Most Successful Companies Founded by University Students
By Brian Matthews 2016-05-05 00:00:00
The digital revolution has created a boom in start-ups. But most significant is the boom in start-ups by young people, many of whom are still in university. With the advent of the internet, an incredible phenomenon has occurred that is difficult to appreciate while we are in the middle of it: the overhead cost of starting a business has dramatically decreased because many services and applications can be accessed online, and the ability to raise funds has dramatically increased with such things as crowd-funding, potential investors, and even governments making more and more capital available for investment. Overall, this is probably one of the most exciting times for business in human history. To appreciate this, we will take a look at some of the most successful businesses that were started by university students and that have, in turn, revolutionized the world as we know it – and very recently!
Napster In 1999, Shawn Fanning created an independent peer-to-peer sharing site that revolutionized (and for a time criminalized) the way we acquire and listen to music. In 1999, majority of music was only accessible in hard copy on CD’s. With the creation of Napster, the music industry was forced to evolve into a predominantly digital industry that has had incredibly deep consequences for the music industry by both closing down the hard-copy nature of the experience of music and by opening up the music world to an online community.
Wordpress Founded in 2003, Matt Mullenweg, at the University of Houston, envisioned a content management system that revolutionized the digital world and empowered ordinary people create valuable content. Out of the 1 million best website in the world, 130,000 are constructed using Wordpress. Companies such as Mercedes-Benz and Bloomberg use Wordpress as their company’s platforms – and even Katy Perry usesWordpress to stay in touch with her fans.
Google Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google when they were undergraduates at Stanford in 1998. It is difficult to imagine today that during the first years of this now behemoth tech company that Page and Brin were managing their studies and their company simultaneously. Google has since been one of the biggest drivers in tech innovation and invention over the past 20 years.
Facebook In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg was an undergraduate at Harvard when he conceived of connecting students with each other easily using a social media platform. During its conception, Facebook was only available to college students. However, it tapped into the general public’s desire to connect with each other and today it connects the entire globe by hosting 1.39 billion active users.
The past 20 years has made it quite evident that investing in tech and youth is one of the best investments that venture capitalists and governments can make. Thus, it has become easier than ever to raise funds for start-up ideas, especially for young minds in university, whose only resources are often the intellectual surroundings they find themselves steeped in and funds that they can raise independently through combinations of crowd-funding and government loans.