4 Successful Dropouts You’ve Never Heard Of

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When the subject of outstanding dropouts is brought up, we’re quick to mention Zuckerberg and Jobs, but the truth is many successful people have taken the dive out of school and ended up building large companies. We tracked down a few lesser-known entrepreneurs who decided school wasn’t there thing in an attempt to discover what makes a successful dropout.

Whesley Zhao and Ajay Mehta:

Y-combinator, global recognition, and a round of Venture capital investment. These are all things that Whesley Zhao and Ajay Mehta have achieved – without school. The 19 year-olds skipped out on formal education in favor of the “school of life,” and it’s paid off. The pair have built a social network for families and even conjured up a way to share photos with people in China.

When we asked them what their outlook on startups and school was, they had this to say. “You should do a bunch of risky stuff and see what sticks.” Looking back on the decision to drop out of school, neither founder has any regrets. Just a year ago they were freshmen in college with no website building experience, and now they have built a rocketing social network.

Brent Bushnell:

Odds are you’ve seen Brent’s handiwork: from the Viral Rube Goldberg Machine to the Bungee-Jumping car, he’s done some pretty awesome stuff. After just a couple years in college, Brent decided to leave school behind in favor of building DoppelGames.

He also co-founded a little group called Syyn Labs, which has gone on to produce some of the most awesome videos and stunts the world has ever seen. Brent told us that he sees school as a place to learn, not a place to get a degree, and for that reason he saw no need to graduate.

Seth Kravitz:

Seth built a website that grew 3450% in three years. Since then he’s built a Chicago-based entrepreneurial venture, and a coffee business. Seth considers himself unemployable and not fit for college, which is why he chose his current path.

On the subject of entrepreneurial-ism, Seth had this to say. “Starting a business is a lot more work than doing a job, and it takes a while to build a company, but the reward of building your own business is greater than all the job security in the world.”

Sam Reich:

You may not think of him as an entrepreneur, but the blonde-bearded guy from the College Humor videos is one heck of a bootstrapper. After dropping out of high school (yes, high school) Sam went on to found a production company and then College Humor’s original content selection.

When we asked Sam about his philosophy on education and startups, he responded by saying, “Find a way to do what you want to do without anyone giving you permission to do it.” Nobody gave him permission to drop out of school, but he did it anyways to pursue what he really loved, and it turned out well.

It takes a certain brand of human to drop out of the traditional system and create a sustainable business, but it’s not impossible. The overwhelming theme from dropouts is this: You’ve got to love what you’re pursuing enough to continue doing it when everyone else says your a failure and pursuing nothingness.


Thank you to UCLA student Josh Haynam of Entrepreneur Stories for submitting this guest post to Dorm Room Biz.

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