Posted: 10:36 a.m. Wednesday, July 17, 2013
By Em Maier
One year after taking $100,000 to drop out of school, how are these young entrepreneurs doing? Inc. checked in to see what they've been up to.
The 2012 Thiel Fellows were given $100,000 on one condition: drop out of school. So they packed up their shower caddies and headed out to become entrepreneurs. It's not without homework, though, says Ross Gillfillan from the Thiel Foundation. "They have to do monthly status reports: how many mentors they've met, everything from the business side to the personal aspect. But we don't micro-manage them. It's a hands-off, hands-on type of program." It's been a year since the Thiel class of 2012 started their journey. We checked in with five of them to see how they're doing.
In the Past Year: Allsop and co-founder Brian Rowen have been working on Propeller, "which allows any business or person to create their own mobile apps in minutes without writing any code," Allsopp says. "We've been quietly working on our technology, and have grown to a team of five over the summer (and we're hiring!)" Milestones: Allsop's book on RubyMotion was published in December, shipping over 1500 copies. Meanwhile, Propellor just finished its seed round, generating $1.25 million. What do you miss about college? "The constant availability of food."
In the Past Year: Stigler stayed in San Francisco to create Zaption, a platform for teachers to make interactive video lessons. Milestones: "Since March we have raised our first round of funding, hired our first employees, and signed with our first paying customer." What do you miss about college? "I miss the jam-packed social life on campus at Columbia, and my rowing team. But I also remember that all of my friends are only there for two more years--then they're in the same place I am."
In the Past Year: Field worked on Flipboard's 2.0 release, house hunted, and started Figma with Evan Wallace. Milestones: TechCrunch reports that Field's raised over $3.5 million for Figma. What do you miss about college? "I miss my friends and the greater Brown community. That said ... at this point most of my friends have graduated. Thankfully, many of them will be joining me in the Bay Area!"
In the Past Year: Zwick has been busy splitting his time between two projects, both working on improving phone use and interaction. Milestones: "We have partnered with hundreds of games to work with our new hardware and are talking to several retail partners. Flashcards has now been used by over 2.5 million people." What do you miss about college? "I think that this past year outside of school has provided me with a tremendous amount of knowledge no school could ever teach, but I also miss the more liberal arts environment you find in some colleges."
In the Past Year: Olah has been writing software for 3D printing (ImplicitCad and mech.ly) as well as contributing to non-profits, open source projects, and pursuing side projects. Milestones: "I feel like I've started to develop some subtle, important intellectual skills I previously lacked. There's some things that are really hard to teach explicitly, but that one can learn by attempting serious work and having informal conversations with people in similar fields." What do you miss about college? "There isn't much I miss. But there are things I regret not taking a lot more advantage of, like journal access and easy access to experts in almost any field I was interested in."