18 College Dropouts Who Went on to Build Multi-Billion $$$ Companies

18 College Dropouts Who Went on to Build Multi-Billion $$$ Companies

Most people believe in making success the clichéd way: graduate from a stud university, get a degree, grab a job and die. But when you are following that way, know that is the herd calling. Chronicles say, people who bent the iron in the world were mostly ones who chose to dropout from college.

Under certain circumstances, the line between determination and desperation is the agreeable balance dedicated to an epitomized life. There you have the deal. All these ladies and gentlemen were too engrossed in their ride, so much as so that many even considered their time at the university “wasted”.

“My family thought I was crazy pants”, said Alexa Von Tobel, founder of LearnVest which raised $25m funding

The founder of Tumblr, David Karp. Co-founders of Amway, Jay Van Andel and Richard DeVos. Founder of Hallmark, Joyce C.Hall. Needless to say, they are not stalemates nor am I narrating Garfield’s notion of success to you. Infact, they are the checkmate.Actions speak louder. Here are a few names that are seated at the helm of their realms after they chose to work over attending classes.

1. David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue airlines. Dropped out of college after three years.

Walt Disney

2. Walt Disney, founder of the Walt Disney Company. Dropped out of high school at 16.

3. DeWitt Wallace, founder and publisher of Reader’s Digest. Dropped out of college after one year. Went back, then dropped out again after the second year.

4. Frederick Henry Royce, auto designer, multimillionaire co-founder of Rolls-Royce. Dropped out of elementary school.

5. Larry Ellison, billionaire co-founder of Oracle software company. Dropped out of two different colleges.

6. Richard Branson, billionaire founder of Virgin Records, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Mobile, and more. Dropped out of high school at 16.

7. Ty Warner, billionaire developer of Beanie Babies, real estate investor, and hotel  owner. Dropped out of college.

8. Sahil Lavingia dropped out of his first semester at the University of Southern California to become the second employee and lead designer at Pinterest. One year after joining the company, the entrepreneur left to start his own company, Gumroad, which lets people sell anything they can share, such as a song or blog post.

Leslie Wexner

9. Leslie Wexner, billionaire founder of a Limited Brands. Dropped out of law school. Started the Limited with $5,000.

10.  Pete Cashmore,  turned to the Internet to socialize due to various medical complications and even finished high school two years late due to his health. Cashmore never attended college, but launched Mashable at the age of 19.

11.  Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s. Dropped out of high school.

12.  Susan Lyne spent time at George Washington University, the University of California at Berkeley. Later, she became the president of ABC Entertainment, making “Greys Anatomy” and “Desperate Housewives.” At present, she is a CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Gilt Groupe, and was recently named the head of AOLs content brands.

13.  Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, billionaire. Did not complete college.

Tom Anderson

14.  Tom Anderson, co-founder and “friend” of MySpace. Dropped out of high school.

15.  W. Clement Stone, multimillionaire insurance man, author, founder of Success magazine. Dropped out of elementary school. Later attended high school, graduating. Attended but did not finish college.

16.  Daniel Ek left engineering at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden after eight weeks in 2005. He became a millionaire just a few years later. At the age of 14, Ek founded his first company. He applied for an engineering job at Google at age 16. Five years from then, he co-founded Spotify, which now has more than 32 million paying subscribers worldwide.

17.  Evan Williams made it through just a year and a half at the University of Nebraska before realizing it wasn’t for him and that he wanted to start working. Eventually, he started Pyra Labs, which led to a side project called Blogger. No further introduction is needed. He eventually left Google to start Odeo, a podcasting company that spawned Twitter, where he later served as CEO.

Evan Williams

18.  Arash Ferdowsi, co-founder of DropBox, which began with just a few lines of coding written in a bus stop, now about $400m worth.

The upshot of dropping out

What is it the most invaluable thing you get if you scrap out graduation? Think, think..

It is Time! Think about it. You would not have to set an alarm, take a shower, gulp a cereal and go to college which after graduating would be replaced with some cubicle placed at the end of another Daigon Alley.

Save that. And invest time with wisdom. All these pioneers took calculative measures to have a correct equation in reaching their goals.

Because road to success is not certified with a certificate; it is not glorified with graduation. Success is to bend with an intuition towards growth, living not just a better life, but a different life.

Note: We at Inc42 take our ethics very seriously. More information about it can be found here.

You have reached your limit of free stories
Become An Inc42 Plus Member

Become a Startup Insider in 2024 with Inc42 Plus. Join our exclusive community of 10,000+ founders, investors & operators and stay ahead in India’s startup & business economy.

Unlock 60% OFF
Cancel Anytime
Unlock 50% OFF
Cancel Anytime
Already A Member?
Discover Startups & Business Models

Unleash your potential by exploring unlimited articles, trackers, and playbooks. Identify the hottest startup deals, supercharge your innovation projects, and stay updated with expert curation.

18 College Dropouts Who Went on to Build Multi-Billion $$$ Companies-Inc42 Media
How-To’s on Starting & Scaling Up

Empower yourself with comprehensive playbooks, expert analysis, and invaluable insights. Learn to validate ideas, acquire customers, secure funding, and navigate the journey to startup success.

18 College Dropouts Who Went on to Build Multi-Billion $$$ Companies-Inc42 Media
Identify Trends & New Markets

Access 75+ in-depth reports on frontier industries. Gain exclusive market intelligence, understand market landscapes, and decode emerging trends to make informed decisions.

18 College Dropouts Who Went on to Build Multi-Billion $$$ Companies-Inc42 Media
Track & Decode the Investment Landscape

Stay ahead with startup and funding trackers. Analyse investment strategies, profile successful investors, and keep track of upcoming funds, accelerators, and more.

18 College Dropouts Who Went on to Build Multi-Billion $$$ Companies-Inc42 Media
18 College Dropouts Who Went on to Build Multi-Billion $$$ Companies-Inc42 Media
You’re in Good company