larry Page and Sergey Brin
Larry Page and Sergey Brin may be slightly less well-known than Mark Zuckerberg, but their company is perhaps the biggest name on the internet: Google. Page and Brin began work on Google as a research project while the two young entrepreneurs were enrolled at Stanford University. Seeking to improve on existing search engine technology, the pair more than succeeded in their goal. Today Google is a multinational corporation with numerous research developments. If you were to ask Brin or Page the secret to their success, they might just tell you “don’t be evil”.
3. Paul Orfalea
Not every successful college startup began on the internet. Paul Orfalea founded Kinko’s in 1970, naming the company after his college nickname “Kinko”. Following a large merger with FedEx, the companies were rebranded to FedEx Kinko’s before turning simply to FedEx. Orfalea faced a tough legal struggle when he finally left the company, but now enjoys a comfortable life as a visiting professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Orfalea realized his dream in college and is now helping future young entrepreneurs follow their own dreams.
4. Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman
The most recent entries to this list, Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman are young entrepreneurs who developed the website Reddit while studying together at the University of Virginia in 2005. Reddit has since provided a platform for millions of users to share ideas and multimedia on a global platform. Still growing fast, Reddit has emerged as one of the internet’s most visited sites. Not bad for a company that still only has only ten official employees.
5. Bill Gates
Perhaps the most famous example of a successful young entrepreneur, Bill Gates started his Microsoft juggernaut from inside a garage while studying at Harvard. Gates went on to become the richest man in the world. Today Gates spends most of his time running the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Here Gates uses his vast wealth on massive charity ventures across the world. For all his success, Bill Gates is rightfully thought of as the best example of successful young entrepreneurs who started in college.
The next big business ideas are probably growing on college campuses around the world right now. All young entrepreneurs think they have the best ideas for their new businesses. Combined with the right amount of youthful ambition, sometimes they really do have the right stuff for starting a business. Taking risks is just part of being young and reckless and important for being an entrepreneur. After all, it’s hard starting a business revolution by just playing it safe.