You need a college degree to succeed, right? Sure, it does help give you a leg up on your competition, but to be an entrepreneur you don’t need one.
I recently ran into Quick Sprout reader, Alex Mangini, who was sharing his story with me. Within minutes I was amazed at his story because he was telling me how he went from making nothing to $10,000 a month in less than a year.
So I naturally started to dig a bit deeper and ask him a few more questions, but the conversation took a drastic turn. As I was asking Alex some more questions, he politely interrupted me and told me how he had to go back to class.
At first I thought he meant that he had to go to a college class, so I quickly asked him his major… but then he said… “I am a high school student”.
So naturally I felt that I had to share his story with you because there aren’t that many high school kids that I know that make $10,000 a month ($120,000 a year). Heck, there aren’t that many people in the world that actually make $120,000 a year.
So here is Alex Mangini’s story:
The early life
Alex was born and raised in Columbus, New Jersey. He didn’t grow up poor or rich… but instead he lived in middle class America. As a kid, he didn’t always fit in because was a dork in everyway you can imagine. He had braces, glasses, heavy metal band shirts… and he loved playing computer games.
He grew up with a sort of rebel spirit in the sense that he was never interested in the standard approach to life, which entailed going to school to get a job. Since the beginning of his early elementary school days, he’s always hated school and never really did well at it.
Life as a gamer
As Alex got older he really got into video games. The first one he got addicted to was Dinky Bomb. But what was unique about this game versus all of the other ones out there is that it had a forum community for the gamers to go and discuss the game.
Alex got so addicted to the community, he actually started to spend more time in the forum itself than actually playing the game. He started to love it so much that he decided to he wanted to start his own community.
At first he was trying to find others to help him create one, but they wanted thousands of dollars, which he didn’t have. At this point he had two options… the first being to quit and the second being to create it himself.
He decided to embark on the journey on web design and development so he could learn how to create his own community. During this process he stumbled on an open source community called WordPress. Within hours he was hooked on it and started to learn how to build on top of it… he accomplished all of this at the age of 14.
He was able to leverage WordPress to create his first blog, which was on web design. Within months of launching it he was able to get it generate a few hundred bucks a month from advertising.
The web life
Although Alex loved WordPress, he felt there was one big issue with it… there were a ton of bad themes out there. They weren’t user friendly, they didn’t look great, and they didn’t do all of the thing things they promised.
In April 2008 stumbled on a framework that fit on top on WordPress that solved all of his problems, which was called Thesis for WordPress. But unlike most things for WordPress, Thesis was $87 instead of being free. Luckily for him, he decided to spend the money.
Once he purchased the Thesis framework, he started to design a theme. The first design he created was an instant hit throughout the community. That one design eventually led to him creating a booming Thesis freelance business. He started his own business that sold Thesis skins, and he got hired to work for the company that created Thesis, DIYthemes.
As a developer working on the Thesis framework and freelancing he was earning $6000 to $8000 a month all while he was only 17 years old.
The not so much college life
While all of Alex’s friends where planning on attending college, during his senior year he made the choice that he wasn’t going to go to college. Not because Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg did it… but because he really believed in himself and the skills he possessed.
He also felt that the schooling system was broken because you go college to learn how to start a business and get that dream job, when he already had both of those things.
During his senior year he worked on building up his rolodex and client base so that he could earn a living after high school. He did this by participating in the Thesis forum, blogging and guest blogging. Through those 3 avenues, he built up his income stream.
The scalable life
Although Alex is young, he’s actually really smart… especially when it comes to business. He realized that if you want to make a lot of money, you need to create a scalable business.
So earlier this year he decided to take a hit in his income by slowing down his freelance work so he could focus on his own project, Kolakube, which is a site that sells WordPress themes.
He spent a few months developing it and in Febuary he launched it. During the first month he only did $500 in revenue. During the second month he generated around $4000 in revenue. And in April he did $10,000 in revenue.
So how did he grow his revenue to $10,000 a month? He did it by creating user-friendly themes that were easy to use and he marketed them through WordPress forums. He would participate in forums such as the DIYthemes forum and give people free advice, which caused people to check out Kolakube and purchase themes from him.
Alex understands that if you want to continue make money online you have to diversify your income. Although Kolakube is generating most of his revenue these days, he is still focusing on expanding his revenue through diversification. He hasn’t decided if he is going to get into other platforms such as Tumblr, but he knows that he’ll have to diversify because it’s never good to have all of your eggs in one basket.
You don’t have to go to college to do well in life. Instead you just have to find something you are really passionate about, and just go out there and do it. In other words, you have to hustle.
Alex did whatever it took to succeed and he didn’t let the fact he didn’t have a ton of money growing or that he barely graduated high school stop him from succeeding.
If you want to succeed, you can’t let anything stand in your way. From grades in school to money, or even your age. Just keep on pushing forward.
So what did you learn from Alex’s story?