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Early Success: 7 Entrepreneurs Who Got Rich During or After College

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Not all entrepreneurs wait until they have years of experience to start out on their own. Many have the confidence in their abilities and ideas to get an early start. The seven entrepreneurs below did just that. They either dropped out of school and found success quickly, or did so shortly after graduation.

1. Matt Mullenweg – WordPress

In 2003 Matt Mullenweg was a 19 year old freshman at the University of Houston. This was also the year he co founded WordPress. He’s also the cofounder of the Global Multimedia Protocols Group. That’s only the beginning. He also spent time at C-Net.

Thanks to these and other ventures, Mullenweg is now worth over 40 million dollars. He supports several charitable foundations including The Innocence Project and efforts to provide clean and safe drinking water to emerging nations.

2. Jen Rubio And Steph Korey – Away

Steph Korey was busy working on her advanced degree at Columbia university when her friend Jen Rubio approached her with an idea for a travel business. Rubio had been traveling when her suitcase failed in the middle of a Zurich airport. She reached out to friends via social media for recommendations on replacements. What she found was that nobody really had any. Apparently there simply weren’t suitcases that millennials found to be functional and affordable.

Jen got Steph on board and they launched Away, a luggage company dedicated to selling suitcases and other items directly to consumers. Since it was formed in 2015, they’ve raised 31 million dollars in capital and hired 66 employees. According to Rubio, “We were very lucky. My background is in branding and creative. Steph’s background is in product and supply chain and operations. Between us, we had a lot of things covered. We didn’t have to go outside for a lot of those things for a long time.”

3. Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook

Likely the most well known name on this list, Zuckerberg is still worth mentioning as an example of someone who decided to stop procrastinating and pursue their goals. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook in 2004 while he was a student at Harvard. He and his friends created the social media platform to help other Harvard students connect with one another. Then, they began distributing the platform to other colleges and universities.

Zuckerberg left Harvard as a sophomore to continue building his enterprise. By the time he was 22, he became a millionaire. Since then, in spite of having many challengers, Facebook remains the premier social media platform. That, along with other platforms also owned by Facebook, including Instagram, show no sign of slowed growth.

 “Don’t let anyone tell you to change who you are.” – Mark Zuckerberg

4. Isa Watson – Envested

Isa Watson was working at Pfizer and well-entrenched in an MBA program at MIT Sloan when her father was tragically killed in a car accident. When she returned to her home city of Chapel Hill, her life began to take a definitive turn. Instead of following her dreams to head to Silicon Valley, she decided to stay in Chapel Hill and start a business with the goal of getting millennials to invest in local charitable initiatives.

To accomplish her goal, Watson along with other collaborators created Envested. This is, in essence a platform for local charities. Not for profits post profiles,  hold fundraising challenges, and tell their stories. At the same time, givers can sign up, learn more about local charities, and donate. Envested has even gamified charitable giving a bit with friends being able to see what one another is donating. Envested has raised 760K in funding.

5. Kyle Smitley – Barley And Birch

Kyle Smitley founded Barley and Birch in 2008. By 2009, the company had $400K in projected revenue. Her business, which produces an organic clothing line for children, quickly became popular with celebrities. In fact, both Jessica Alba and Sheryl Crow dressed their children in Barley And Birch. In addition to earning a sizeable profit early on, Smitley also committed to charitable giving.

After covering payroll and paying down a business loan, over half of Barley And Birch’s profits went to charity. What may be most impressive of all is that she launched this successful clothing company while she was a full time law student.

6. Lisa Q Fetterman – Nomiku

Fetterman graduated from journalism school at NYU, and immediately started a series of jobs in fine dining restaurants. She also worked as a journalist for several publications. However, it was a trend she witnessed in fine dining that would inspire her to start her own business. Fetterman noticed that several restaurants were using sous vide, a technique involving cooking meat and vegetables in a relatively low temperature water bath while vacuum sealed with herbs and marinades. Customers loved the result.

She and her future husband built a home sous vide unit on their first date. Then, they began assembling DIY kits for friends. This eventually grew into a business. Lisa Fetterman was only 26 when her business launched. Eventually, they raised $600K to launch Nomiku. The company now produces smart units that can be monitored and controlled via app. Their venture was also funded even further when Fetterman made an appearance on the show ‘Shark Tank’.

“When you’re ready to quit, you are closer than you think.” – Bob Parsons

7. Ryan Williams – Cadre

Williams entrepreneurial drive became clear when he was still a student at Harvard. There, he created technology that could track foreclosures. He and other students then used the information they mined to purchase and flip homes. After graduation, he spent time at Goldman Sachs then Blackstone. However, by the time  he was 26 he was ready to strike out on his own again. This time he founded Cadre. This is a platform that allows buyers and sellers to trade in nontraditional assets like they would stocks. He believes that this will create accessibility in areas such as real estate, oil, and energy where it did not previously exist. Currently, real estate is the primary focus of Cadre. Ryan William’s firm has currently earned north of $68 million in funding.

Conclusion

There are so many business ideas that started in college dorm rooms, or emerged shortly after. The entrepreneurs listed here are just a few examples of young people having great ideas and then putting those ideas into action. There are so many more, especially considering that a young entrepreneur can be successful without creating six or seven figures worth of revenue.

What did you learn from the stories of these entrepreneurs? Comment below!

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Igor Smirnov

    Mar 7, 2018 at 4:55 am

    Great Article. Article has inspired me.

  2. Amir Ayaz

    Feb 24, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    Great Article…

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Entrepreneurs

What if Elon Musk Ran Your Business? 4 Lessons From the Real Life Iron Man

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The story of Iron man and Elon Musk starts when Robert Downey Jr. visited SpaceX headquarters miles away from the setting of the first Iron Man movie back in 2007. The actor was inspired to base his character on Elon Musk’s personality. Ashlee Vance writes in Elon’s biographyboth Musk and Stark were the type of men, according to Downey, who ‘had seized an idea to live by and something to dedicate themselves to’ and were not going to waste a moment.” (more…)

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5 Ways to Prepare for Your Entrepreneurial Journey

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There are many ways to get ready for entrepreneurship regardless of whether you’re ready or not. The migration to the unknown will take you through many places, emotions, and people. Your journey will be both easy and difficult, but hopefully in between, you prepare yourself with an expectation of helping people by solving problems. The quest that you are about to enter will be one to remember if you are willing to adapt quickly and not give up.

Arranging for this huge change in your life should be one of the most memorable expeditions that you will ever experience. Looking into the future and being able to lay out a road map for your entrepreneurial journey will definitely be beneficial. Though there will be challenges every step of the way, being prepared will help you achieve your goals more efficiently.

To help you get started, here are 5 ways to plan an entrepreneurial expedition:

1. Form Ideas By Visualizing And Writing Them Down

Before beginning your entrepreneurial quest, brainstorm to come up with many amazing ideas even if you never act upon each of them. It’s always a good thing to write them down on paper, computer or via a mobile device app such as Google Docs. An abundance of suggestions about your processes is better than none or even a few objectives that can possibly help in some way.

The key is to breakdown those ideas to come up with better solutions to move forward in your voyage. See what’s more in line with your mission and values to be effective for your core audience, products or services that you may want to create. Whether you categorize those ideas or check them off one by one, coming up with different concepts will be a great start to your journey.

“Creativity is contagious – pass it on.” – Albert Einstein

2. Begin A Pattern Of Consistency By Quitting Bad Habits

Repetitive actions can present their challenges but if there’s a way to make progress and eliminate bad habits that aren’t hindering your itinerary then keep doing them. Have you ever noticed that negative thoughts, lack of confidence, and no exercise regimen could negate persistence of not only your entrepreneurial journey but other goals as well?

Get your mojo or swagger back by committing to a life of constant and everlasting consistency by stopping eating bad foods, wasting your time with hours of playing video games, watching television and other things that will stall your progress. When you get rid of actions that are slowing down aspects of your life, you’ll begin to pursuing things to help you lay the groundwork for success.

3. Be Disciplined While Listening More

Another way to prepare for your entrepreneurial journey is by being in control of yourself while paying more attention to everything else. It’s quite common to focus on things outside of your realm and instantly become something other than what you see fit. Difficulties can arise if your focal point isn’t there and somehow an opportunity pass right by you.

Mentorship even from a distance from someone that you don’t know can be a key element as you learn the importance of your mission. Listening to podcasts and watching YouTube videos of someone that has validated your idea is a great starting point as well. Mimicking them on some level can help you understand different phases that are ahead and how to deal with them.

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” – Henry Ford

4. Work Effortlessly And Prioritize Your Time

You will have to work extremely hard with an emphasis on actual time value before pursuing your pilgrimage. We often hear about the results of hard work and it sounds cliche but when many other things are happening outside of your control, finding a way to manage your time can become difficult.

Most people will start off alone with zero help in terms of having a partner and putting in 100% effort. You will likely wear multiple hats as the visionary, programmer, marketer, content creator and so on. You may have to function with only 3 or 4 hours of sleep or even none at times while being respectful and cognitive of the time of others as well.

5. Persist Like There’s No Tomorrow While Planning For The Future

What’s in you? Nobody knows the answer to that question but you and the determination for reaching your destination as an entrepreneur. Whatever the answer is, you should be driven with an undaunted passion to pursue your expedition. Go after your dreams with a tenacity that you didn’t know was within your soul and keep pushing no matter what.

Be mindful that your strong pursuit can be done all while determining the proper destination of where you want to eventually end up. Never lose your focus admist numerous distractions that will happen. The emphasis comes from experience along with talking to other entrepreneurs who had similar occurrences at multiple stages of the process.

Put in the work early with the mindset of expecting obstacles and pushing forward pass them.  It will be tedious and preparing for a grind will make your entrepreneurial journey more understandable through tough times. You will be a lot wiser and better after all of the hard work whether it’s considered a failure or success.

Which one of the above 5 ways to prepare for your entrepreneurial journey resonated most with you and why? Share your thoughts below!

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7 Things You Need to Do to Grow as an Entrepreneur

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Startups are on the rise and youngsters are keen to launch their own business instead of a nine-to-five job. As simple as it sounds, opening a business needs patience and the right planning. Moreover, the profits gained can help you meet your financial obligations and realize other dreams.

Young entrepreneurs must learn the skills of investing money within the right channels as most startups fail because of a shortage of funds. Every entrepreneur has a chance to innovate, create new jobs and have an influence on society. It’s our responsibility to continually grow and push forward, usually beyond our comfort zones.

Here are the seven must-learn tips to grow as an entrepreneur:

1. Read Books and Articles

For many new entrepreneurs, your first mentors are usually found in the pages of books and blogs. Much often learned from the writings of others, and fortunately these days, people are sharing their experiences. A survey found that 88% of the world’s wealthiest people read for a minimum of 30 minutes daily. By comparison, only 2% of the overall population reads this much daily.

Read chapters in books, and articles to get new ideas and skills. Some ideas might not be directly relevant to what you’re doing these days however, it could come helpful a year or so down the road.

My advice is to search out those leaders and writers who resonate with you. You’ll understand when you’ve hit on something when you find yourself returning to a book for answers and inspiration time and time again.

“Books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” – Plato

2. Perform SWOT Analysis

Business students and old-school marketers should be very aware of mapping out SWOT Analysis charts (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). If you’ve never made a SWOT chart, write out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in four quadrants on a piece of paper.

In reality, you’ll jot down a couple of notes on the back of a cocktail napkin, however despite the simplicity, if done right, a SWOT will shed light on crucial areas that require improvement. Most significantly, don’t shy away from the truth. Dissecting your weaknesses isn’t fun however, no good comes from avoiding the fact.

3. Be Willing to Take Risks

It’s impossible to become an entrepreneur if you don’t take risks. Doesn’t matter how many times you’ve fallen. See how many times you stand-up. Being an Entrepreneur isn’t that easy; it’s an up-and-down game like a business. Be willing to come up with new plans even when old strategies are working. It’s through such risks that your business will grow. You’ll learn and meet new partners or investors. Even so, the risks must be calculated. Doing the analysis and making consultations is vital in this case.

4. Open Your Eyes Wide

Many opportunities are arising in the business world every day. For instance, many companies are willing to come up with a mobile solution for a startup without charging immoderate prices. This info can only be discovered if you’re keen.

Before dismissing adverts from websites and mainstream media, conclude if they’re relevant to your business. Also, follow the events happening in the stock market and international business summits. You’ll find the opportunities which will take your business to a new level.

Becoming successful as an entrepreneur is possible if you learn, take risks, evolve, innovate, and stay motivated. You must be realistic regarding your abilities and watch the events that unfold in your world.

5. Lead the Way for Your Team

Young entrepreneurs need to encourage employees and provide help at every juncture. For any young entrepreneur who aspires to be a leader it’s necessary to be:

  • Honest
  • Ambitious
  • Courage and Risk Taking
  • Dedicated
  • A Team-player
  • An effective listener
  • An effective communicator
  • Able to inspire confidence
  • Positive

An entrepreneur who has all the attributes of a leader leads the employees to productivity. It’s essential that the team respects a leader. The hunger and aspirations of the leader to strive for success inspire the employees to put in that extra effort to be successful.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell

6. Learn How to Keep Initial Success at Bay

Do not enjoy the shrubs of initial success for too long. Return to the drawing board and draw the future course of action. To move on to the next phase:

  • Utilize local and online channels to make hype for the services
  • Start expanding by hiring employees to enhance productivity
  • Cater to a good segment of the audience by providing various services
  • Re-invest the profitable revenue into new business efforts

Never let the initial success get to your head. The online platform is an ever-changing arena. Analyze what’s working and what new tactics can be utilized to strengthen the market base.

7. Find and Keep Business Partners

You will always go far if you have people to carry your hand during hardship in business. They’ll share ideas that have made them successful and provides you funds whenever necessary. Demonstrating that you are organized, capable, and serious is vital when nurturing such relationships. Keeping records, creating financial contributions to society, and attending forums are some of the choices worth trying.

Being an entrepreneur isn’t as easy as it looks. You’ll face many up-and-downs, risks, financial crisis, and many more. Be ready to face these problems if you want to be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship isn’t about making money, it’s about innovating new things and represent new concepts and ideas to the world.

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Transitioning From Employee to Entrepreneur? Try Intrapreneurship First

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Studies show that 15 million Americans are self-employed full-time and that an estimated 27 million Americans will transition from the traditional workforce to full-time entrepreneurship by 2020. Additionally, it is asserted that entrepreneurs are 125% more successful if they have previously been employed in the industry in which they presently do business. This is all great news on many levels.

Chances are, if you are reading this article, you are considering transitioning from employee to entrepreneur, or perhaps you have already made the shift. I get it. I am one of the millions who has made the switch – trading stability and comfort for passion and freedom. However, if you are a potential full-time entrepreneur, there are many things to consider before making the leap.

How will I support myself and my family in the initial stages of development? What do I do if I fail? How do I maintain the drive needed to make a business successful? How will my business harness the creativity and innovation required to thrive in the marketplace? These are all valid questions and should be considered deeply.

If only there were a training ground to test your management capabilities, gain knowledge, think innovatively and be solution-focused. But, wait, there is. Your current employment can offer these opportunities and more – through intrapreneurship.

By definition, an intrapreneur is an employee of a company who has adopted an entrepreneurial mindset. Intrapreneurs are highly motivated self-starters and innovative, solution-driven thought leaders, who work within an organization. Because of this definition, acting in an intrapreneurial capacity in your current place of employment makes a great deal of sense when considering the move to self-employment. You can use your current employment status as a testing ground for where you want to be.

Here are four reasons why intrapreneurship can work for you:

1. See a problem. Solve a problem

All businesses should be designed to fulfill a need. Just as your own business should be able to justify its existence in the marketplace, initiatives within an organization should do the same. Closely examine processes and products in your place of employment. Determine what could be executed more productively. Alternatively, design a new initiative to creatively meet and exceed customer expectations. Acting in this manner will prepare you for building the structure and mission of your own business.

2. Creatively capitalize on skills and talents gained outside your employer

In many instances, we separate business from personal, and there are many good reasons for this approach. However, there are notable skills and talents used in your personal life that are transferable to the workplace. For example, if you engage in team sports, use your team building skills and charisma to involve your colleagues in projects.

If you love to read fiction books, integrate the creativity of the stories to bend the thinking of traditional methods of operation. The possibilities are many. Business owners rely on all life experiences, directly or tangentially related, for the benefit of their enterprises.

3. Intrapreneurship is for all employment levels

If you think intrapreneurship is only for c-suite executives, think again. Intrapreneurship is for the mailroom to the boardroom. As noted in the definition, intrapreneurship is about being a self-starter. You do not need permission from anyone to be highly motivated. Just as all parts of our bodies have a function, so do all positions in an organization. Even if you feel your position has no purpose in your organization, make one. We all have to start somewhere in our entrepreneurial journeys, so start right now, where you are.

4. Experiencing failure is inevitable. Move forward anyway.

All of us will experience failure at some point and multiple times as well. Failure will happen regardless if you remain employed or set out on our own. Be bold enough to move forward with establishing your voice and your place anyway. Business and life are about forward movement. Decide now what next step you will take if you fail. There is always a path forward. Get used to the possibility of your ideas being rejected and your designs being flawed now, so when you are a full-time entrepreneur, you will know how to advance.

Whether you are at the infancy stages of developing your own business, currently self-employed or even wish to remain an employee, establishing yourself as an initiator and innovator can reap many benefits for you and your company. That is the beauty of it.

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