Everyone has heard of those crazy college drop outs who started an awesome business out of their dorm room and now they are millionaires. While it is rare to make millions off of your own business after dropping out of college, it is something that does happen. That’s part of what fuels the dreams of entrepreneurship that linger in the business buildings of universities around the world. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, those are the dreams that morph into companies that truly change the world.
Individuals in high end Ivy League Universities tend to get most of the attention in the media, but there are those from all walks of life, and all universities, who have made a huge impact in the business world. It doesn't take a genius to create an amazing company while they are in college. Many times, all it takes is a large amount of tenacity, drive, persistence, and a great idea. It’s the passion to push forward, more than anything, that lets students create an amazing business while they are still in school.
Many of these kinds of businesses have come and gone, but some have managed to stay the course and solidify themselves in their field. Some of these companies are the best known companies in the world, while others are niche industry masterpieces that solve complex problems in their field. These companies were started by all different types of individuals from many different universities. Many of them were founded out of dorm rooms, and financed by humble donations from friends and family. Here is a list of the best college start-ups of each of the past 10 years.
10 2004 - Facebook
Everyone knows of the social media giant Facebook. This website was started in 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg and his fellow students. The success of this college start up has been massive. In 2014 it was estimated that Facebook had well over a billion active users on their site.
Most know that Facebook started out as a site that was specifically for Harvard students, but quickly expanded to other universities and high schools. When Facebook announced that it was now open to all users over the age of 13 in the year 2007, it really took off. Now, Facebook is one of the largest and most used internet sites on the web today.
9 2005 - Reddit
Reddit was started by University of Virginia students Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian. Reddit.com has grown greatly and now has 28 employees and is the 64th largest site in the world according to the Alexa rankings. The site is a collection of posts submitted by registered users, who also vote content up and down.
Making it to Reddit’s front page is a great, coveted source of exposure for websites of all kinds, and Reddit’s youthful demographic makes the site a great place for sites, products, and artists to get a lot of exposure quickly.
8 2006 - Quiyk
Quick was started up by Emerson College students Eric Wahl and Matt Lowe. They capitalized off of the popular success of J.K. Rowling's book Harry Potter, and the popular Quidditch game in that book. The game of Quidditch has been modified for real world use, and Quick has become the number one official clothing company for this sport.
This company has continued to be the number one supplier of athletic apparel for this sport. It’s very niche, but it’s quirky, fun, and caters to a loyal demographic. Players would have to be passionate to run around with a broom between their legs.
7 2007 - Dropbox
Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, two MIT students, were tired of not being able to send big files over email, and decided to make a change. In 2007 they founded Dropbox, a company that allows individuals to store and send large files through a file sharing service. This company started off as a small idea, but has grown to epic proportions.
Over 200 million individuals around the world now use Dropbox to send files to each other, or just to store their documents in the cloud. More than Google, Apple, or Microsoft, this company has become the leader in file sharing on the internet.
6 2008 - 6 Dot
Karina Pikhart was an undergraduate student at MIT when she decided there needed to be a change made to braille technology. The problem: There wasn't a good solution for braille labels out there. During her undergraduate studies at MIT she developed a technology that allowed for individuals to easily make braille labels for the visually impaired.
Along with Robert Liebert, these two decided to take this product to market. With a successful Kickstarter campaign, the company was ready to get off the ground. For many years this company has been growing and bringing this important technology into the hands of those who need it most. The future of this company looks very bright indeed.
5 2009 - First Round Records
Teague Egan, Zack Johnson, Sterling Brewster, and Riley Egan, are all successful business men who started their record label before the age of 25. While still completing their degree at UCLA, they decided to start a record label, having already gotten a start in business by investing in successful start ups. Not only did they make a killing with that investment venture, but they bought a whole bunch of Apple shares, which appreciated in value to the point that they were able to start up their own record label.
During their first year, they had a revenue of $645,000 – not too shabby for an industry that is struggling with sales. Most of this revenue is brought to them by breakout rap success Sammy Adams.
4 2010 - Cheeseboy (Based On First Store Opening)
Everybody loves a great grilled cheese sandwich. Michael Inwald took this love of cheesy goodness and turned it into a great business. While still attending school, Michael decided to start making grilled cheese sandwiches at county fairs and other events. With a massive amount of success at these food booths, Michael decided to start up his first Boston based Cheeseboy store in 2010.
The cheese continues to satisfy customers as the name continues to grow. Franchise options have begun to take this student-owned business into a growing fast food chain, and made it likely that the company will have a great future ahead.
3 2011- Snapchat
The messages last seconds, but that’s not what counts; the users stick around day after day. Snapchat is a fun way to communicate with friends about the fun things that you do every day. It is also a brand new way to... flirt with that sexy someone who has caught your eye – just hope they don’t take a screenshot.
Snapchat was started by Stanford University students Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy, and has grown into a worldwide phenomenon. As seen on Yahoo Finance News, "Last fall Spiegel reportedly turned down as much as $3 billion from Facebook (FB) and $4 billion from Google (GOOG)". This is pretty incredible, seeing as how it is really just a photo sharing tool. Just goes to show that a picture really is worth a thousand words – or a few billion dollars.
2 2012- Big Fish Presentations
Big Fish Presentations was started by a group of college students looking to have an easier time presenting in front of their classes. Soon, this idea became much bigger, and the product is now helping Fortune 500 companies impress their clients with high end, easy to produce, engaging presentations.
Big fish is great for clients who are looking to produce a training video, a click through presentation, a short commercial, or more. It makes affordable visual aids that can help users complete virtually any task - from selling a million dollar yacht to teaching more about a benefits program.
1 2013- Owlet Baby Monitors
Owlet Baby Monitors are some of the most high end and high tech infant products to hit the market in the last decade. Created by students at Brigham Young University, this technology allows parents to keep a close eye on their children.
A small and non-invasive ankle monitor is placed on a baby and links into a parent’s iPhone. This baby monitor reads out all of the baby's vitals and gives real time information to parents on their iPhone. Alerts can also be set to this app, which will alert parents when any action needs to be taken.