When you’re sitting in a dorm room, surrounded by books and don’t have any capital, starting a business is a longshot at best.
Still, the roots of many startups’ success stories can be traced back to the college. Business ideas and operations are flourishing on campuses, empowered by rapid technological advancement. The entrepreneur’s vision engrosses young minds, driving them to rise up to the challenge and overcome the obstacles.
The most popular social hub in the world has a legendary origin story. It made its baby steps in dorm rooms, as a closed social network for Harvard students. Back then, it did not even resemble the Facebook we know today, it was not until all users aged 13 and above were accepted that the platform that it really kicked off. Today, it’s one of the Internet’s top businesses, and the epitome of a college project turned corporate giant.
The most prominent content management system in the world, WordPress, was started in 2003 by college freshmen Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little. Little did they suspect that their publishing platform would one day run 20% of the web, bringing forth 41.7 million new posts each month. Perhaps the most striking thing about WP is that it is open-source software, which means that users can access it free of charge.
Back in 1994, Yahoo was in its early stage and represented just a list of favorite web pages that two students assembled in order to help their colleagues. In fact, it was called “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web”. After the visits started piling up, the two friends realized the business potential this venture had. They found out that “yahoo” was already trademarked, but they simply added an exclamation mark and went on to make internet history.
This company was founded by Adam Fasullo, a student who decided to do a double degree, bachelor in business/IT. Sitting on two chairs had its advantages, but he discovered that the notes and past assignments got shared around without him noticing. That is why he created an innovative project called Thinkswap. This personal study library has evolved into a booming community of Australian students, who upload, download, and share resources in this large document library.
When two janitors at the University of Wisconsin started producing a free paper in their dorm, they couldn’t even dream about their future success. Tim Keck had secured a loan from his mom, and his partner Chris Johnson probably considered similar means of financing. It didn’t come to that as the sales to their colleagues went through the roof. The Onion spread throughout the Midwest, eventually becoming a beloved satirical publication.
The university of Virginia was the birthplace of Reddit, one of the top entertainment and social networking bulletin boards in the online galaxy. It’s adored for its wide array of customization options as well as its unique, straightforward interface. There’s also democracy at work here: Registered users can vote the content up and down the list, taking part in a bustling community of young people from across the globe.
Night college owls tend to get creative when it comes to boosting their concentration and motivation. Seth Berkowitz figured out that satisfying his late-night sweet tooth does the trick. Hence, he began baking cookies and selling small batches of them to other students. As the demand grew, he came up with new recipes and offered off-campus deliveries, setting the foundations for a lucrative enterprise.
A new world of opportunities
From humble beginnings to business greatness, venturesome students have come a long way. They utilized a whole network of resources they had at their disposal and managed to climb up the career ladder.
It’s estimated that around one-third of business incubators are located at universities, which announces a brave new dawn. It is worth noting that many of these success stories were fueled by the digital revolution and growth opportunities in the realm of the internet.
Tracey Clayton is a full-time mom of three girls and is passionate about traveling, marketing and everything tech related. Her motto is: “Live the life you love; love the life you live.”