10 Of The Most Successful Entrepreneurs Under 30 And How They Made Their Fortune
Entrepreneurs have shaped the global economy in the last century, they have not only controlled and effectively utilized the actors of production, but they have also been able to transform the world to how it is today. We do not have to go too far back in history to see how entrepreneurs have changed the world. We can start with how Steve Jobs and Bill gates were the first of their generation to be the heartthrob entrepreneurs who built up billion-dollar empires while still in their youth. Their success motivated countless other entrepreneurs to this day to try their luck and manifest their ideas into reality.
In this article, we shall look at 10 of the most successful and also some upcoming entrepreneurs under 30 years of age who have made it big or are trying to make it big.
1. Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook
- Zuckerberg Net Worth: $86 billion
- Facebook Net worth: Above $130 billion
Although he is no longer under 30, he was when Facebook crossed that critical mass that led to its stellar success. Very few have been able to achieve what Zuckerberg did and although later on there came a lot of complexities into the idea but if we simplify and strip it down to the bare basics then we can see that Zuckerberg started with an idea, that no one knew they even wanted.
This is how the journey starts for almost every startup, talk to any startup guru and they will tell you to come up with the idea that people do not even know they need and then create its demand. Before Facebook, social media was still in its infancy. Still, no one felt the need for having a social media platform and over a decade later here we are today with Facebook as an integral part of our personal and professional lives.
So his basic idea was simple, he created a social media platform that was used on campus, and as the idea caught on, possibilities of more and more funding just kept on increasing, and today Facebook is the leading tech giant and rest is history.
2. Catherine and Dave Cook: Creator of MyYearBook.com
- Catherine Cook Net worth: $30 million
- “Meet”/MyYearBook Net Worth: $450 million
Catherine and Dave Cook were two sibling sin a new high school, going through a yearbook to see if they recognized anyone, the information in the yearbook was so useless that they decided to digitize it and make a digital yearbook that could actually be of some use for the people. So they ended up making MyYearBook.com while still in high school.
By the age of 17, Catherine was speaking at tech startup conferences where entrepreneurs like and including Zuckerberg were in attendance. By 2010, the site was churning over $20 million in revenue, but they faced a crisis because they did not want their site to compete with Facebook. They wanted it to focus on yearbooks and helping people find their friends and acquaintances.
In 2011, the site was approached by a South American company named “Quepasa” with a bid for merger worth $100 million, which would introduce the site to South America as well. This is what Catherine and Dave had wanted, global recognition, and now they were getting it. They recently changed the name of their site to “Meet”, to cater for a global audience as the concept of yearbooks is limited to North America.
This is the story of how two siblings who were high school students, managed to create a business out of an idea that people did not even know they needed. It took them a lot of hard work and sacrifices. Catherine Cook says that her grades suffered and she basically had no social life growing up, but she doesn’t regret it because she was using this time to address tech and startup conferences across the world and build up a business that she had created out of an idea.
3. Mathew Mullenweg – WordPress
- Mathew Mullenweg Net worth: $400 million
- Automattic/Wordpress Networth : $1.16 billion
Not many know him by his name today, but they know him by his creation that is WordPress. Mullenweg was educated in performing and visual arts. When he was 19, he started WordPress with Mike Little. Over the years he created many products like “Ping O Matic”, that automatically informed search engines whenever there was an update on a blog. He worked for CNET for a while and then left it in 2005 to focus on WordPress.
WordPress is his brainchild that went on to redefine blogging for countless individuals. Although the story o Mullenweg is not that of struggle it shows that if you have got an idea that can click instantly, then you can build it into a billion-dollar company that can change the world.
4. Ben Silbermann – Pinterest
- Ben Silbermann Net Worth: $1.5 billion
- Pinterest Net Worth: $12.3 billion
Ben Silbermann graduated with a degree in political science, and this is all that you need to know about entrepreneurship, you don’t necessarily have to be an MBA to become an entrepreneur. All you need is a good workable idea and then the resources to turn that idea into a product or a service.
Ben used to work in Google, he left the company to make iOS apps with his friend, but their initial apps failed to gain any traction. Ben then had the idea to set up Pinterest; the idea came from his childhood hobby of being a collector. He realized that back in 2010, there was no site or social media platforms that could help people showcase their collections and hence, the idea of Pinterest was born.
The company was set up in 2010, and in 2019 it had its IPO for an unbelievable $12 billion. Once again the story of Ben Silbermann shows that if you have got an innovative idea, the market will respond positively to it
5. Kelly Peeler – Next Gen Vest
- Next-Gen Vest Net Worth: $780 million
Kelly Peeler worked at JP Morgan in the investment division of the Wall Street bank; she then moved on to the asset management division of the bank where she had to work with clients who were interesting in shorting the student debts market. This was the time after the 2008 crisis, where financial analysts and investors had realized just how rigged the financial markets were and therefore everyone was trying to do what the movie :The Big Short” had basically explained, trying to find the next big financial fraud.
Kelly Peeler realized that a lot of investors and clients were interesting in shorting the student debt market and this is how she realized that the next financial crisis might be centred around the student debt market.
This gave her an idea to set up a financial advice company named “Next Gen Vest” with the primary goal of providing assistance and advice to students looking for financial aid. She left her promising career as an investment banker and set up her own company, the company mainly communicates to the students via text message late at night, that’s when most students are actively looking for best options available for them for financial aid.
Customers can contact the company at any time; the company uses machine learning to come up with the best possible options for the customers. According to Next Gen Vest, their customers have saved over $39 million to date through their advisory service.
For some, the journey to becoming an entrepreneur doesn’t start by skipping school or dropping out of college, entrepreneurs like Kelly Peeler take the longer route of gaining market experience and then putting that into use.
6. Daniel Ek – Spotify
- Daniel Ek Net Worth: $4.5 billion
- Spotify Net Worth: Close to $21 billion
It won’t be wrong to call Daniel Ek a childhood prodigy. He started earning money at the age of 13 when he first made a business website for $100, he made his second site for $200 and eventually raised his prices to $5000. By the age of 15 he was making so much money that he hired web developers to work for him. By the age o 26 Ek had made enough money for himself that he decided to retire.
He didn’t have the idea for creating Spotify till Napster was shut down in 2002, this event compelled Daniel Ek to think about music streaming. He identified piracy as a problem, but at that time, there was no real way to beat around it. Daniel Ek realized that the legislation would not be a solution to stop music piracy. Therefore he got the idea of setting up Spotify a music streaming site that brought the artists in the loop as well, thereby setting up a mechanism to compensate them and allowing for music downloads. Spotify was set up in 2006, and in the last 14 years, the company has accumulated approximately 300 million active users and is the leading music streaming service.
Ek’s arch is one that can be followed today by early starters, but then it may not work out for everyone. Kids these days, however, have got so many avenues to start early than what Ek had in his day, so his story can be an inspiration for the next childhood prodigy.
7. Lu Zhang – Fusion Fund
Lu Zhang is a young entrepreneur who climbed the ladders of success with sheer hard work and talent. She began her career as a regional manager and then set up her own company named Acetone Inc, and the company developed early diagnosis devices for Type II diabetes. Zhang sold her company for $10 million before founding her own venture capital fund New Gen Capital in 2015 which was later renamed to Fusion Fund. The fund is aimed at helping startups that can utilize emerging technologies to create products and service that can benefit society. Zhang has a keen eye for innovation and teamwork, and she puts these skills to work at her fund. She was named as the emerging young entrepreneur in 2017 by Forbes.
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8. David Karp – Tumblr
You would think that university education is a prerequisite to becoming a successful entrepreneur. Well, meet David Karp, the founder of Tumblr. Karp dropped out of school at the age of 15 and began homeschooling, in his spare time he took up learning different skills like foreign languages and HTML. His skills landed him his first job as an intern at Frederator Studios.
Karp then moved on to UrbanBaby, an online platform set up to help new parents, Karp had to move to Japan for a few months to work on this project. Eventually, he came back to the USA and set up his own software development company called Davidville. It was here that once during a gap between projects Karp had about setting up a microblogging site.
He got his inspiration from AngelFire and saw that no one was really focusing on Tumblr blogs. He sat on the idea for almost a year before actually working on it with his business partner Marco Arment. They had the first version of Tumblr ready in two weeks, and after rolling it out, within a few days, they crossed about 75000 users on the site. Six years later, in 2013, Tumblr was acquired by Yahoo for $1.1 billion, and Karp chose to remain as a CEO. However since then, the worth of the microblogging site has fallen, and after Karp stepped down as the CEO of Tumblr late in 2017, the site has lost its appeal. Tumblr was recently acquired by Automattic, the owner of WordPress for a mere 2.2 million.
9. Melanie Perkins – Canva
Born in Australia, Melanie Perkins is one of the youngest entrepreneurs to head a billion-dollar company. Yes, that’s right, her journey started back in Australia when she used to sell hand-knitted scarves in shops. She began to teach the design program at the age of 19 to her fellow students and saw how her students struggled to create yearbooks.
This prompted her to create Fusion book, a site where students could create their own yearbooks. This concept blew up in Australia more than Melanie was expecting, and her site became famous even in France and New Zealand.
Using her site as a springboard, Melanie decided to take it to the next level by starting up Canva, which is a free graphic designing website. The site has millions of users, and most of them use it for free, this has allowed Canva to secure a lot of VC funding based on its growing user base. Melanie hopes to take Canva to a level where it can compete with giants like Adobe in graphic designing and Microsoft in making presentations.
Canva is worth over $3 billion, but in terms of ambitions, the company still has a long way to go. Melanie is already a successful entrepreneur and has shown that you don’t need to be in the Silicon Valley to create a billion-dollar unicorn, this can be done from Sydney as well.
10. Drew Houston – DropBox
- Drew Houston Net Worth: $1.7 billion
- Dropbox Net Worth: Over $12 billion
To be fair, Dropbox needs a whole article on its own, that’s how interesting its startup story is but then most of the companies we have discussed in this article merit an article of their own.
Houston worked on six different ideas, but they didn’t work out, the idea for Dropbox came one day when he was commuting, and he had planned to work on a coding program during the four-hour commute but by a “genius stroke of luck,” he forgot his USB at home. With the program at home, he couldn’t get his work done, and he realized that the world needed a way to store files online so that they could be accessed from anywhere anytime.
Jobs invited him to his office and cut straight to the point, Steve jobs offered to purchase Dropbox for a billion dollars and what did Houston do? He refused. Why? Because Houston realized that Jobs had understood the potential of Dropbox, but he wanted cloud storage to be a feature of Apples’ product portfolio and not a product in itself, for Houston “Dropbox” was his own creation and he wanted it to become a product. So he walked away from a billion-dollar sales price to build DropBox up as a successful company. Drew Houston has got a typical entrepreneur trajectory, he completed his degree, tried out different ideas that didn’t work and then stumbled upon an idea that basically revolutionized the tech world.
The lesson here once again is perseverance and innovation. Read up books that build your creativity, learn new skills and surround yourself with people who can lift you up and motivate you. These are the core ingredients that are required if you want to be a successful entrepreneur. On top of this, once you get your idea, keep working on it and give it enough time to mature. Don’t be afraid of experimenting and use trial and error to find out the strategy that works best for you. Do this, and you too can be the next successful entrepreneur if you follow your passion.
Main Image Source : Pixabay
Also See : Coorong National Park – South Australia