Forget Frat Parties: Start a Student Business

We’ve all heard the tale of how Mark Zuckerburg came up with the idea of Facebook while he was a student at the Ivy League research university, Harvard. Most students were cramming for their finals or attending the latest party. Zuckerburg? He was busy securing his place in history and birthing the social media phenomenon that is so prevalent in the lives of the almost 900 million global users.

Fancy a slice of the action? Then back away from the parties and set about starting your own student business, and no, we’re not talking lemonade stands. Zuckerburg is not the only person to focus his skills on creating a business instead of studying. Take a look at some more hot shots who set success in motion while they were still students.

Larry Page – In 1996, with the help of fellow Stanford student, Sergey Brin, Page set out on a mission to change the working of Internet search algorithms by creating a technology they termed ‘pagerank.’ Did they succeed? Ahem, yes. The new breed of search engine they created has netted the pair a combined wealth of $30 billion. It’s called Google if you hadn’t guessed.

Henry Luce and Briton Hadden – Proving that entrepreneurship is not the sole domain of students from the age of Web 2.0, this pair of Yale University students founded the iconic publication, Time Magazine, at the tender age of just 23. From the publication of the first American weekly news magazine in 1923, Time magazine now enjoys a committed reader base of over 25 million people

Matt Mullenweg – The founder of the almost effortlessly successful self-publishing platform that is WordPress, this University of Houston student has built a platform that since 2003 has come to power almost 150,000 of the million most popular websites on the entire Internet.

If these examples are not enough to inspire you, how about the tales of mere children who have done largely the same? There must be something about the age of 15.

Cameron Johnson – After selling his sister’s collection of Beanie Babies for the somewhat cool sum of $50,000, the 12-year-old went on to become a member of the board at a Tokyo corporation. He subsequently released a best-selling book, ‘The 15-Year Old CEO.’

Adam Horowitz – From a somewhat murky start centered on a gossip blog, the 15-year-old Horowitz launched Urban Stomp, an innovative site hosting hot music tracks and providing listings for even hotter neighborhood parties. This teenager has gone on to build a successful career in Internet marketing.

Fraser Doherty – This 15-year-old made his millions selling Super Jam. His tasty concoctions, in flavors including rhubarb & ginger and blueberry & blackcurrant, are based on his Grandmother’s recipes and are sold in almost every major UK supermarket. Sweet.

So the message is crystal clear, or at least it should be. Back away from the beer (or the soda), study hard, but turn your attention to what you’ll be doing post-university. A great idea and a bit of luck could land you a spot in student entrepreneur history. It’s a nice place to be.


Linda Forshaw is a Business Information Systems graduate from Liverpool in the United Kingdom. She is a writer for Degree Jungle and published author who specializes in social media, technology and entrepreneurship. You can find her on Twitter @seelindaplay

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