7 business success stories that began in dorms

7 business success stories that began in dorms
Credit: Facebook

Hi there, my dear Millennial…

Successful yet?

No? Then what the hell are you waiting for?

I know, you feel like you’re barely legal to drink, and everyone expects you to get yourself together and Zuckerberg yourself in the business world.

But the truth of the matter is – if, you plan on succeeding in this competitive environment, now is the best possible time to do it.

How come? Well let’s face it – you’ve got nothing to lose. Yes, you have invested a certain amount of time and effort into it, but worst case scenario – you go back to your dorm room and concentrate on perfecting what you’re already doing, or pivoting.

The fact is, there’s only so much you can learn in those four classroom walls; don’t get me wrong, exams and grades are not to be neglected, but there truly is no better way to grow your ‘business persona’ but through real-world education, that is, principle of trial and error.

Let’s see who dared to jump the cold waters and fight the torrents:

Mark Zuckerberg

Of course we’ll start with Facebook; no matter how well you already know the story, this genius Harvard whiz truly deserves to be at the top of every list. More than 10 years ago he chose to drop out of college and focus all his attention to his website. What probably came as a surprise to his parents – the decision proved to be the right one, since now, in his early 30s, Facebook’s estimated net worth exceeds $56 billion, making this young professional 5th richest person in the world.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin

Google, the almighty tyrant (at least in the eyes of digital marketers) itself. Next year, it will be exactly two decades since Larry Page and Sergey Brin met on a Stanford campus. While working on their PhDs, they collaborated on the Stanford Digital Library Project, creating what’s today known to be the very first version of Google – google.standord.edu. With more and more users searching for much needed answers to their questions, it did not take the website long to become everyone’s #1 go-to source of relevant information.

Referring to Google’s historic development as rapid growth would be an understatement, and the real question is – how much bigger can it get?

Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian

Whenever you feel discouraged and need a picker-upper after a devastating failure, read the story of Reddit. When they were just two ambitious students at the University of Virginia, Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian made their first attempt of launching a startup from what is now considered a prestigious Y Combinator program. But before getting their big break, the dynamic duo had to fight a couple of obstacles – the original idea was turned down, and Paul Graham, the co-founder of the Combinator, suggested they go a different way and work on a bulletin board which will serve as a platform for entertainment and sharing news.

Reddit was sold in 2006 to Condé Nast for $20 million and has acquired a status of one of the largest communities on the web.

Evan Spiegel

Many are those who are still flabbergasted by the fact that an app created solely for the purposes of sharing embarrassing pics will live to experience stellar success. How it happened? Nothing spectacular really; just a group of fraternity guy discussing sexting and commenting on questionable party pictures. However, SnapChat quickly outgrew its immature beginnings and is now worth more than $20 billion. Like Zuckerberg, Spiegel chose to drop out of a prestigious college and dedicate his life to running one of the biggest social media outlets out there.

Jamie Beaton

While some chose to begin their careers dropping out of college, others weren’t so lucky to even get into one. Although we are all aware of the issue that not everyone who’s gifted get to enjoy the perks of the Ivy League education, only Jamie Beaton decided to do something concrete about it, and so he created Crimson Education. With the desire to find solutions for ambitious students who aimed at Harvard, Yale, Princeton or Cambridge, he created an online tutoring and mentoring company which has an impressive success rate and has already helped more than 20 thousand students.

From guiding students through the maze of international university admissions, to helping future students build strong communication skills, Crimson’s approach aims to ensure success beyond tertiary studies.

Michael Dell

At the age of 19, Michael Dell had a (then-)revolutionary idea to sell PCs directly to consumers. Although today this might not seem as impressive, if it weren’t for the 1984 University of Texas student, who knows when people would get the chance to acquire a custom personal computer. Riding the computer boom of the late 80s and early 90s alongside Rod Canion and Steve Jobs, Dell managed to turn a fledging startup into a 20-something billion enterprise. All it took was a simple idea which filled the market gap and answered the needs of many.

Arash Ferdowsi and Drew Houston

In 2007, when email was one of the primary forms of online communications, two MIT students got extremely annoyed by the fact that they were unable to send large files. Instead of going with the email wouldn’t accept my homework excuse, they decided to craft an ideal solution. And that is the origin of Dropbox, now one of the most reputable file sharing services, with millions of users worldwide who praise its practicality.


Did we forget someone? We most certainly did – Bill Gates, for instance, who, as well, chose to leave Harvard education, quit hacking and use his little grey cells for building a startup of his own.

If we were to mention every single student who started a successful business during their college years, it would be an endless list. From Seth Berkowitz’ Insomnia cookies which started as a cooking project and Rick Rubin’s Def Jam Records, to Paul Orfalea and his 70s copy machine business and Nat Turner’s InviteMedia, a tech company that designed a platform for buying digital banner ads.

The industries are many and offer innumerable possibilities, so to repeat the question from the beginning – what the hell are you waiting for?

This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.

Read next: How AI is becoming essential for Social Media

Pssst, hey you!

Do you want to get the sassiest daily tech newsletter every day, in your inbox, for FREE? Of course you do: sign up for Big Spam here.