Dropout Boy Billionaires

Series Startup Mind

Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates aren’t the only billionaires who are college drop-out. The founder(s) of Google, Dell, Apple, Oracle, Oyo Rooms, Quick Heal are also college drop-outs. Majority of them had dropped-out from their graduate/master’s colleges, while some of them are Ph.D or MBA drop-outs. But, kindly note that they are the college dropouts by their choices to build their start-ups or due to family circumstances; not because they dislike learning new things.

Some Notable Examples

* Bill Gates – Microsoft (Harvard University)

*Steve Jobs – Apple (Reed College)

* Larry Ellison – Oracle (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ; University of Chicago)

* Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook (Harvard University)

* Larry Page – Google (Stanford University)

* Sergey Brin – Google (Stanford University)

* Steve Ballmer – Microsoft  (Stanford University)

* Paul Allen – Microsoft (Washington State University)

*Jan Koum – WhatsApp (San Jose State University)

* Michael Dell– Dell (University of Texas at Austin)

* Sean Parker – Napster (skipped college)

*Elon Musk – Tesla (Stanford University)

* Jack Dorsey – Twitter (New York University) & many more…

Some Notable Indians

* Mukesh Ambani – Reliance Industries (Stanford University)

*Gautam Adani – Adani Group (Gujarat University)

* Radhakishan Damani – DMart (University of Mumbai)

* Ritesh Agarwal – Oyo (University of Delhi)

* Kunal Shah – CRED & FreeCharge (SVKM’s NMIMS)

*Kailash Katkar – Quick Heal Technologies (10th Grade)

* Rahul Yadav -Housing.com (IIT Bombay) & many more…

Some of them also enrolled back to the college to complete their educations. Two notable examples,

  • In 1966, on the news of his father’s death, then 21-year-old Azim Premji returned India from Stanford University, where he was about to complete his degree in engineering. In 1999, Premji officially completed his degree from Stanford through a distance-learning arrangement.
  • In 1981, Steve Wozniak of Apple enrolled back at UC Berkeley to complete his engineering degree. (Though he was never a billionaire.)

I am not against a college or university education and don’t conclude that you can get 100% business success without it. But from my point of view, the college life is the best time for starting a business. Check out my view points:

1) You may have enough leisure time in a college to start a business. (Though it depends upon a student.)

2) Your living conditions are ideal to start a business. (Mostly college /university students stay in the hostels with friends.) So it may be easy for you to find and choose the right co-founder(s) sharing the same vision.

3) Your friend or support circle is huge in the college days. More reachability for your products and presence. Neither Facebook was the first social media nor Google was the first search engine. Apart from their innovative technical approaches, they got huge benefits from peer support group in their initial stages.

4) Even if your start-up fails, you will gain the experience of the real business world that you may never learn at B-School course. (PS: The startup ecosystem in the Indian Campuses has gained good visibility in the recent time.)

5) You can take advantage of the technical/hackathons or business competitions on different campuses.

Of course, age is no barrier and there are an ample number of examples who started in later life and became successful. But, better utilisation of the college days provide the higher chances of creating a successful startup business as one may be free from much social or economic pressure.