Age may not at all be a factor if you have a great idea and know how to execute it. Some help from an older brother can also come in handy.
Fifteen year old Catherine Cook and her 16 year old brother David were new to their high school in Skillman, New Jersey. As teenagers, making new friends in a new school was a major undertaking. While looking over their yearbook one night they thought it was not the best way to make new friends.
Then Catherine came up with a great idea, digitalizing yearbooks. This would be an avenue for meeting new friends. It was the start of myYearbook in 2005. While Facebook is more into connecting with old or existing friends, their venture was more into making new friends who were near the area, of the same age bracket or played the same games.
Their older brother Geoff fresh from graduating at Harvard also got into the venture by helping with the start-up capital needed to keep the company going. Six years later, in 2011 the three siblings joined the ranks of young self-made multi-millionaires when Quepasa Corp. bought their company for $100 million in cash and stocks.
One of the strong points of myYearbook is many are using it via the mobile phone. With more mobile phones than personal computers or laptops the market potential is huge.
What started out as a need to make new friends ended up with the siblings creating a great product which has led them to business and financial success.
It seems like no one had to tell Gurbaksh Chahal that the early bird gets the worm. It simply did not apply in the waking up early sense but also starting out early in his entrepreneurial career. He has also been able to achieve success in a very short span of time.
In 1998, at the age of 16, he dropped out of high school and started his first venture, ClickAgents. This was an advertising network using performance-based advertising. In just two years Chahal sold the company to ValueClick for $40 million. He wasn’t even out of his teens yet.
This would have been a great story already but it was just a chapter in Chahal’s young life. In 2004, he started BlueLithium, another advertising company focusing on behavioral targeting of banner advertising. This involved following web users’ online habits so that ads shown to the users are those they will most likely respond to.
In 2007, BlueLithium was bought by Yahoo! for $300 million. Not bad for a 25 year old who only established the company barely three years ago. He then started a company called gWallet which dealt in the digital payment business.
In 2009, he formed his third internet advertising company this time specializing in the new area of real-time advertising. The company was re-branded as RadiumOne in 2010. It has been able to raise a serious amount of money through venture capital funding.
Chahal has appeared in the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2008. He has made other TV appearances. Success has come to him in such a short span of time. He was born on July 17, 1982 in Punjab, India. He was able to migrate to the U.S. when his parents were awarded U.S. visa through what is known as the Green Card Lottery. His parents were of humble means but this did not stop Chahal from achieving success at such an early age.
Both Chahal and America were lucky when his parents won in the Green Card Lottery.
That’s her surname, her father being Peter Fake. Aside from that there’s nothing fake about Caterina Fake. You must have heard of Flickr the photo-sharing website. She is responsible for its creation along with her then husband Steward Butterfield.
It wasn’t a straight forward success story though as the couple’s venture was originally Ludicorp which had as its product a role-playing game known as Game Neverending. Unfortunately the game ended, the company went bankrupt just after one year in 2003.
A portion of this game had a technology with photo-sharing features. They turned this into a website called Flickr which became a hit. So much so that Yahoo! bought it for a reported $35 million in 2005. After the acquisition she joined Yahoo! but resigned in 2008.
Not everyone would start a venture on a hunch but Ms. Fake and a partner did start a venture named Hunch in June 2009. Its goal is to map every user in the internet and connect to every entity and their ties to that entity. The company was certainly more than a hunch since eBay bought it for an estimated $80 million in November 2011.
She’s now into another venture called PinWheel. It’s still very early but she already raised $7.5 million in venture capital. Most of the money is there because of her reputation more than the new product.
Apparently investors genuinely believe in Ms. Fake.
Elon Musk already showed his high intelligence and business acumen at a very early age. At age 10 his father bought him his first computer. He taught himself programming and by age 12 he sold a space game called Blaster.
Born in South Africa on June 28, 1971, he first moved to Canada then made his way to America. He earned an undergraduate degree in economics and another one in physics. He was interested in three areas where he saw important problems: the internet, clean energy, and space.
He moved to California in 1995 to do graduate studies at Stanford, but ended up starting an internet company called Zip2. This company was sold in 1999 for over $340 million mostly in cash and a portion in stock options. He then co-founded X.com in 1999 which eventually acquired another company that had a product known as PayPal. This was sold to eBay for$1.5 billion. He was not the sole owner of these companies but was able to get substantial amounts from their sales. He then formed another company known as Space Exploration Technologies (Space X). This company was awarded a $1.6 billion contract in 2008 by NASA for 12 space flights to the International Space Center as a replacement for the Space Shuttle.
If this wasn’t enough he also co-founded Tesla, an electric car company that is producing high performance electric cars that look to be commercially viable. Doing even more, he is the principal owner and Chairman of SolarCity which offers photovoltaic products and services.
He has actually followed his three areas of interest; he has co-founded and sold internet-based companies, with PayPal being a dominant player in the internet money transfer area. With clean energy he has put up Tesla and SolarCity. For space he has put up SpaceX.
He is actually a guy looking very much forward seeing the problems humanity is and will be facing and is trying to do something about it through entrepreneurial means. He sees the danger faced by man if earth is destroyed by man-made or natural catastrophes. The only way to get out is to go to space and form new colonies in distant planets. Hence he is in the space business. To combat climate change we need clean energy hence he is into electric cars and solar energy.
Elon has been busy trying to achieve his idealistic goals using his entrepreneurial talents.
Blogging is not that difficult. There are hosts of sites that allow you to blog and you can start pounding your keyboard and blog to your heart’s content. It’s not difficult, what’s difficult is how to stand out from the rest of the world’s multitude of bloggers.
Just like there are millions of runners out there, only a few become the elite. This is the case of Pete Cashmore, he blogs, he tweets and his famous. At only 19 years of age, in 2005 he founded Mashable.com and the website now has over 20 million viewers monthly and is a must read for all techies out there. Aside from blogging he also has legions of followers in Twitter, and writes a column for a major news outlet.
A British who now spends part of his time in America, he has been given many international recognitions including “Top 25 Web Celebs” by Forbes in 2009. For him to reach this status there must be substance to what he writes, given his age it’s a wonder how he has become such an authority in the technology field, but then again a number of today’s multi-millionaires and billionaires are below the age of 30 and made it big in the field of technology.
For the legions of bloggers out there it shows what can be achieved by the now more common activity of blogging.
If you go that far back when you mention the name Mark, the person that comes to mind is the famous writer Mark Twain. For those more into sports when you mention the name Mark, the person that comes to mind is Mark Spitz. These days when you mention the name Mark, it’s not surprising if the name Mark Zuckerberg comes to mind. How could you blame anyone for remembering that name immediately when there are over 800 million Facebook users? China and India are the only two countries left with a higher population than the number of Facebook users.
When you mention the name Dustin, the person that comes to mind may be Dustin Hoffman. Any other Dustin you may know? For the common man Dustin Moskovitz doesn’t ring a bell. It’s a bit unfair really since he is a co-founder of Facebook, but a significant portion of the 800 million users don’t know him.
He was one of the three dorm mates of Zuckerberg who founded Facebook in 2004 at Harvard. He was the pioneering chief technology officer, and then became vice president of engineering. He is credited with overseeing the major architecture of the site. Along with Zuckerberg he dropped out of Harvard and moved to California.
In late 2008 he left Facebook to start a new company named Asana described as a collaboration and messaging software company. He and his partner were able to get a good amount of funding for the company. They released to the public their new product early last year.
Moskovitz himself has invested in startup companies and even setup his own foundation named Good Ventures. Why can he afford this? Well as of September of last year Forbes Magazine estimated his net worth at $3.5 billion dollars. He sold 1% of his shares at Facebook in 2010 but still owns 5% of this multi-billion dollar company.
Very few people who live in this planet will ever be worth that much and at only 27 years of age. So who cares if you’re not as famous as Mark!
Necessity is the mother of invention as they say but just wanting to have something better or an alternative to something already in existence can also lead to a successful new product. Take the case of Blake Ross.
Born on July of 1985, in Miami Florida, he was already tech savvy at a very young age. At only 10 years old he built his first website. At only 15 years of age and still in high school he was already an intern at Netscape which was struggling back then since its web browser was way behind in popularity to Internet Explorer (owned by Microsoft).
It was while working at Netscape that the desire to have a simpler web browser that focused on speed and stability came into being. Along with Dave Hyatt he worked on what was to become the Mozilla Web Browser better known as Mozilla Firefox. This was released in 2004, when Ross was only 19 years old and it was wildly successful. Reports say the web browser was downloaded 100 million times in just a few months. When Firefox 2.0 was released on October 2006, there were 2 million downloads in 24 hours. There were 7 million web surfers switching to Firefox every month at that time.
Through Mozilla Firefox Ross became a multimillionaire. He went on to do another project called Parakey which was bought by Facebook in 2007. Ross joined Facebook thereafter.
There are those who want something different and are willing to take the risk to get it done. As shown by the young Blake Ross, it can be the path to great success.