The Young Successful Drop Out – The Most Dangerous Lie in Tech

Millions of people spend all their time perpetuating a poisonous myth to young entrepreneurs… one which if believed will likely lead to you ending up living with your mom at age 40. I’m sure you’ve seen the stories: “A high school kid builds an app in his bedroom one day and after just a couple of months gets a 100 million dollar acquisition”. Let me be the barer of bad news… it’s a lie, don’t buy it.
There is something about a story about a young unqualified person that effortlessly makes millions that appeals to us in this industry. In fact it’s very much like every Hollywood movie you’ve ever seen: some unlikely hero against all odds manages to come out on top in under 90 minutes.  We all know it’s a lie and that in real life things are a lot more complicated, but when it comes to the tech industry for some reason we buy the lie.
The myth is that you don’t need a formal education, that you need to be fresh out of high school or younger and in some magical way you are going to make it. Seriously? Is this responsible advice to be giving kids? Is this responsible advice to be following?
Sure, there have been success stories in this industry but even the most rudimentary calculation will show you how statistically insignificant those success stories are if compared to the hordes of failed attempts by millions of developers world wide. But yet the relentless child inside screams and says to you that somehow you are different, you are special, you are going to make it because you are smarter or  braver. I’m sorry to say this, but you are not special and in your case its not going to be different, grow up and get over yourself.
Another part of this rather dangerous lie is that young entrepreneurs should be building these free applications like Facebook or Google and then figure out how to make money later. Please do yourself a favour and don’t do that. From the very start make sure you know how you are going to make money, because if you are giving away stuff for free you are not an entrepreneur, you are a charity.
The truth is that most of the success stories you hear about or read about were polished over to make sound better, it happens to a statistically insignificant number of people and the people who do achieve success did so with a hell of a lot of hard work. So get a formal education, and then work your ass off on your business, don’t get discouraged if you don’t make it by 25 because you think you’re old, just keep on gunning, and most importantly… don’t buy into the lie.