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 a 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.
I naturally started to dig a bit deeper and asked him a few more questions, but the conversation took a drastic turn. As I was asking Alex my questions, he politely interrupted me and told me that 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 what his major was. He then 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 of 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 grew up neither poor nor rich. He lived in middle-class America. As a kid, he didn’t always fit in because he was a dork in every way you can imagine. He had braces, glasses and heavy metal bands shirts, and he loved playing computer games.
He grew up with a of rebel spirit: 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 hated school and never really did well at it.
Life as a gamer
As Alex got older, he got into video games. The first one he got addicted to was Dinky Bomb. What was unique about this game is that it had a forum community for the gamers to go to and discuss the game.
Alex got so addicted to the community, he started spending more time in the forum itself than actually playing the game. He loved being there so much that he decided 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: either to quit or to create what he wanted himself.
He decided to embark on the journey of web design and development so he could learn how to create his own community. During this process, he stumbled upon an open source community called WordPress. Within hours, he was hooked and started to learn how to build. 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 things they promised.
In April 2008, he stumbled on a framework that fit on top of WordPress that solved all of his problems. The theme was Thesis for WordPress. Unlike most things for WordPress, however, Thesis cost $87.00. It was not 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 him to create a booming Thesis freelance business. He 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 $6,000.00 to $8,000.00 a month all the while being a 17-year-old.
The not so much college life
During his senior year, while all of Alex’s friends were planning on attending college, he decided 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 $4,000.00 in revenue. And in April, his third month, he did $10,000.00 in revenue.
So, how did he grow his revenue to $10,000 a month so quickly? 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 making 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. You just have to find something you are really passionate about, go out there and just do it. In other words, you have to hustle.
Alex did whatever it took to succeed, and he didn’t let the fact that he didn’t have a ton of money growing up or that he barely graduated from high school stop him from succeeding.
If you want to succeed, you can’t let anything stand in your way: be it grades you got in school, money you grew up with or have currently, or your age. Just keep on pushing forward.
So, what did you learn from Alex’s story?