Successful College Dropouts That Will Inspire You

Troy Buckholdt
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Successful College Dropout

There are many successful college dropouts that you probably never heard of. Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs are not alone. Here is a list of 10 stories of people who made it big without going to college.

Many people will say that they are the anomaly, but if you look at top people on the Forbes billionaire list you will quickly see that this is not the case. Perhaps this is because people who do not go to college are likely the ones who think differently. Some might even consider them the crazy ones.

Jack Dorsey – Twitter & Square

Jack Dorsey founded both Twitter and Square. Each company is now worth nearly $30 billion each. This makes Jack worth over $5 billion. When he was in high school he was interested in computer and communications. This lead him to start programming at an early age. At 15 years old he wrote open source software for dispatch logistics. Jack went onto college and dropped out of New York University just one semester short of graduating because he wanted to turn his dispatch software into a business. He soon came up with the idea to combine his dispatch software with messaging to create a platform called Twitter.

Jack Dorsey College Dropout

David Karp – Tumbler

David Karp is the founder of Tumbler. Tumbler is worth around $1 billion which makes David worth over $200 million. David started programming at the very young age of 11 and by age 15 he dropped out of school to start homeschooling. He did this because it would allow him to land an internship with an animation company. This internship then opened up the door for him to become a full-time web developer at another company. When he was 17 years old he moved to Japan to learn more about the country’s technology. By the time he returned he was chief technology officer of his current company which was acquired in 2006. He then came up with the idea for a site where people could create short-form blogs and media content to be shared. This became Tumbler.

David Karp Successful College Dropout

Ralph Lauren – Ralph Lauren Corp

Ralph Lauren is the founder of Ralph Lauren Corporation. The corporation is worth over $10 billion and he’s personally worth $7 billion. Ralph went to a local college where he studied business for two years before dropping out. He got his start in fashion by working a sales job at Brooks Brothers. He then started creating his own neckties and branding them as “Polo” which would be sold in big department stores. He quickly expanded to all menswear and Polo became known for their preppy style.

Ralph Lauren College Dropout

Travis Kalanick – Uber

Travis Kalanick is the founder of Uber. A very popular ride-sharing app valued at around $100 Billion. This makes Travis worth nearly $6 billion. Travis went to UCLA to study computer engineering & business economics. He dropped out of college to work on his startup Scour which was an online file sharing service. He soon got sued for over $250 billion dollars from nearly everyone in the music industry forcing him into bankruptcy. He then went onto create another peer to peer file sharing which sold for 19 million. Garrett Camp shared the idea of Uber with Travis in 2009. Travis soon joined as a founding member and became the CEO.

Travis Kalanick College Dropout

Janus Friis – Skype

Janus Friis is the founder of Skype. Skype sold for $8.5 billion dollars to Microsoft making Janus worth over $1 billion. Janus dropped out of high school and began working at a help desk for an internet service provider. Janus was later hired as a customer service associate for a company where he would meet his cofounder. Janus and his new cofounder Zennstrom created KaZaA which is a peer to peer file sharing service. The company was ordered to shut down in 2001 due to copyright. They created a few more peer to peer companies before creating skype in 2003. Skype went on to have more than 50 million users by 2005 and continued to grow before their aquisition.

John Mackey – Whole Foods

John Mackey is the founder of Whole Foods. Whole Foods sold to Amazon for over $13 billion making John worth over $75 million. John dropped out of college to create a health food store called SaferWay. John raised over 30 thousand dollars to get SaferWay started and it eventually became Whole Foods. John devoted his life to selling high quality organic food. This allowed Whole Foods to flourish with 370 store and over 80,000 employees.

Jan Koum – WhatsApp

Jan Koum is the founder of WhatsApp. WhatsApp is a very popular messaging app used around the world. WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook for over $19 billion in 2014. This acquisition has made Jan worth nearly $10 billion! Jan was very poor growing up and his family immigrated to the US when he was 16. He taught himself programming in high school and went to college at San Jose State University and worked at Ernst & Young as a security tester. Jan dropped out of college to work at Yahoo full-time as an engineer. After working for a few years Jan quit Yahoo to travel. When he wanted to work again he applied to multiple tech companies and was rejected. This led him to create his own company, WhatsApp. The idea of connecting the world on a single messaging platform seemed really amazing to him. After founding the company in 2009 it quickly grew to over 500 million users.

Jan Koum College Dropout

Ellen DeGeneres – The Ellen Show

Ellen DeGeneres is the creator of The Ellen Show. The show generates over 4 million views per show. This has made Ellen worth over $450 million. Ellen enrolled at the University of New Orleans but dropped out after only one semester to work at a law firm doing clerical work. Ellen started doing standup comedy in New Orleans clubs and was named Showtimes funniest person in 1984. Ellen came out as a lesbian on the Oraph show which became the #1 rated show at the time. This helped propel her into the show business and by 2003 she had her own show.

Ellen DeGeneres College Dropout

David Geffen – DreamWorks Studios

David Geffen is the founder of DreamWorks Studios. You’ve probably seen many of their movies such as Shrek or Gladiator. This has made David the wealthiest person in Hollywood with a net worth of nearly $8 billion. David barley graduated high school and enrolled in college at the University of Texas at Austin. He quickly dropped out of college and reenrolled to only drop out again. He moved to LA to find his way in the entertainment business. David went on to create multiple record companies making him a millionaire. He then created Dreamworks with Steven Spielberg.

David Geffen College Dropout

Matt Mickiewicz – Hired

Matt Mickiewicz is the founder of three very successful companies. 99 Designs, Flippa, and Hired. Each company does millions in revenue and Hired is valued at well over $200 million. This has made Matt worth over $100 million. Matt learned how to program very early in life and created his first website at age 14. By age 16 he was selling tens of thousands of dollars in advertising during school. After high school, he chose not to attend college. He created 99 Designs in 2008 as a spin-off from his previous website which ended up raising over $35 million dollars. In 2009 he created Flippa which allows people to buy and sell businesses. In 2012 he founded Hired which connects high-quality technical talent with great companies. Matt did all of this before he was 30 years old.

Matt Mickiewicz College Dropout

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