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7 Companies You Didn’t Realize Were Founded by College Students

From humble beginnings…

School Pays

Sure, we all know that Facebook was famously launched from Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room, but the social media giant isn’t the only successful company to rise from pizza box-cluttered surroundings.

From successful startups to massive, multinational brands, we’re going to tell you about 7 companies you never realized were founded by college students.

Insomnia Cookies

It’s a dilemma familiar to every college student – it’s late, you’re hungry, and you’re bored with the few remaining food options. When Seth Berkowitz was a junior at the University of Pennsylvania in 2003, that craving proved an opportunity.

Later that year, Berkowitz founded Insomnia Cookies, baking and delivering fresh cookies to his fellow students. One year later, the company’s first retail location opened in Syracuse, NY – today there are more than 100 storefronts, most located near college campuses.

FedEx

In 1962, Yale student Fred Smith submitted a business proposal for an economics class, outlining the creation of a global logistics company that would handle cargo from pick-up to delivery. According to legend, Smith received a C.

Undaunted, Smith raised $91 million in venture capital after graduating, and launched Federal Express, later FedEx, in 1971. Today, the company’s annual revenue exceeds $50 billion.

ModCloth

Not only was the indie and vintage retailer ModCloth founded out of a dorm room by Susan Gregg Koger and Eric Koger, the two of them were also high school sweethearts. (They’re now married.)

While students at Carnegie Mellon, the pair launched the site to feed Susan Kroger’s love affair with thrift shopping. Fifteen years later, in March 2017, they sold ModCloth to Jet.com, in a deal reportedly worth between $51 and $75 million.

Kinko’s

How can you fit half a dozen photocopy machines as well as some surly employees all in one dorm room? Well, you can’t, but the idea for Kinko’s came to founder Paul Orfalea while a student at USC, sick of waiting to use the Xerox machine.

His father co-signed a $5,000 bank loan, and Orfalea opened the first Kinko’s location in 1970 (Orfalea’s nickname was Kinko, because of his curly red hair). Oddly enough, Orfalea later sold the company to another corporation on this list, FedEx, in 2004.

Dropbox

When MIT student Drew Houston kept forgetting his USB flash drive back in his dorm room, inspiration struck – he would create (along with fellow MIT-er Arash Fersowsi) a simple, always-synced, cloud-based file storage. That platform would come to be known as Dropbox, launched in 2007.

Today, the company is (contentiously) valued at $10 billion, with more than 500 million users.

Dell

In 1983 University of Texas at Austin freshman Michael Dell began selling PC components and upgrade kits from his dorm room. Dell officially founded the business a year later, dropping out of school, and expanding the range of PC’s Limited (now Dell) offerings.

According to Forbes, Michael Dell is the 38th richest person in the world, with a net worth north of $23 billion. Dell is the third largest PC vendor globally, behind only HP and Lenovo.

WordPress

University of Houston freshman Matt Mullenweg was just looking for a simpler way to publish his personal website. So in 2003, he, along with British developer Mike Little, forked a PHP script and began building WordPress. 14 years later, their technology now powers 26% of the web.

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